Five months pregnant, Sweden's Mikaela Parmlid is game for International Crown

The Baltimore Sun

Sweden's Mikaela Parmlid has spent the past three days golfing more with her legs than her core. It helps her generate power, she said, because she can't really rely on her core right now: Parmlid is five months pregnant.

She said she sometimes feels the baby moving as she walks from hole to hole, but added: "If I don't focus on it, then I don't feel it."

Parmlid clearly was focused on her golf game Saturday, when she and teammate Pernilla Lindberg turned in their most impressive performance of the LPGA's inaugural International Crown. They defeated seventh-seeded Australia's Katherine Kirk and Lindsey Wright, 7 and 5, which helped Sweden qualify for Sunday's final round of competition at Caves Valley Golf Club.

"Once I changed a little bit, I was like, 'OK, this is how I can generate power now,' " Parmlid said. "From the start of yesterday to the end of today, we have been playing some great golf."

Parmlid birdied the second and third holes to help push their lead to 3-up. Her third birdie, on the par-4 11th, gave the Swedes a 5-up lead. The match ended after they finished No. 13 with a 7-up advantage, following the last of Lindberg's five birdies.

"It was just so nice to put some points on the board," Lindberg said. She added: "We were just so determined to go out there today and just get those two points."

Sweden's other pairing, Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall, also turned in a dominating performance Saturday. In their 5 and 3 victory over Australia's Minjee Lee and Karrie Webb, Nordqvist finished with six birdies in Owings Mills.

"We got off to a really good start," Nordqvist said. "Minjee made a long putt on 2 and then I countered with a 15-, 20-footer to stay in it. … It's been a long time since I enjoyed myself this much on a golf course."

Team Sweden's two victories earned them four points Saturday, for a total of seven over the three days of pool play. The sixth-seeded Swedes finished in second place in Pool B, just behind third-seeded Japan's eight points and ahead of second-seeded South Korea's six.

"I just think that we tried to ride off the momentum we had from yesterday," Hedwall said. "We knew we needed the two matches" Saturday.

Spain makes late push to advance

Team Spain's pairing of Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda had just taken its largest lead of the day Saturday against Taiwan's Yani Tseng and Phoebe Yao after birdies on the 11th hole.

But when they looked up at the scoreboard, Munoz and Ciganda focused on the progress of Spain's other pairing, not their own 7-hole lead. (Munoz and Ciganda eventually won, 6 and 5.)

Heading into Saturday's matches, fifth-seeded Spain was in last place in Pool A with three points, and had not won since Thursday. It lost twice Friday to the United States.

"We want to play tomorrow, so we were looking at our teammates, what they were doing," Munoz said after her pairing's match Saturday. "We just wanted them to win."

Spain's second group, Belen Mozo and Beatriz Recari, edged eighth-seeded Taiwan's Candie Kung and Teresa Lu, 1-up. The win was due in large part to Mozo, who recorded an eagle on the par-5 16th hole with a chip-in to give her team its first lead of the day.

"That was an incredible boost," Recari said.

Lu birdied the 18th hole, but Mozo answered with a birdie of her own to secure the match win.

"I love being under pressure. I love walking into the last four holes being all square and having our chance to win the match," Mozo said. "I was waiting for that moment to come and I embraced it and we ended up winning the match, which is great."

With its two victories Saturday, Spain collected four points, for a total of seven, to finish in first in Pool A and advance to singles match play Sunday.

Rivals South Korea, Japan square off

Saturday featured maybe the weekend's most anticipated pool matchup, between familiar foes South Korea and Japan.

South Korea's Na Yeon Choi said Friday that women's golfers from each country have long gone head-to-head in the biennial Korea-Japan Team Competition.

"I think I played team match with Korea and Japan like four or five times in the past, like, 10 years," Choi said Friday: "It's very weird because we are so close [to the] Japanese players."

Added Choi's partner, I.K. Kim: "We have a lot of similarities, I think, between Korea and Japan. So it's going to be a close match. You don't really know what to expect."

Japan came into Saturday atop Pool B, and the entire eight-team field, with six points. South Korea had four points, good for third place.

The two teams split their Saturday matches. South Korea's Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu defeated Mamiko Higa and Mika Miyazato, 4 and 3, in the early match.

Then Japan's second pairing of Ai Miyazato and Sakura Yokomine beat Choi and Kim, 3 and 2, with two eagles by Yokomine highlighting the match. She sank an iron shot on the par-4 10th before chipping in on the par-5 12th. Miyazato also had a chip-in for birdie on the 14th hole.

Japan earned two points Saturday, for a total of eight, to maintain control of first place and move on to Sunday's singles matches.

"It was a huge two points, I think, that we took today," Miyazato said.

South Korea played the United States in a sudden-death playoff Saturday, which ended too late for this edition, to decide which team advances to Sunday as a wild card.

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