S. Korea reaches final stage through playoff at LPGA int'l event

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea squeaked into the final stage of an inaugural international competition on the LPGA Tour on Saturday, beating the United States in a playoff on the third day of the competition in Maryland.

In the sudden death wild card showdown at the International Crown on Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, a suburb of Baltimore, the team of Park In-bee and Ryu So-yeon defeated Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson of the U.S., knocking down the top-seeded country once favored to win the event's first edition on home soil.

South Korea advanced to Sunday's singles contests, along with Thailand, Spain, Japan and Sweden.

In the four-ball competition on the par-5 16th, both Park and Ryu scored a birdie. Kerr also had a birdie, but Thompson could only manage a par.

Park put her third shot to within seven feet from the cup. Thompson gave herself 12 feet for birdie. Kerr, who reached the green in two, rolled her first putt to four feet, while Ryu chipped from just off the green to two feet from the hole.

Thompson missed her birdie putt. Park curled in hers to put South Korea in the driver's seat. Kerr matched Park's birdie, but Ryu tapped in for the clinching birdie.

The first edition of the International Crown features the four highest-ranked players from eight countries, based on their world rankings as of March 31.

The eight teams were divided into Pool A and Pool B. After three days of four-ball competition, the top two nations from each pool, Thailand and Spain from Pool A and Japan and Sweden from Pool B, qualified for Sunday's singles. South Korea will now join them as the wild card entry. The total points accumulated from Thursday to Sunday will determine the champion. A win is worth two points, and a halve is good for one point.

The U.S. and South Korea were the top two seeds entering the event, but they both finished third in their respective pool after four-ball matches. Earlier on Saturday, South Korea split two matches with Japan, while the U.S. did the same with Thailand.

Park In-bee and Ryu So-yeon handily defeated Mamiko Higa and Mika Miyazato 4