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International Crown teams starting to take shape

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Though the clock is still ticking on nations trying to qualify for the LPGA’s new International Crown match-play competition, the eight spots available look settled for the Olympic-style team event scheduled to debut next summer.

The International Crown will feature teams from eight nations, each with four-woman rosters. The first biennial event is scheduled to be played July 24-27 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. The countries who qualify will be determined after the final LPGA event this year, the CME Group Titleholders, Nov. 21-24.

While the countries will be set at season’s end, the rosters of the qualifying teams won’t be determined until the finish of the Kraft Nabisco Championship next spring. In other words, the United States may qualify for the competition at the end of this season, but the four Americans who qualify won’t be finalized until after next spring.

The eight countries will be selected based on the world rankings. The combined total ranking of the top four players from each nation is being used to gauge qualification. For example, South Korea leads qualifying today with No. 1 Inbee Park, No. 4 So Yeon Ryu, No. 6 Na Yeon Choi and No. 10 I.K. Kim. Their combined rankings total 21, the lowest of any nation in the world.

The world rankings will also be used next spring to set the rosters of qualifying nations.

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan was asked this week if the tour would consider a women’s version of the Presidents Cup.

“I’ve never been a fan of a team called `Rest of the World,’” said Whan. “Not really sure what colors to wear, what anthem to sing, what flag to wave. I’ve said when you travel around the world as much as we have, you realize Korea doesn’t want to play with Japan, they want to play against Japan. And Australia doesn’t want to be on team Asia, they want to be team Australia.

“I think people will be surprised how much depth there is and how hard it is to get into the event. And the good news is that I don’t decide the four. There’s no sanctioning body who decides the countries. Players and countries get in by their own merit. And it can change every two years. If a country gets much stronger and kicks another country out because of the Rolex Rankings, so be it.”

Here are the top 10 in the current rankings totals:

1. South Korea, 21

2. United States, 41

3. Japan, 104

4. Spain, 252

5. Sweden, 299

6. Australia, 305

7. Thailand, 330

8. Taiwan, 337

9. England, 447

10. France, 495