• England, Taiwan off to perfect starts at LPGA Crown

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    Charley Hull of England hits her tee shot on the fourth hole during the four-ball session of the 2016 UL International Crown at the Merit Club on Friday in Chicago, Illinois.   AFP PHOTO

    Charley Hull of England hits her tee shot on the fourth hole during the four-ball session of the 2016 UL International Crown at the Merit Club on Friday in Chicago, Illinois. AFP PHOTO

    CHICAGO: Charley Hull finished eagle-birdie and Holly Clyburn closed with a match-winning birdie as England stunned the United States with two four-ball triumphs Thursday (Friday in Manila) to open the LPGA International Crown.

    The eight-nation team event saw seedings turned upside down at the Merit Club in suburban Chicago as the top four of South Korea, Japan, Australia and the US managed only one win among them.

    “Well, I just love playing in this kind of environment, especially when you are a bit of an underdog,” Hull said. “I just like proving people wrong and it just makes you go out there, gives you a little bit more of a buzz.

    “I enjoy playing against the Americans. Even on paper, we were obviously not as strong as the Americans.”

    Pool B leader Taiwan joined Pool A pace-setter England with a 2-0 start by sweeping the Aussies while China split with favored South Korea in Pool A and Thailand had a win and a draw over Japan in Pool B.

    The top two teams in each group after three days of four-ball matches plus a wildcard team advance to Sunday’s concluding singles matches with all points accumulated over four days deciding who captures the Crown.

    Hull, a 20-year-old in her fourth year as a professional, eagled the par-5 16th to put England ahead and birdied the par-4 17th to complete a victory for the world number 27 and 123rd-ranked Melissa Reid by 2 and 1 over US Olympians Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller, both in the world top 15.

    “There are seven other teams you’ve got to beat, so it’s not like you’re just playing one team, like it’s just us and Europe,” said Piller. “It’s kind of anyone’s game.”

    Clyburn, ranked 114th and number 92 Jodi Ewart Shadoff never trailed in a 2 and 1 win over fourth-ranked Lexi Thompson and US veteran Cristie Kerr. Shadoff birdied the par-3 14th and Clyburn birdied 17 to seal the victory.

    Aussie star Karrie Webb birdied three of four holes to lift her and Su Oh level after 12 holes, but Tseng Ya-ni birdied 13 and 15 and Teresa Lu birdied 14 in a 3 and 2 victory for the Taiwan pair.

    Candie Kung birdied the first and last holes on the back nine for a 2-up win for her and Taiwan compatriot Cheng Ssu-chia over Aussies Minjee Lee and Rebecca Artis.

    South Korea’s Amy Yang birdied four of the first seven holes and she and Chun In-Gee held on for a 1-up win over China’s Feng Shanshan and Lin Xiyu.

    But China’s Yan Jing eagled 16 to provide the difference for her and Feng Simin in a 1-up win over Ryu So-Yeon and Kim Sei-Young.

    Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn and Pornanong Phatlum edged Japan’s Mika Miyazato and Haru Nomura 2 and 1 while Ariya Jutanugarn and Porani Chutichai halved with Japan’s Ai Suzuki and Ayaka Watanabe.

    AFP

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