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USA claims last semi-final berth at LPGA International Crown

Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit and Atthaya Thitikul celebrate on the final day of round-robin play at the LPGA International Crown team event

The United States claimed the last semi-final berth at the LPGA International Crown on Saturday to book a clash with Thailand, the only team to emerge from four-balls pool play with a maximum of six wins.

The United States, already closing in on a semi-final spot after Friday’s matches, lost one match and halved another against Sweden, but that was more than enough as China split their two with England — unable to get the two victories they needed to have a chance of advancing.

Meanwhile, Thailand completed a perfect pool play performance as Patty Tavatanakit and Atthaya Thitikul beat Australia’s Minjee Lee and Stephanie Kyriacou 1-up and Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn beat Hannah Green and Sarah Kemp 3&2.

Tavatanakit and Thitikul were 3-up through 13 holes when Lee and Kyriacou won two straight holes with birdies.

“I think it woke me up a little bit when they started making putts,” Tavatanakit said. “Steph was really clutch coming down the end. You’ve got to give that to her.

“But we did what we had to do, and we ended up finishing, winning.”

After the 16th hole was tied with pars, Thitikul matched Kyriacou’s birdie at 17 and Tavatanakit matched Kyriacou’s birdie at the par-5 18th to seal the win.

“We had to get the birdies to beat them,” Thitikul said.

With six match wins under their belts this week, Tavatanakit said the Thais are feeling “good vibes” heading into Sunday at TPC Harding Park, where each semi-final will consist of two singles and a foursomes match.

The winners will return Sunday afternoon for a final in the same format.

“It’s match play,” Tavatanakit said. “At the end of the day anything can happen. We’re just going to give it our best and hopefully we bring home the trophy.”

They’ll be up against a US team featuring world number one Nelly Korda, newly minted major winner Lilia Vu, Lexi Thompson and Danielle Kang.

– Sweden unbeaten –

Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall beat Vu and Korda 1 up on Saturday while Thompson and Kang tied with Madelene Sagstrom and Maja Stark in the final match of the day.

Vu holed out from the fairway for eagle on the sixth hole as she and Korda led much of their match, but Nordqvist’s birdies at 15 and 17 were enough for a win.

Sagstrom and Stark were 2-up through 13 holes, but the Americans won 14, 15 and 16 to go 1-up, only for Stark’s birdie to win the 18th and forge the tie.

By then, however, the United States were already assured of going through. China’s Yin Ruoning and Lin Xiyu had earned one of the points they needed with a 2&1 win over England’s Bronte Law and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff.

But Alice Hewson and Liz Young claimed England’s only round-robin win when Hewson’s birdie at 18 gave them a 1-up win over Liu Yu and Liu Ruixin.

The other semi-final will pit Sweden, winners of Pool A with 5 1/2 points, against Australia, who finished second in Pool B to Thailand with 3 1/2 points.

In other matches on Saturday, defending champions South Korea nabbed their first two wins of the week as Choi Hye-jin and Chun In-gee beat Japan’s Nasa Hataoka and Ayaka Furue 3&1 and Ko Jin-young and Kim Hyo-joo beat Yuka Saso and Hinako Shibuno 3&2.


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