Miyazato, Yokomine beat Swedes in opener

Kyodo, AP

Ai Miyazato and countrywoman Sakura Yokomine led Japan to the top of their pool with a win and tie over Sweden on the opening day of the inaugural International Crown on Thursday.

Japan leads Pool B with three points. South Korea and Australia have two points each, while Sweden has one in the four-day competition at Maryland’s Caves Valley Golf Club.

Miyazato and Yokomine went 2 up against Pernilla Lindberg and Mikaela Parmlid for two points and Mika Miyazato and Mamiko Higa were all square against Caroline Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist, adding another point, in the fourball matches.

“We have a really great momentum going,” said Ai Miyazato. “I wasn’t able to get some of my putts to fall the way I wanted, but I thought if I could get them close enough (to the pins), it would make it easy for Sakura to aim for. We have a long way to go, so we want to buckle down and give it our best,” she said.

The tournament features 32 players from eight teams. The top four teams will face off in 10 singles matches on Sunday, and the country with the most points after four days takes home the Crown.

“My putts were really falling today,” Yokomine said. “Ai-chan was reaching the fairways, and I was giving it my best swings; she would get it closer on the second shot, and I’d give it another hard swing. It was a great rhythm for us.”

Taiwan moved atop Pool A with two victories over the United States. Yani Tseng and Phoebe Yao never trailed in a 1-up win over Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson that completed a Taiwanese sweep over the Americans. Candie Kung and Teresa Lu had already beaten Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr 4 and 3.

“There’s probably more pressure with being No. 1, but we all knew coming into match play that anything can happen,” Lewis said. “It always comes down to one putt here and there.”