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Caves Valley to host new LPGA international event in 2014

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Pitches and Putts,Sports,Golf,Kevin Dunleavy

Caves Valley Country Club in Owings Mills, Md. will be the host of a first-of-its-kind event next year on the LPGA Tour. On Friday the tour announced it will establish the International Crown, a biennial, global match-play competition.

The four-day event will include eight countries represented by four players each, competing for $1.6 million in prize money, with players from the victorious team winning $100,000 each.

“At the LPGA, we celebrate great players from all over the world on a weekly basis, but this is the first time we’ll pit country versus country for global bragging rights,” LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said in a statement. “Only countries that have produced the best female teams can compete and only four players from any one country will be invited. The International Crown will take women’s golf to the next level and allow fans to rally behind their homelands.”

Competing countries will be decided by the cumulative Rolex ranking points of the top four players from each country. The rise of women’s golf in Asia will make the competition interesting. If the event were held today, competing countries would be the U.S., South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, England, Sweden, Spain, and Australia.

“Our tour is so global and we need this type of event,” Stacy Lewis, the top-ranked American, said in the statement. “People always want to know why golfers from Asia are so good. Well, now we can see how all the countries stack up.”

There will be three days of head-to-head, round-robin match play between teams, which will be split into to groups of four. The top five teams will advance to Sunday singles completion, with points from the first three rounds carrying over.

The inaugural event will be played July 24-27 at Caves Valley. In 2016, it will move to Sugar Grove, Ill., host of the 2009 Solheim Cup.

Caves Valley, often ranked among the top 100 courses in the nation, hosted the 2002 U.S. Senior Open, the 1995 U.S. Mid-Amateur, the 2007 Palmer Cup, and the 2005 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Championships.

The LPGA has had an on-and-off relationship with the region. The LPGA Championship had a four-year run at Bethesda Country Club (1990-93) and lasted five years at Bulle Rock (2005-2009). The River Course at Kingsmill hosted an LPGA event from 2003-09. The Kingsmill Championship was reestablished last September, drawing record crowds for the event, and will be played this year in May.

Kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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