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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The UL International Crown Starts Tonight

Two weeks of team play in a row. How great is that?

The 2018 UL International Crown teams

The 2018 UL International Crown is being held in Korea, which (1) insures a absolutely wild crowd of fans and (2) gives us US viewers prime time coverage, unlike the Ryder Cup last week.

Tony Jesselli has done a very thorough preview at his website, so I'll just hit a couple of key points.

The eight teams in this year's matches are Korea, the United States, England, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Sweden. Defending champion Spain did not qualify this time, which is one of the more unique aspects of this competition. [CORRECTION: The US is defending, and I don't know why I got confused since it's in all the ads. Spain was the defending team two years ago but didn't qualify -- still making this a unique aspect though.] And while the two teams most expect to contend for the title are Korea and the US, each team comes in with a few questions.

For the Korean team, Inbee Park qualified but chose not to play so another Korean player could go. You have to wonder how that will affect their chances. After all, ULIC teams don't have a separate captain, so how will the Koreans play without their most experienced player to lead them?

On the US side, both Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson come in with questions -- Wie from injuries, Thompson concerning her form. In my mind, this surrounds the US team with even more questions than the Ryder Cup team faced last week.

I can't help but think that Thailand could easily be the sleeper in this week's event. The Jutanugarn sisters Ariya and Moriya, veteran Pornanong Phatlum, and young Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong have all played very sound golf this season, with both Jutanugarns having won, Sherman having two Top5s and Pornanong one. Don't underestimate them!

GC's coverage begins tonight at 8pm ET.

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