The Korean LPGA Tour once again asserted their dominance in The Queens presented by Kowa at Miyoshi Country Club in Japan on Saturday.
The KLPGA team won eight of their nine singles matches in the international team event against three other teams from the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour (ALPG), LPGA of Japan (JLPGA) and Ladies European Tour (LET).
With a 24-12 lead over the JLPGA, they will play the home side over four foursome matches in the Championship Final on Sunday. The ALPG and LET will play a further four foursome matches for third place, with 9 and 7 points respectively. All scores will be re-set to zero ahead of the final day.
Korea gained the first two points of singles play on Saturday when Mel Reid withdrew before the start of the match due to back pain.
The team then won a further seven matches before Ai Suzuki, the 2017 JLPGA Order of Merit winner, prevented a total clean sweep by winning the anchor match 1 up against Seon-Woo Bae.
One of the most intriguing matches was played between the LET’s Florentyna Parker and the ALPG Team captain Karrie Webb, who rallied from four down with six to play to halve the match.
The ALPG’s Whitney Hillier produced another halve, along with wins from Stacey Peters, Katherine Kirk and Sarah Kemp.
Holly Clyburn posted the first points of the day on the board for the LET Team with a 3 and 2 victory over the JLPGA’s Momoko Ueda and Felicity Johnson then completed a 2 and 1 win over the Japanese captain, Misuzu Narita, for her second victory from two matches played.
Johnson, on her first trip to Japan, said afterwards: “I always felt confident that I was going to get the team a point today. The Japanese team is a very strong one, so to get a point against them, I’m thrilled.
“Over the last two days I’ve made some birdies at crucial times on the back nine, which I think has swung both matches in our favour, so hopefully I’ll do the same tomorrow.
“I feel very comfortable on the course and it’s in great shape. I think it’s tough to get close to a lot of the pins and you’re relying on pace putting and that’s been working well for me so far.”
Looking ahead to the foursomes matches against the Australians on Sunday, she added: “Hopefully we can put in a better performance than the England cricket team did in the first test (of the Ashes). It shouldn’t be too difficult, I don’t think. We’ll be playing against friends, so it will be a lot of fun out there, but we definitely want that third place tomorrow.”
Fellow Englishwoman Clyburn, who has been paired with Johnson in the last foursomes match of the Third Place Final against Sarah Kemp and Sarah Jane Smith, said: “It was nice to get a quick point on the board. I was one down and won six and seven to go one up and just kept the momentum going. I got two up through nine and turned and burned really. I got three up after 11 and concentrated on trying to finish the match as quickly as possible.”
LET Team captain Gwladys Nocera and counterpart Webb approached the foursomes with the same strategy.
Webb said: “I think we were thinking along the same lines with the pairings because Sarah and Sarah are our strongest pairing out last and Felicity and Holly have been playing really well so I think it will be close.”
Nocera added: “I think it will be tight and I’m happy with the way it looks.”
Championship Final (KLPGA V. JLPGA)
Seon-Woo Bae & Jeong-Eun Lee V. JLPGA’s Ai Suzuki and Momoko Ueda
Ji Hyun Kim 2 and Ha-Neul Kim V. Misuzu Narita and Mamiko Higa
Jin-Young Ko and Char-Young Kim V. Kotone Hori and Ritsuko Ryu
Ji-Hyun Oh and Ji-Hyun Kim V. Fumika Kawagishi and Yukari Nishiyama
Third Place Final (ALPG V. LET)
Stacey Peters and Katherine Kirk V. Gwladys Nocera and Carly Booth
Hannah Green and Whitney Hillier V. Annabel Dimmock and Olafia Kristinsdottir
Rachel Hetherington and Karrie Webb V. Florentyna Parker and Lee-Anne Pace
Sarah Jane Smith and Sarah Kemp V. Felicity Johnson and Holly Clyburn
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images