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S. Koreans golfers pick each other up on challenging day at International Crown

All Headlines 18:58 October 05, 2018

INCHEON, Oct. 5 (Yonhap) -- As they battled through rainy and windy conditions on Thursday at the UL International Crown, an LPGA team competition being held in South Korea, homegrown stars Ryu So-yeon and Chun In-gee relied on each other the best they could -- be it on putting greens or in spirits.

Ryu and Chun won their second straight four-ball match in the second round at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul. They defeated Minjee Lee and Sarah Jane Smith of Australia 2&1, after holding off Lee's late birdie run.

The South Koreans were 3-up through 13 holes, seemingly on the way to an easy win. But then Lee won the next two holes for Australia with consecutive birdies, cutting South Korea's lead to 1-up.

At the par-four 16th, Chun stood over an eight-foot par putt to keep South Korea ahead. She calmly drained that.

Then it was Ryu's turn to deliver a clutch putt at the 17th, where she made a 10-foot birdie putt to clinch the victory.

Ryu So-yeon (L) and Chun In-gee of South Korea walked toward the fourth green during the third round of the UL International Crown at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Oct. 5, 2018, in this photo provided by the tournament organizers. (Yonhap)

Ryu, world No. 3, playing in her third staight International Crown, gave all the credit to her teammate.

"To be honest, on the back nine, I lost a bit of my focus and I kept hitting poor shots," Ryu said. "But In-gee played really well and we were able to finish the match in 17 holes."

Ryu, 28, said while she was failing her teammate with her shots, she tried her best to cheer up Chun, four years her junior, whenever she could.

"It nearly felt like we were trailing when (Minjee Lee) made two birdies in a row, so I kept telling In-gee, 'We're still 1-up. This is our game, not their game,'" Ryu said. "We were really trying to encourage each other."

Chun said Ryu has done more than her share, too.

"Looking back at the two days, I think we had great team chemistry," said Chun, who has won two Korean LPGA Tour events at the same course in 2013 and 2014. "Whenever I made a mistake, she was there to back me up and vice versa. On the front nine today, there were birdie opportunities for myself that I wanted to make but couldn't. That's when So-yeon stepped in, and she made a lot of birdie putts."

Ryu and Chun had little time to celebrate their victory. The two, along with 30 other players from eight countries, were forced to go back out to begin the third round, which was originally scheduled for Saturday.

The LPGA moved up the tee times for the second round by about two hours and tried to squeeze in some third round action as well, in case Saturday's play would be wiped out by Typhoon Kong-rey. The players competed under steady rain throughout Friday.

Kim In-kyung (L) and Park Sung-hyun of South Korea celebrate Park's birdie at the second hole during the third round of the UL International Crown at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Oct. 5, 2018, in this photo provided by the tournament organizers. (Yonhap)

Ryu and Chun find themselves down a hole against Bronte Law and Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England through six holes when the play was suspended due to darkness.

The other South Korean pairing, Park Sung-hyun and Kim In-kyung, were on fire against Georgia Hall and Charley Hull of England, winning the first five holes en route to building a 4-up lead through eight holes.

Park and Kim lost their second round match to Su Oh and Katherine Kirk earlier Friday. Park, word No. 1 at 25, said she leaned on the 30-year-old Kim for moral support.

"This morning, I felt myself getting really down, and that was one of the reasons perhaps we didn't do better," Park said. "In-kyung was telling me just to be more comfortable, just to be myself. And In-kyung also had some really good shots in there."

Even though her team was on a roll, Park said she didn't mind halting play in the middle of the third round.

"I think it's a good thing. I think we're both quite exhausted, and it was getting a bit dark and it was getting difficult to read the putts," she said. "So I think breaking now is actually good for us."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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