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Aussies will compete at LPGA team title

AUSTRALIA and their worldwide rivals will get the chance to win a team title at the inaugural LPGA International Crown, to begin on Thursday.

AFTER two decades of watching US and European women golfers play for the Solheim Cup, Australia and their top worldwide rivals have their chance at a team title in the LPGA International Crown.

The inaugural edition of the event will begin on Thursday at Baltimore's Caves Valley Golf Club, with eight teams of four women seeking global bragging rights and the richest share of $US1.6 million ($A1.73 million) in prize money.

Former world No.1 and seven-time major winner Karrie Webb leads the Australian squad, comprising top-ranked amateur Minjee Lee, Katherine Kirk and Lindsey Wright.

They've been grouped with South Korea, which features former world number ones Choi Na-Yeon and Park In-Bee, Japan and Sweden.

Taiwan leads the other group, headed by five-time major champion Tseng Ya-Ni, alongside Spain, Thailand and the overall top-seed United States.

"Every time I was watching Solheim Cup, I always wish I can be there playing," Taiwan's third-ranked Tseng said.

"This is the only time I can play for my country. It means a lot for me. I always feel like I play for my country, but I never really played for my country, so this is a time I can. I think it's great."

The Americans feature world No.1 Stacy Lewis, fifth-ranked teen Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr and veteran Paula Creamer - all ranked in the world top 12.

But the US women are coming off an 18-10 Solheim Cup loss to Europe last year on home soil, the most lopsided rout in the Ryder Cup-style event's history. The International Crown offers a chance at redemption.

"(I) really look forward to being part of a team event and hopefully win and redeem ourselves," said 19-year-old Thompson, who won her first major title at this year's Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Lewis says the US women welcome another team challenge from beyond Europe.

"I think we're all going to enjoy the pressure," Lewis said. "There is always pressure playing a team event at home. But I think that's where we want to be."

Teams will play four-ball matches against group rivals on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with the top two in each group and the best third-place team advancing to Sunday's final singles matches.

The trophy will go to the nation accumulating the most points over all four days.


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