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Sweden, Australia and Thailand off to hot starts

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SAN FRANCISCO: Sweden, Australian and Thailand all grabbed the maximum two points from two matches on the opening day of the LPGA International Crown team event Thursday as China and the United States split their pool matches.

Sweden roared out of the gate with the biggest wins of the day as Madelene Sagstrom and Maya Stark beat England's Liz Young and Alice Hewson 5-4 in four-ball competition.

Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall beat England's Bronte Law and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff 4&3.

Nordqvist and Hedwall, who have a long history together in the Solheim Cup and the International Crown, seized control early as Nordqvist started the day with three straight birdies to give them a 3-up lead.

Law and Ewart-Shadoff birdied the fifth to get to 2-down but would get no closer.

Stark, playing her first match play event as a professional, had her nerves eased as Sagstrom made four birdies and an eagle in the first 10 holes.

Stark then birdied 12 and 13 to assure the Swedes of at least a tie, and after both teams parred the 14th Sweden had the win.

The event at TPC Harding Park is the fourth edition of the eight-team event featuring four-woman teams from eight nations.

Four-ball (best ball) matches continue through Saturday, when the top two teams in each group advance to Sunday morning semifinals consisting of two singles matches and a foursomes match.

Those winners meet for the title in the same format on Sunday afternoon.

The United States and China were behind Sweden in Group A with one win apiece.

World number one Nelly Korda and Lilia Vu -- who won her first major title at the Chevron Championship two weeks ago -- rallied on the back nine to beat China's Yin Ruoning and Lin Xiyu 2&1.

Korda and Vu trailed by one at the turn but won three straight holes with the help of birdies by Vu on the 13th and 15th.

"I think when Lils just stuffed it on that par-three (13) and made that putt, that was kind of the turning point of the match," Korda said.

China's Liu Ruixin and Liu Yu held on to beat Lexi Thompson and Danielle Kang 1 up to grab a point against the top-seeded United States.

In Pool B, Australia stunned defending champions South Korea and Thailand swept Japan.

Hannah Green, winner of the LA Championship on Sunday, teamed with Sarah Kemp to beat Kim Hyo-joo and Ko Jin-young 2&1.


Minjee Lee and Stephanie Kyriacou beat Choi Hye-jin and Chun In-gee Choi 2 up.

"I'm not surprised that this happened," Kemp said. "We're just all having a good time and it's just - it doesn't surprise me that we did what we did today. ... But for my first day of my first International Crown to start like this is pretty awesome."

Thailand, seeded sixth, also gained two points with wins over third-seeded Japan.

Sisters Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn beat Nasa Hataoka and Hinako Shibuno 2 up while Patty Tavatanakit and Atthaya Thitikul edged Yuka Saso and Ayaka Furue 1 up.

Patty and Atthaya never led until both birdied the par-five 18th for the win.

"We just kept on pedaling," Patty said. "Tried to give ourselves the best chance as possible, so got it done on the last hole, so it was pretty good." -- AFP

LPGA International Crown scores

Patty Tavatanakit/Atthaya Thitikul (THA) bt Yuka Saso/Ayaka Furue (JPN) 1 up

Moriya Jutanugarn/Ariya Jutanugarn (THA) bt Nasa Hataoka/Hinako Shibuno (JPN) 2 up

Anna Nordqvist/Caroline Hedwall (SWE) bt Bronte Law/Jodi Ewart-Shadoff (ENG) 4&3

Madelene Sagstrom/Maya Stark (SWE) bt Liz Young/Alice Hewson (ENG) 5&4

Minjee Lee/Stephanie Kyriacou (AUS) bt Choi Hye-jin/Chun In-gee (KOR) 2 up

Hannah Green/Sarah Kemp (AUS) bt Kim Hyo-joo/Ko Jin-young (KOR) 2&1

Lilia Vu/Nelly Korda (USA) bt Yin Ruoning/Lin Xiyu (CHN) 2&1

Liu Ruixin/Liu Yu (CHN) bt Danielle Kang/Lexi Thompson (USA) 1 up

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