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Notebook: Spain's Belen Mozo 'just wanted to make that putt'

Belen Mozo had no clue.

As the Spanish golfer lined up for her 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 16th hole Sunday, she knew sinking the ball would win her the hole and clinch the match against Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn.

But little did Mozo know, finding the ball's way into the cup would also clinch a win for Spain in the LPGA's inaugural International Crown.

"I just wanted to make that putt," she said.

Mozo had been clutch with her putter at Caves Valley Golf Club before. In fact, her birdie putt on the par-4 18th hole Saturday advanced fifth-seeded Spain into Sunday's final round.

Scanning the green moments before the putt on the 16th hole Sunday, Mozo looked off into the distance where her teammates Carlota Ciganda and Beatriz Recari sat waiting.

Ciganda had beaten South Korea's Na Yeon Choi, 8 and 6, and Recari and just finished her match against Sweden's Mikaela Parmlid with a 3-and-2 win. They both knew Mozo had a chance to win the whole thing for Spain.

In the distance, Ciganda gave Mozo an encouraging fist pump.

"I fist pumped and I'm like, 'That's all I need,' " Mozo recalled. "I'm going to make that putt for sure."

Mozo took her stroke, and the ball rolled right into the hole, bringing Ciganda onto the green in excitement. Mozo had just won the International Crown, but she didn't know it yet.

"That's it, that's it," Ciganda said to Mozo.

Mozo responded: "What do you mean that's it?"

Ciganda delivered the news with two words — "We won."

Recari rushed onto the green and jumped into Mozo's arms.

"I don't remember the rest," said Mozo, with a laugh.

Meanwhile, two holes behind, Azahara Munoz — Spain's last golfer — was still playing her match against Japan's Ai Miyazato. She'd eventually defeat Miyazato, 2 and 1, giving Spain all four wins on the day and 15 total points for the tournament.

Munoz said her eyes were on the scoreboard during her entire final round, aware that Mozo could end it. But Munoz's caddy didn't want her thinking about that.

"He said, 'Azahara, just focus, becuase anything could happen, you know. It doesn't mean that she's already won,' " Munoz said. "But she did. She played amazing this week, and she did it."

Sweden finishes in second

Team Sweden entered the final round Sunday with perhaps the most momentum behind Spain.

Sixth-seeded Sweden only scored three points combined in the first two days of the tournament, tied for last in its pool, but played its way into Sunday's singles matches by earning four points with two group play wins Saturday.

The key was to carry that momentum over into Sunday, Sweden's Pernilla Lindberg said.

"We all knew what we had to do today," Linberg said.

Sweden couldn't repeat Saturday's magic, losing two of its four matches Sunday. Lindberg defeated Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn handily, 6 and 5. Anna Nordqvist also won for Sweden, 3 and 2, over Japan's Mamiko Higa.

Parmlid, who played the tournament five months pregnant, lost to Spain's Recari, and Caroline Hedwall fell to South Korea's Inbee Park, the third-ranked player in the world.

Sweden placed third in the International Crown with 11 points. Four of its five wins came on the final two days of the tournament.

Ryu, Park lead South Korea

South Korea's So Yeon Ryu admitted to feeling a little lonely on the course Sunday.

For the first three days of the International Crown, Ryu competed with teammate Park in group match play.

Together, Ryu and Park won two of their pairing's three matches. Together, they defeated United States' Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson in a sudden-death playoff, as the sun set late Saturday, to advance their team as a wild card to Sunday's singles match round.

On Sunday, Ryu couldn't celebrate with her partner like she did after both players sank birdies on the playoff hole to end the U.S.'s weekend early. Ryu played by herself, four holes behind Park in the singles round.

"I was always looking for Inbee, but today she wasn't there," Ryu said. "So I had to handle everything myself."

Still, Ryu and Park continued to perform as if they were side by side.

The two players picked up their team's only victories in the final round. Ryu defeated Japan's Sakura Yokomine, 1 up, and Park never trailed Hedwall before finishing the match with a 4-and-2 win.

South Korea's I.K. Kim and Choi each lost their final matches. Kim fell just short of a victory with a 1-down loss to Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum, while Ciganda dominated Choi.

With 10 points, five match victories and five losses, South Korea finished the International Crown in a tie for third place with Japan. South Korea had to claw its way to the final round despite entering the tournament as the No. 2 seed.

"Everybody expected us going into the finals, but we actually did it the hard way," Park said. "Having a chance to go at it on the final day was huge."

Japan loses steam in final round

The first three days of the International Crown belonged to third-seeded Japan.

Heading into the fourth and final day of the tournament, Japan had eight points to lead the five remaining teams.

But on Sunday, Japan lost three of its four matches to only record two points and finish the weekend with 10 points — four wins, four losses and two ties. Japan's lone victory came from Mika Miyazato, who defeated Thailand's Onnarin Sattayabanphot, 3 and 1.

"Well, we tried our best, but it just didn't happen," said Japan's Ai Miyazato, who fell to Munoz in the final round. "Obviously, it's so disappointing and this is not what I expected for the results."

Like Japan, fourth-seeded Thailand won only one match Sunday. Thailand ended the International Crown with four wins, five losses and one tie to round out the tournament in fifth place.

adodson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/dodgerthat

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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