LPGA pushes back International Crown qualifying dates

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Michelle Wie began riding a hot streak at the wrong time in 2014.

Well, for the purposes of playing in the inaugural International Crown, her run of stellar play came at the wrong time. It came too late. Wie didn’t make the American team that played in that first biennial international team event because the countries and players were named months before the competition was staged, before Wie got hot and won twice.

The LPGA is hoping its new deadlines for qualifying for the 2016 UL International Crown will better accommodate players who get hot leading into the competition. On Monday, the tour announced it is moving team and player qualifying deadlines much closer to the staging of the event.

“The dates for both the countries and players to qualify for the 2016 UL International Crown were moved closer to the event in an effort to deliver the top countries and to allow the players who are playing the best golf closest to tournament time to take part,” LPGA commissioner Michael Whan said in a statement.

The second International Crown will be played July 21-24 of next year at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago. The eight countries that qualify based on the world-rankings formula will be determined on April 4, after the completion of the LPGA’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. The four players who qualify from each country will be determined by the world rankings on June 13, after the completion of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

The teams for next year’s UL International Crown will be named five months later than they were for the inaugural event, and the players will be named two-and-a-half months later than last year.

The teams for the inaugural International Crown were named at the end of the 2013 season. The players were named three days before the Kraft Nabisco, the year’s first major.

The LPGA had reasons for seeking to name countries and players so much in advance. With so many international players involved, the tour sought to secure the advance scheduling of top players who were eligible. Also, early deadlines allowed more lead time to market an event with no history.

Spain won the inaugural International Crown at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. Carlota Ciganda, Belen Mozo, Azahara Munoz and Beatriz Recari teamed for the victory. Australia, Chinese Taipei, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United States and Thailand also competed.

The top eight countries that qualify are determined by the combined world rankings of a country’s top four players. Once the teams are set, individual qualifying continues within the ranks of qualifying countries.

In 2014, Wie was No. 37 in the Rolex rankings when the American International Crown team was determined. She was the 10th highest ranked American at that time. Six days after the team was named, she finished runner up at the Kraft Nabisco. Two weeks after that, she won the Lotte Championship. She won the U.S. Women’s Open a month after that. Based on the new qualifying dates, Wie would have made the American team, even if the cutoff was the week before she won the U.S. Women’s Open.

The LPGA made its new qualifying dates public during a news conference Monday at Rich Harvest Farms. The tour also announced that Constellation is joining Rolex and Calamos Investments as the third ambassador-level sponsor of the event.