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Scouting Report

Every team competing at the International Crown, ranked

May 02, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO — Eight countries are vying for bragging rights at the LPGA Tour’s Hanwha LifePlus International Crown as the competition is held for the first time since 2018. While the teams come in seeded based on player rankings from last month, that doesn't mean we think that reflects the strength of the teams as play begins this week. After all, selection of the countries to compete was determined in November, and the rosters were decided almost a month ago on April 3. Plus Monday’s news of two late scratches for Team England change the dynamics there as well.

Ahead of the team match play event at TPC Harding in San Francisco, we ranked the eight teams we see as most likely to win the International Crown.

8. England

Jodi Ewart Shadoff (Rolex Women’s Ranking: 49)
Bronte Law (116)
Alice Hewson (178)
Liz Young (222)

Late withdrawals from Georgia Hall (World No. 10) and Charley Hull (18) cratered England down the power rankings. Instead of having two of the LPGA’s most consistent performers with Solheim Cup experience, Hall and Hull are replaced by Hewson and Young, who had to hop on flights across the pond to arrive in San Francisco late Monday. England’s only hope of advancing is if Law summons the 2019 Solheim version of herself. The 2019 Mediheal Championship winner has one made cut in four starts in 2023. Ewart Shadoff has held form since her first LPGA victory at the LPGA Mediheal Championship last October, missing her only cut of the season at last week’s JM Eagle LA Championship following four top-25 finishes in six starts. Even those clicking, however, may not be enough with the sudden change in roster.

7. Sweden


Katelyn Mulcahy

Maja Stark (30)
Madelene Sagstrom (31)
Anna Nordqvist (36)
Caroline Hedwall (130)

Sweden, unfortunately, is missing its top-ranked player this week. Linn Grant is 27th on the Rolex Women’s Rankings, but still can’t travel into the United States due to the COVID-19 vaccine international travel policy. It further compounds the problem that no one on the team is currently in form heading to San Francisco. Nordqvist didin’t play in the Chevron Championship, with her last start in late March. Sagstrom (above) just had her best finish since the tour returned stateside in February with a T-17 last week at Wilshire Country Club. Hedwall, Grant’s replacement, hasn't played on the LPGA this season, with her best match-play moment coming a decade ago when she went 5-0 for the Europeans at the 2013 Solheim Cup. Stark opened the season with a pair of top-five finishes, but that talent alone can only carry Sweden if her teammates find their game quickly.

6. China

Xiyu Lin (13)
Ruoning Yin (21)
Yu Liu (125)
Ruixin Liu (271)

China brings talented players who are trending upward heading to San Francisco. Yin became the second Chinese player to win on the LPGA Tour when she claimed the title at the LA Open title last month and nearly swept the SoCal swing when she finished a stroke out of a playoff at Wilshire C.C. on Sunday. Lin, meanwhile, got in the playoff only to come up just short of victory. The one potential question mark is Ruixin Liu, the least accomplished LPGA player in the entire field. Despite six career victories on the Epson Tour, she hasn’t sustained that talent on the upper circuit. She’s made one cut in four starts this season.

5. Australia


Naomi Baker/R&A

Minjee Lee (6)
Hannah Green (14)
Stephanie Kyriacou (118)
Sarah Kemp (161)

The timing of the team selection did not serve Australia well. Grace Kim won her first event a week after the cut-off while sitting two spots behind Kemp on the day teams were finalized. It keeps a top 100 player off the Aussie squad. Instead, look to Australia’s two active major champions in Lee (above), who is slowly improving after a rough start to 2023, and Green, coming off an emotional playoff victory, her first on the LPGA Tour since 2019, at the JM Eagle LA Championship on Sunday, to lead the team at Harding.

4. Thailand


Yoshimasa Nakano

Atthaya Thitikul (5)
Patty Tavatanakit (63)
Moriya Jutanugarn (80)
Ariya Jutanugarn (83)

Thailand is a team of lurking giants. The Jutanugarn sisters are always a team match-play threat; they won the 2021 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational with a closing best-ball 59. Ariya, a former World No. 1 nearly missed this event, but she has posted three top-20s over her last five starts, including a T-14 at the Chevron Championship. Tavatanakit is starting to resemble her world-beating self, with a T-3 showing at the DIO Implant LA Open. Thitikul (above) was a splash away from entering the playoff at the Chevron Championship two weeks ago as she tried to claim her maiden major title. The problem? The bracket did not break right for Thailand. Otherwise, they'd be higher on this list. As the No. 6 seed, they must beat one of Japan or South Korea to advance to the semifinals.

3. Japan

Nasa Hataoka (13)
Ayaka Furue (19)
Yuka Saso (35)
Hinako Shibuno (39)

Team Japan has had notable success the last time the LPGA was in San Francisco. Saso and Hataoka went to a playoff at The Olympic Club during the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, where Saso broke through for her maiden LPGA victory. In addition, Japan’s lineup is filled by LPGA winners in Shibuno and Furue. If success across the street from Harding translates to this week, Japan's got the best opportunity to become a first-time winner of this event.

2. South Korea


Carmen Mandato

Jin Young Ko (3)
Hyo Joo Kim (9)
In Gee Chun (12)
Hye-Jin Choi (25)

The most consistent roster at the Crown belongs to South Korea, as exemplified with all four players impressive performances at the Chevron Championship. The entire team finished in the top 20 at the opening major of the year, with Ko (T-9), Kim (11), Choi (17), and Chun (T-18) all finishing under par at Carlton Woods. However, defending their Crown title five years later will require sorting through the more difficult pool of the two pools.

1. United States


Carmen Mandato

Nelly Korda (1)
Lilia Vu (4)
Lexi Thompson (7)
Danielle Kang (16)

Most recent major champion? Check. No. 1 player in the Rolex Women's Rankings? Check. Vu (above) and Korda have been two of the most consistent performers on the LPGA in 2023, providing the favorites this week with significant star power. Kang remains a stalwart performer despite injury concerns. Interestingly, despite the experience of playing in all three previous Crowns, Thompson remains an unknown. Her two missed cuts in two starts this season are the glaring weakness on an otherwise threatening and talented on-paper roster.