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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Who Won Big at the UL International Crown?

That may sound like a silly question -- the USA team won, of course -- but I'm not talking about the overall winner of the event. Rather, I'm talking about individual players.

There are 12 events left on the LPGA schedule this season, counting the RICOH Women's British Open this week. Which players walk away with the most confidence?

The victorious USA team with the trophy

I've put together a short list of players who I think may up their games over the rest of the 2016 season as a result of their play at the Crown.
  • Cristie Kerr: Cristie didn't make the Olympic team but her leadership on the USA team here was massive. It seems that all she needed to get her game in shape was a little match play with a patriotic flair! With two majors left in the season, this win may put her back in the discussion.
  • Stacy Lewis: Stacy's wedding is only a few weeks away, and she's got a major this week followed by the Olympics, so things aren't going to calm down for her anytime soon. She needs to calm her mind and stop trying so hard in the meantime; she's been getting in her own way. But her win in Sunday singles could be a turning point for her, simply because she finally closed out a win.
  • Gerina Piller: It's no secret that Gerina has struggled with belief in her own game. But alongside Kerr, she was the rock that helped keep this team in the matches when they fell so far behind the first day. I still believe she'll win a tournament before the end of the season, and her performance in this tournament could end up being the reason why.
  • Candie Kung: Do you realize that Candie Kung didn't lose a single match this past week? She's had a very uneven year so far -- she did have a T2 at Walmart -- but a performance like this could get her back on an even keel. It certainly has to give her confidence going into the RICOH this week.
  • Ayaka Watanabe: Ayaka isn't an LPGA member; she plays the JLPGA and has three wins there, although it's been eight months or so since her last one. She's not listed in the RICOH field this week but, at #43 in the world, I bet she gets another win soon enough.
  • Mel Reid: What can you say about Mel? If that one-on-two performance on Friday didn't send her confidence soaring, what will? I know she didn't win in singles, but I'm not sure anybody was going to beat Kerr on Sunday. With the RICOH being played at Woburn in England, I think a home game should help her build on last week's success.
  • Sei Young Kim: The last on my list may not seem to need any encouragement. She has two wins this season, and one of them was just over a month ago. But her best finish in a major this season is an 11th, and you know that has to eat at her. However, other than a narrow 1-down loss on Thursday, her other matches were solid wins -- including a big 5&4 win against Charley Hull in singles. She must feel great going into the RICOH this week.
By comparison, I don't think Lexi Thompson, Charley Hull, Ariya Jutanugarn or any of the Australian players carry much from this event. While one tournament doesn't ruin an otherwise good year, I don't think it gives any of them a boost going into this week's major.

I'll do my "5 to Watch" post for the RICOH tomorrow. But these are players I think could be dominant for the rest of the season. It's amazing how big a "bump" players can get from a good match play performance.


  1. Interesting read. I think In Gee Chun and Amy Yang let their team down also.

  2. Yeah, it's not that they're playing badly. It's just that they didn't do as well as they expected... and given the ridiculous expectations Korean players put on themselves, it won't help them any.