United States wins UL International Crown

Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

GURNEE, Ill. – Cristie Kerr held on for a 3-and-2 victory over Melissa Reid on Sunday to give the United States the UL International Crown.

Kerr and company were shut out in the first session of the LPGA Tour event, but they got progressively better each day. Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller each closed out wins before Reid missed a birdie putt on 16, handing the decisive victory to Kerr.

“I think I play better when there is more pressure,” said Kerr, who was the last player to tee off for the U.S.

Lewis and Piller ran to the green for a group hug with Kerr when it was over. Kerr’s caddie, Brady Stockton, grabbed the flag at 16 to save it for his player.

Lexi Thompson lost 2 and 1 to South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu, and then joined the celebration at a muggy Merit Club about 40 miles northwest of Chicago. The Americans won a silver trophy, and each of the players took home a crown and $100,000 apiece.

Lewis, Kerr and Thompson played on the U.S. team that finished a disappointing sixth in the inaugural event in 2014 in Maryland. But Piller joined the group for an American victory in the Solheim Cup last year in Germany, and their chemistry and confidence in each other was on full display when they decided to keep the same four-ball pairings after they came up empty Thursday.

“What would it be without a little drama,” Kerr said.

Kerr and Thompson teamed for wins on Friday and Saturday, and the momentum carried over into singles. Piller cruised to a 4-and-3 victory over Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, and Lewis posted a 3-and-2 win over Japan’s Mika Miyazato.

South Korea, which was the top seed coming into the event, finished second with 12 points, one back of the United States. Taiwan and England tied for third with 11, and Japan finished fifth with eight points.

South Korea and Japan each had a long day after thunderstorms postponed the final part of the third session to Sunday. South Korea advanced to the singles matches with a pair of four-ball victories against Australia, and Japan won a three-team playoff for the final spot in the singles session.

Sei Young Kim showed no signs of fatigue in a dominant 5-and-4 victory over England’s Charley Hull, but countrywomen Amy Yang and In Gee Chun lost their matches. Japan also split its four singles matches, with Haru Nomara and Ayaka Watanabe on the winning side.

England had the lead with nine points coming into the day, but it wasn’t able to keep up its surprising play. Jodi Ewart Shadoff beat Taiwan’s Ssu-Chia Cheng 1 up for the country’s only victory of the final session.