GURNEE, Ill. (AP) — Cristie Kerr brought the wine for the final team dinner of deep dish pizza. She sent text messages to her teammates to try to keep them loose.
When the United States had a chance to win the UL International Crown, she finished the job.
Kerr held on for a 3-and-2 victory over Melissa Reid on Sunday to give the Americans the title in the rare team event on the LPGA Tour.
“I think I play better when there is more pressure,” said Kerr, who was the last player to tee off for the U.S.
Kerr and company were shut out in the first session on Thursday, but they got progressively better over the weekend. Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller each closed out wins before Reid missed a birdie putt on 16, handing the decisive victory to Kerr.
Lewis and Piller ran to the green for a group hug when it was over. Kerr’s caddie, Brady Stockton, grabbed the flag at 16 to save it for his player.
Lexi Thompson lost 2 and 1 to South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu, and then joined the celebration at a muggy Merit Club about 40 miles northwest of Chicago. The Americans won a silver trophy, and each of the players took home a crown and $100,000 apiece.
“To be called the best golfing nation I think is pretty satisfying,” Lewis said.
Lewis, Kerr and Thompson played on the U.S. team that finished a disappointing sixth in the inaugural event in 2014, failing to make it to the final day at Caves Valley Golf Club in Maryland. But Piller joined the group for an American victory in the Solheim Cup last year in Germany, and their chemistry and confidence in each other was on full display when they decided to keep the same four-ball pairings after they came up empty Thursday.
“Coming into this week, everyone was playing really well, and for us to be paired with the people we played at Solheim, I think that’s been a huge help in the success that we’ve had in that just gives us extra confidence,” Piller said.
Kerr and Thompson teamed for wins on Friday and Saturday, and the momentum carried over into singles. Piller cruised to a 4-and-3 victory over Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, and Lewis posted a 3-and-2 win over Japan’s Mika Miyazato.
South Korea, which was the top seed coming into the event, finished second with 12 points, one back of the United States. Taiwan and England tied for third with 11, and Japan finished fifth with eight points.
The International Crown moves to the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, in 2018.
“We couldn’t win the tournament, but anyway, we still finished better than last time,” Ryu said. “Last time we’re third and this year second, so hopefully we can get a crown at 2018.”
South Korea and Japan each had a long day after thunderstorms postponed the final part of the third session to Sunday. South Korea advanced to the singles matches with a pair of four-ball victories against Australia, and Japan won a three-team playoff for the final spot in the singles session.
Sunday’s singles matches also were delayed for 62 minutes by rain.
Sei Young Kim showed no signs of fatigue in a dominant 5-and-4 victory over England’s Charley Hull, but countrywomen Amy Yang and In Gee Chun lost their matches. Japan also split its four singles matches, with Haru Nomara and Ayaka Watanabe on the winning side.
England had the lead with nine points coming into the day, but it wasn’t able to keep up its surprising play. Jodi Ewart Shadoff beat Taiwan’s Ssu-Chia Cheng 1 up for the country’s only victory of the final session.