International competition is 'an experience unlike any other' for athletes

[Editor's note: Cristie Kerr, a member of Team USA in the inaugural LPGA International Crown to be played at Caves Valley Golf Club July 24-27, will be blogging about her experience for The Baltimore Sun.]

There is something about international athletic competition that can't compare to anything else. The best of the best playing on the biggest stage for not only themselves but for their country. Right now, the World Cup has captured the attention of the entire world and with good reason. As a professional athlete, being able to wear your country’s colors and compete against the best athletes in the world is an experience unlike any other.

Besides my two major championship victories, without question the highlights of my career as a professional golfer has been competing on seven U.S. Solheim Cup teams. Week in and week out, professional golfers compete against other professional golfers, as individuals. Every year, once a year, the PGA Tour bucks this trend in the fall with the Ryder and Presidents Cups. Since 1990 the only time women’s professional golf has broken week-to-week individual tournament play is every two years at the Solheim Cup. Until now that is. Now we have a new, fresh and truly international team event to showcase women’s professional golf in Solheim Cup off years — The International Crown.

One of the things that I think is most appealing about this new event, even before the first match is played, is that there are multidimensional layers of competition built into the biennial event. The first competition is to see which countries qualify for the eight spots in the event. Then, unlike the Solheim Cup, where the U.S. team comprises of 12 players, each country only has four representatives. With the depth of U.S. women’s golf at the present moment (six of the top 13 in the Official Rolex World Golf Rankings) just making the team is competition in and of itself. Finally, you have the format of the event, which combines the round-robin style play of a World Cup and the team and singles match play of a Ryder/Presidents/Solheim Cup.

I am so excited to be on Team USA for the inaugural International Crown and I could not ask for better teammates in Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson and Paula Creamer. I look forward to testing our games against the best in the world. All of us have experience playing in at least one Solheim Cup, which I think is very important. Not to say that it is an advantage against teams that have not competed in this type of event before, but I do think, especially mentally, it helps you prepare for the different nature of the competition. For example, anyone who has competed in or been to a Solheim, Ryder or Presidents Cup knows that the first tee of one of these events is unlike anything you can experience at a weekly Tour event. Fans that enter the bleachers around those first tees might think they accidently entered a Brazil vs. Argentina World Cup final match instead of a golf tournament. As a professional golfer, that atmosphere is something you live for and cannot be replicated. I have no doubt that the golf fans in Maryland will bring that same excitement to Cave’s Valley at the end of July for the very first International Crown.

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