The LPGA of Japan team, led by Misuzu Narita, took down the top ranked Korean LPGA Tour team in the Championship Final to win The Queens presented by Kowa for the second time in three years at Miyoshi Country Club in Japan.
The home side dominated on the greens in the foursomes segment of the international team match play competition between the LPGA of Japan, Korean LPGA Tour, Australian Ladies Professional Golf and Ladies European Tours.
The LPGA of Japan won three of four foursomes matches and halved another to cause the biggest upset since the 2015 match. The Korean LPGA Tour team had held a 24-12 lead after the second day’s play, having won eight of their nine singles matches on Saturday, before the scores were reset to zero heading into the last day.
Five of the nine Korean LPGA Tour team members had beaten the South Korean team from the American-based LPGA in the ING Champions Trophy the previous weekend and were highly favoured to win The Queens presented by Kowa for a second time after their dominant performance in 2016.
However, the Japanese fans were thrilled as the anchor match sealed a 1 up victory for the home side over the visitors. The JLPGA Team Captain Narita was promptly tossed into the air by her team mates amid jubilant scenes of singing and chanting as sunshine beamed down on the 18th green.
The Championship Final foursome results:
JLPGA’s Ai Suzuki and Momoko Ueda def. Seon-Woo Bae and Jeong-Eun Lee, 3 and 2.
JLPGA’s Misuzu Narita and Mamiko Higa def. Ji-Hyun Kim 2 and Hae-Rym Kim, 2 and 1.
JLPGA’s Kotone Hori and Ritsuko Ryu halved with Jin-Young Ko and Char-Young Kim.
JLPGA’s Fumika Kawagishi and Y Nishiyama def. Ji-Hyun Oh and Ji-Hyun Kim, 1 up.
ALPG Team Tops LET Team in Third Place Final
The ALPG Team, led by Karrie Webb, secured third place after the day three foursomes matches against the LET Team, led by Gwladys Nocera.
The Australians won two and a half of the four matches on a score of 5-3, with each match worth two points.
European Solheim Cup star Florentyna Parker and former Order of Merit winner Lee-Anne Pace from South Africa took down Webb and past captain Rachel Hetherington by 5 and 4, but then the tide turned in the Australians’ favour.
Sarah Jane Smith and Sarah Kemp defeated English duo Felicity Johnson and Holly Clyburn and then Stacey Peters and Katherine Kirk won their match against Nocera and Carly Booth.
In a close final match, Hannah Green and Whitney Hillier halved with Annabel Dimmock and Olafia Kristinsdottir in par fours on the difficult 18th and the ALPG secured their best result in three years.
Captain Webb said: “I think we’re all pretty chuffed. We would have loved to have been in the final match but it’s an improvement from the first two years so everyone is pretty excited that we got the job done. It was nice that we won outright with the half on the last. It’s been a really fun week and the pairings worked out really well today. The two wins were our two strongest teams and they went out and got the job done and made it easier for the rest of us. I love the team format and hanging out with the girls. We all support each other throughout the year but our schedules are so different that we don’t get to catch up as a group very often and it’s been a great week.”
Captain Nocera said: “We knew before we came here that the Australian team was probably the best they have had in three years and they were all in form. We knew they were strong and we did our best and I think we had some great pairings. The atmosphere was awesome and I feel bad because I couldn’t give my best today.”
Nocera revealed that she had been discussing her strategy with the 2019 European Solheim Cup Team captain Catriona Matthew and that she would love to continue her involvement in team golf.
“I would really love to do Solheim. I have talked to Beany this week about the pairings because I really trust her. She knows the course and she knows the players. I’m going to talk to her and see. She is the captain and the boss. I would love to do that.”
The Third-Place Final foursome results:
ALPG’s Stacey Peters and Katherine Kirk def. Gwladys Nocera and Carly Booth, 3 and 1.
ALPG’s Hannah Green and Whitney Hillier halved with Annabel Dimmock and Olafia Kristinsdottir.
LET’s Florentyna Parker and Lee-Anne Pace def. Rachel Hetherington and Karrie Webb, 5 and 4.
ALPG’s Sarah Jane Smith and Sarah Kemp def. Felicity Johnson and Holly Clyburn, 5 and 4.