INCHEON, Oct. 16 (Korea Bizwire) – The UL International Crown, a fledgling women’s match play competition put together by the LPGA Tour, is here to stay as it provides a “unique” opportunity for fans and players alike, the tour’s top official said Monday.
LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan said the International Crown, which was first contested in 2014 and will come to South Korea in 2018, is “the most unique, the most exciting and the most international competition” in women’s golf.
At the biennial event, eight countries are represented by four players each. The field of 32 players is determined by the world rankings, and the four highest-ranked golfers for each nation are eligible.
It takes a different format than the Solheim Cup, another international competition in women’s golf that has been pitting Americans against the Europeans since 1990.
The Solheim Cup has left out some of the best golfers from other parts of the world, namely South Korea, the most dominant country in women’s golf for years. The International Crown addresses that and does so much more, Whan said.
“More than anything else, most nations want their best athletes to play for their flag,” Whan said at a press conference at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, the venue of the 2018 International Crown. “In golf, you don’t get to do that very often. You might see your flag on the leaderboard, but it’s not the team competition. I think what you’re going to see here… people will come from Europe, China, Taiwan and America. This is really about the country. The team aspect of that sets it apart.”
Whan said the Solheim Cup had a humble beginning in 1990 and took a while to grow into the major global event that it is today. In comparison, the International Crown, given fans’ interest and excitement among the players involved, is already developing so much faster.
“The Solheim Cup didn’t take off on Day 1; today, it’s unbelievable,” Whan added. “The International Crown took off so much faster, and reaching ‘unbelievable’ is only a matter of time. The concept is too right and too important to not believe this isn’t going to be one of the best events in women’s golf in a short period of time.”
South Korea was announced as the host of the 2018 International Crown in 2014, and Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea was picked as the venue last year. Given South Korea’s prowess in women’s golf — South Koreans have won 14 of 28 LPGA tournaments this year — Whan said it was an easy choice to bring the competition here.
“Let’s face it: Korea is the most dominant female golfing country in the world right now, and our fan base here is spectacular,” he said. “We’re talking about the country that’s providing more top-ranked players than anywhere else in the world. My expectations are huge. I have not yet met a fan from Korea who doesn’t want to see Korea beat the rest of the world and do it on the world stage. And the International Crown is that stage and that opportunity.”