In a decision that shines a light on the its growing internationalism, the LPGA announced a new event at the PGA show this week. Its the International Crown, an eight-country team match scheduled to debut in 2014 and be held in subsequent even-numbered years. The inaugural event will be held July 21-27 at Caves Valley Golf Club near Baltimore. The 2016 tournament will be at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago.
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said the concept grew from the Solheim Cup, which pits a US team against a European Team during odd numbered years. With the huge number of LPGA stars from the rest of the world--especially Asia--he recognized the need for a more universal event. "One thing is true if you have traveled the globe like we all have," he said, "when you go play in Korea, they are rooting for Korea; and when you play in Japan, they are rooting for Japan. Japan and Korea don't want to play on Team Asia; they want to play each other. And Australia might not view themselves as part of that region, and they wear their own flag and have their own anthem.
"We said let's not bring out a format that the world has seen or a U.S.‑centric us versus everybody else. Let's not try to put people in continents or regions and waves. Let's let countries be countries, and introduce something to the world of golf that can really take advantage of what's happening in the women's game."
The event will feature 32 players representing eight countries in foursome and individual matches. The field of eight countries will be determined by the combined Rolex World Ranking of the top
four players from each country as of the conclusion of the 2013 CME Group Titleholders. Countries must have a minimum of four ranked players to be eligible. The final field of 32 players will chosen after the Rolex World Rankings are published on the Monday of the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship week. At this point, the top four players from each pre-qualified country will make up their respective country’s team.
The competition will take place over four days. It will feature three days of four-ball competition in two brackets and one day of singles matches on Sunday. Five of the eight countries will advance to the Sunday singles matches based on the outcome of the four-ball matches contested Thursday – Saturday. Points will be awarded per match based on two for a win, one for a halve, and zero for a loss. All points from the four-ball matches will carry over to Sunday and the total cumulative points for the four days of competition will be used to determine the overall champion.
In an interesting twist, there will be no team captains. The players will meet and decide who plays and when as well as who will compete in sudden death wild card matches and anticipated tie-breakers, which can easily occur given the scoring system. It sounds complicated, but at least it's simpler than the FedEx Cup system.
Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf