Humbled US women seek answers after Crown ouster

Jim Slater

Baltimore (AFP) - American LPGA stars, hoping to restore their glory in team events, suffered a shocking setback, being eliminated before the final stage of the International Crown matches.

The top-seeded Americans, boasting four of the world's top 12 players, went 3-3 in four-ball matches and lost a playoff to second seed South Korea for the last spot in Sunday's singles matches on a tie-breaker when Lexi Thompson only parred the par-5 16th while Cristie Kerr and two Koreans made birdies.

"I never thought we wouldn't be playing tomorrow," world number one Stacy Lewis said on Saturday. "It's just crazy to think we're two points out of the lead of this thing and we're not able to play tomorrow. That's really what is the most disappointing part."

The humbling ouster in the inaugural global showdown of eight four-woman teams follows crushing losses to Europe in the past two Solheim Cups.

Europeans edged the US Solheim Cup team 15-13 in 2011 in Ireland, then kept the trophy with a largest-ever 18-10 rout last year, their first win on US soil.

"We'll take the positives out of it and look forward to other team events in the next few years," Thompson said.

Asian teams, who lacked a Solheim-like event, proved the Americans' undoing.

Taiwan swept two matches from the hosts Thursday and the US women could only split with Thailand, sending them into the playoff with the Koreans. And Japan led all nations with eight points but never faced the US women.

"We learned a little bit on Thursday," Lewis said. "We learned we had to be a little tougher and to support our partners out there. That's something all of us are going to take into Solheims and this event in the future."

The second International Crown is set for 2016 at Rich Harvest Farms near Chicago, where the US women last won the Solheim Cup over Europe, in 2009.

Germany's St. Leon-Rot course will host next year's 14th Solheim Cup, offering the next chance for US women to end their losing streak.

"It's tough losing, but I think we learned a lot as a team, taking that into Germany," said 12th-ranked Paula Creamer, a five-time Solheim Cupper.

Kerr and Creamer lost 4 and 3 on Thursday and switched partners for the last two days.

"I learned the comfortable pairings are not always the best ones. You need to find the chemistry and spark between your pairings to kind of egg each other on," Kerr said.

"What are you trying to say there?" Creamer responded.

"I'm saying, all right Paula you know I love you, if you are used to playing with somebody and you played with them a lot, sometimes routine is routine," Kerr replied. "Mixing things up is great. That's what I meant to say. You know that."

- US lacked Wie, Martin -

South Koreans have dominated the LPGA Tour in past years but US women have battled back this season, with Americans winning all three majors contested so far.

But because of March roster deadlines just after Thompson won the Kraft Nabisco major title, the Americans lacked June's US Women's Open winner, Michelle Wie, and this month's Women's British Open champion, Mo Martin.

"I don't think I do have the answer," Kerr said. "I think you have to look at the overall body of work and what the Americans have done the last couple of years on tour, especially this year.

"Match play is a different animal. It's very serious competition. Germany is just a year away so we'll see what happens there."

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