By Ron Sirak
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The inaugural International Crown is this week at Caves Valley Golf Club, a Tom Fazio design playing 6,628 yards and par 71 for this competition. Here are 6 things you need to know to follow the action. 1. THE TEAMS
Eight countries divided into two pools, four players per country. Pool A: No. 1 United States, No. 4 Thailand, No. 5 Spain, No. 8 Taiwan. Pool B: No. 2 South Korea, No. 3 Japan, No. 7 Sweden, No. 8 Australia. Seedings based on points of top four players on Rolex Rankings as of March 31. 2. THE PLAYERS
USA -- Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr; SOUTH KOREA -- Inbee Park, So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi, I.K. Kim; JAPAN -- Mika Miyazato, Ai Miyazato, Mamiko Higa, Sakura Yokomine; THAILAND -- Pornanong Phatlum, Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, Onnarin Sattayabanphot; SPAIN -- Azahara Munoz, Beatriz Recari, Carlota Ciganda, Belen Mozo; SWEDEN -- Anna Nordqvist, Caroline Hedwall, Pernilla Lindberg, Mikaela Parmlid; AUSTRALIA -- Karrie Webb, Minjee Lee, Katherine Kirk, Lindsey Wright; TAIWAN -- Yani Tseng, Teresa Lu, Candie Kung, Phoebe Yao
The first three days, each country plays two best-ball matches against every other country in its pool. Points accumulate over the three days: Win = 2; Halve = 1; Loss = 0. The top two countries in each pool advance. If there is a tie within a pool, this tie-breaker will be used:
Total points in head-to-head match-ups between the tied teams Total number of matches won in all six four-ball matches Highest-seeded team entering competition
The country with the third most points in each pool will playoff to determine the fifth country to advance to Sunday. In that situation, each country in the playoff chooses two players to represent them. The format for the playoff will be sudden death best ball, and the tie-breaker will be the second ball from each country.
So, for example, suppose Taiwan and Australia both finish third in their pools and go into a playoff. Let's say Taiwan chooses Yani Tseng and Candie Kung, and Australia chooses Karrie Webb and Katherine Kirk. After the first playoff hole the players make the following scores: Tseng = 4Kung = 4Webb = 4Kirk = 5 In that scenario, Taiwan would win the playoff because Kung made 4 and Kirk made 5 On Sunday, the five countries will be seeded based on their total points from the first three days. If countries are tied, the following tie-breaker will be used:
Total points earned in head-to-head match-up (if they were in the same pool) Total number of matches won in all six four-ball matches Highest-seeded team entering competition
Each country will play one singles match against every other country for a total of 10 matches. Points carry over to Sunday. The team with most points over the four days wins. In the event of a tie, each country in the playoff must choose one player to represent them. The format will be sudden-death singles. 4. WHO'S LEFT OUT
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Lydia Ko (New Zealand), No. 4 Suzann Pettersen (Norway), No. 8 Shanshan Feng (China) and No. 27 Charley Hull (England) are left out because their countries did not qualify. If the U.S. team were based on the current Rolex Rankings, No. 6 Michelle Wie would be in and No. 12 Paula Creamer would be out.
The United States and South Korea are the favorites, but Thailand, with the Jutanugarns sisters and Phatlum, is deep. Australia has Hall of Famer Karrie Webb and amateur teen sensation Minjee Lee, and in Nordqvist and Hedwall, Sweden has Solheim Cup-tested talents. The most Twitter-friendly team is Taiwan (Tseng, Lu, Kung and Yao - total of 14 characters). Least Twitter-friendly is Thailand (Phatlum, Jutanugarn, Jutanugarn and Sattayabanphot - total of 41 characters).
6. ON THE TUBE
All coverage will be on Golf Channel. July 24-25, 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. ET; July 26-27, 3-7 p.m.