England and the United Stated swept their morning fourball matches on Friday to take the lead in their respective pools at the UL International Crown in Incheon, South Korea.
The third fourball session was moved up due to predicted inclement weather related to Tropical Storm Kong-Rey, but was unable to be completed due to darkness.
After 2 1/2 inches of rain and a forecast for more rain and wind, organizers postponed play for Saturday. They expect to resume Sunday morning at 7:05 a.m. local time.
No. 4 seed England took over the lead in Pool A thanks to a sweep of No. 8 seed Chinese Taipei. The Charley Hull/Georgia Hall pairing defeated Teresa Lu/Wei-Ling Hsu 2 & 1, while the Bronte Law/Jodi Ewart Shadoff pairing easily beat Candie Kung/Phoebe Yao 6 & 4.
“We’ve had a really good start to the tournament for Team England, so we’re very happy,” said Hall. “Today we kind of took it in turns a bit more, and we played really well. I holed some really good putts on the back nine, and Charley was the better player on the front nine, so we kind of matched each other quite well.”
Top-seeded South Korea, the heavy favorites entering the biennial team tournament on their home soil at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, split a pair of matches after opening with two wins on Thursday. The team of In Gee Chun and So Yeon Ryu beat the Australian team of Minjee Lee and Sarah Jane Smith 2 & 1, but Sung Hyun Park and In-Kyung Kim couldn’t keep the momentum going in a 3 & 2 loss to Katherine Kirk and Su Oh.
South Korea (6 points) sits just one point behind England, and the two teams are facing each other in the third fourball session. The two matches were split when play was halted on Friday and if those results hold up, they would be the two automatic qualifiers out of Pool A. Australia, with three points, must sweep its two matches and hope for England or Korea to sweep, or they will need to hope for a spot in the wild-card playoff.
The U.S., seeded second, took control of Pool B after dominating both of their matches against No. 6 seed Thailand, which was a surprise leader after earning three points in the first session.
Jessica Korda and Michelle Wie gave the U.S. plenty of confidence with a 6 & 4 win over Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn/Pornanong Phatlum pairing, while the Cristie Kerr/Lexi Thompson pairing beat Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn/Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong 4 & 3.
“On the holes where I was out, (Korda) was good,” said Wie. “On the holes where she was out, I was good, and it was pretty good chemistry out there this morning. Even after yesterday, we were testing each other and we were just extremely proud for not giving up, and for getting to 18. I think that helped a lot.”
With three points, No. 7 Sweden sits three points behind the U.S. after splitting with third-seeded Japan on Friday. Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall cruised to a 6 & 4 victory over Misuzu Narita and Mamiko Higa, while the Pernilla Lindberg/Madelene Sagstrom pairing fell 4 & 3 to Ayako Uehara/Nasa Hataoka.
Japan sits second in Pool B with four points, one better than Thailand and Sweden.
The U.S. was splitting its matches against Japan when play was halted Friday and the defending champions need to win only one of the two to guarantee a spot in the singles finals.
The UL International Crown consists of eight teams determined by the combined top four players from each country as of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings on June 4.
The competition consists of four-ball matches Thursday-Saturday, with teams playing each of the other countries in their pool and points awarded per match - two for a win, one for a tie and zero for a loss. The top two teams in each pool will advance to the singles competition, with the third-place teams playing a sudden-death four-ball match to determine the wild-card team.
Countries will be re-seeded Nos. 1-5 for the singles, with the pairings determined by a semi-blind draw. If countries are tied after the singles matches, one player from each country will be determined for a sudden-death playoff.