INCHEON, South Korea – The UL International Crown is asking tough questions of the eight teams in the running.
“It’s playing almost like a major championship,” American Jessica Korda said.
It’s becoming an extreme test in extreme conditions with Typhoon Kong-Rey grazing the region.
Korda said it wasn’t just the rain and wind that pummeled players during a grueling, marathon-like march on Friday. It was the course itself.
While it’s set up at 6,508 yards on the scorecard, it’s playing a lot longer, with soaked fairways and heavy rough.
“It’s just a lot. A lot of time between shots, a lot of thinking. We spent 12 hours in the rain, non-stop rain,” Korda said. “I was hitting 3-woods into holes, with par 4s playing like par 5s.
“I just ran out of gas.”
With tee times moved up, the second round of fourballs was completed, with a quick turnaround for the start of the third round, which was suspended because of darkness at 5:42 p.m. local time (4:42 a.m. ET). The third round’s resumption will depend on the passing of Kong-Rey, which is being downgraded to a tropical storm. The heaviest rain will fall Saturday between 3 a.m. and noon local time, with winds gusting to 45 mph. Rainfall of 2 to 4 inches is expected.
The LPGA will give an update on its amended plans at 10:30 a.m. local time on Saturday.
For the 32 players in the field, the chance to sleep in will be welcome.
“It was a long day,” America Michelle Wie said. “It was a grueling day.”
They swept their morning matches against Thailand in routs.
Korda and Wie defeated Moriya Jutanugarn and Pornanong Phatlum, 6 and 4.
Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson defeated Ariya Jutanugarn and Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong, 4 and 3. Kerr and Thompson ran their record to 10-1-2 as partners in Solheim Cups and International Crowns.
The Americans moved to the top of Pool B with their sweep.
England also enjoyed a sweep to move ahead of the favored Koreans, to the top of Pool A.
Kerr and Thompson were 1 up through 11 holes in their third-round fourballs match in the afternoon against Japan’s Misuzu Narita and Mamiko Higan when play was suspended.
“We fought back and got it back,” Thompson said.
Kerr credited Thompson for helping them dig out of a hole after falling 3 down after four holes. Kerr played sick, having visited a doctor Thursday night to treat a sore throat. She was on antibiotics when she arrived to play in Friday’s rain.
“I feel better than I did yesterday,” Kerr said. “Thank God I had a partner today, and I’ve got one hell of a partner. Lexi carried me around the course like Thor’s Hammer. That’s how heavy I was. I started to come alive a little bit at the end there.”
The favored Koreans struggled in the morning, splitting their fourballs matches with Australia. They were up in one suspended match with England in the afternoon and down in another, with that matchup likely going to decide the Pool A winner.
So Yeon Ryu thanked the Korean fans who came out in the rain.
“I really appreciate the fans who came out here today, because the weather was pretty bad,” Ryu said.
She said the crowds who came out Thursday were instrumental in the Koreans getting off to a strong start by sweeping Chinese Taipei in the opening round.
“To be honest, as soon as the UL International Crown announced that the 2018 venue was going to be in Korea, we started to be really nervous about it,” Ryu said. “Obviously, if you’re playing in the homeland, you have a benefit, but at the same time you have an extra pressure. So that was really tough thing to deal with.
“But we just played yesterday with huge crowd, and we realized that is actually more a benefit, instead of pressure. So we really enjoyed it. Hopefully we can have a really good performance in front of them and make them happy on Sunday.”