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June 28, 2017

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Spain knocks Taiwan out of Int'l Crown golf tournament

TAIPEI -- After a magical start in which it swept the top-seeded United States on Thursday, Taiwan was unable to sustain its momentum and was knocked out of the inaugural International Crown women's golf tournament by Spain on Saturday.

Taiwan needed at least two points (a win or two ties) from its two four-ball matches against the Spaniards to have any chance of qualifying for the final day singles of the eight-country event, but neither of Taiwan's pairings — Yani Tseng and Phoebe Yao or Candie Kung and Teresa Lu — could overcome the tough Spaniards.

The result left Taiwan last in the four-team Pool A behind Spain, Thailand and the U.S., eliminated from the tournament, which concludes on Sunday with the top five countries playing singles matches against each other.

Tseng and Yao were quickly dispatched by Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda 6 & 5, after the Spaniards won five of the first six holes.

The Taiwanese duo was out of sorts all day, gifting the par-5 fourth and par-4 ninth to the Spaniards with bogeys and failing to score a birdie until the 12th.

Teresa Lu nearly delivered victory single-handedly in the second match against Belen Mozo and Beatriz Recari with five birdies and an eagle in the first 11 holes, putting Taiwan 2 up.

But Mozo, who had a total of five birdies in her previous two matches, got hot on the back nine with four birdies and an eagle to thwart Taiwan's hopes.

With the match even at the par-5 16th, Lu made birdie, seemingly giving Taiwan the upper hand, but Mozo chipped in for eagle to put Spain 1 up with two holes to play.

"I just didn't think about my technique. I just saw the ball flying, took a big breath and went with it," Mozo said. "It was a pretty nice shot." Lu again made birdie on the final hole, but Mozo responded with a 10-foot birdie putt of her own to halve the hole and win the match for Spain 1 up.

By finishing atop Pool A, Thailand and Spain qualified for Sunday's singles along with Japan and Sweden, which topped Pool B.

South Korea grabbed the final singles spot by beating the U.S. in a playoff. Australia, which finished last in Pool B, was the other team eliminated.

The result was disappointing for Taiwan and especially for the former world No. 1 Tseng who had declared herself back in form after sinking a 14-putt on the final hole against the U.S. on day one to give her country a sweep.

The four points from the two wins on Thursday were the most of any team, but Taiwan relinquished the advantage when it was blanked by Thailand on Friday, and it could not recover against the Spaniards.

Tseng managed three birdies against two bogeys against Thailand on Friday and only one birdie against four above-par holes against Spain on Saturday.

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