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September 20, 2017

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Mozo sinks winning putt as Spain lifts LPGA International Crown

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- Spain swept four singles matches Sunday to capture the inaugural LPGA International Crown team match-play title with Belen Mozo sinking an eight-foot birdie putt for the clinching point.

Mozo's clutch birdie at the par-5 16th hole defeated Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn 3 and 2 to seal victory in the global showdown of eight four-woman teams.

Mozo's victory meant the Spaniards could not be overtaken for the title in the two remaining matches, a fact Mozo didn't know when she made the putt and pumped her fist in celebration.

"Is it official?" Mozo asked. Assured it was, she joined her celebrating teammates.

"Damn, it feels good," Mozo said. "I just wanted to close my match out. I had no idea. I'm thrilled I could do it."

The Spaniards, who trailed Japan by a point after three days of four-ball matches, were perfect in Sunday singles to finish on 15 points with Sweden second on 11 and Japan and South Korea sharing third on 10 points and Thailand fifth, another point adrift.

Each member of the Spanish foursome collected US$100,000 and a metal crown as well as a trophy symbolic of supremacy in the inaugural global match-play team showdown at Caves Valley, which awarded two points for wins and one for halves.

Spain's Carlotta Ciganda routed South Korea's Choi Na-Yeon 8 and 6 and teammate Beatriz Recari downed Sweden's Mikaela Parmlid 3 and 2 to put Spain ahead, setting the stage for Mozo.

"I love match play and I love playing for my country and my friends," Ciganda said. "I played much more aggressive."

And Azahara Munoz completed the Spanish sweep by beating Japan's Ai Miyazato 2 and 1 in the final match.

"It has been such an amazing week for us," Munoz said. "When we knew we won on the 15th green I almost lost it. I don't know how I could keep playing because I was going to get a heart attack."

Spain won seven matches and halved another against only two losses, both coming Friday to top seed United States, which did not qualify for singles.

"We said coming into this weekend that we had an advantage being such good friends and so close to each other. We all stayed true to ourselves," Mozo said.

"There were a lot of great players here. We just had what other teams lacked."

Spain had been seeded fifth when the week began but expectations were turned on their head Saturday when the U.S. team, boasting four of the world's top 12 players, was eliminated in a playoff with South Korea.

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