The youngest member of the Australian team, Minjee Lee, is the unofficial captain heading into this week’s inaugural International Crown being played at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland.
Lee, is representing Australia alongside her mentor and World Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, Katherine Kirk and Lindsey Wright.
The International Crown is a first-of-its-kind, biennial, global match play competition featuring teams from eight countries battling for the right to be "Crowned" the world's best golf nation.
With no captain selected prior for the teams in this event, the Australian team sat down for an Italian dinner at a local restaurant Monday night to figure out the teams, their strategy and ended up unofficially appointing a captain – their youngest teammate, 18-year-old amateur Lee.
“Minjee has probably played more match play than Karrie, Lindsey and I recently. So we jokingly designated her as the captain last night,” Katherine Kirk said.
For years, Kirk had watched as her fellow touring pros from the United States and Europe got to face off every two years in the Solheim Cup, taking a break from the cutthroat nature of individual competition to cheer each other on and play for a cause bigger than themselves. She had wanted that for herself and got that now with the International Crown.
“So far it’s far exceeded my expectations. Walking into the locker room yesterday, I felt like a little kid at Christmas, because we have got golf bags and head covers and towels,” Kirk said.
“Everything is all about your country and it makes you really proud and certainly the fact that it’s going on probably to a hundred different countries around the world are going to get to see this, and people are going to cheer on their own country, I think is pretty special.”
For Webb it is a rare opportunity to play for her country and she is thrilled. “I haven't had the opportunity to represent Australia a lot as a pro so am really looking forward to being part of an Aussie team and flying the Australian flag!” said the seven time major champion.
Webb also pointed out that the mixture of youth and experience could be a key to their success, “I think it's great that there's really 3 generations of Aussies in our team. I turned pro in the 90's, Katherine and Lindsey turned pro in the 2000's and Minjee is this generation. I think with that combo of youth and experience could be a good recipe for a good week!”
The Aussie team are seeded 7th in the event and are in Pool B. They will line up against South Korea, Japan and Sweden. Thailand, Spain, Chinese Taipei and top seed America make up Pool A.
Australia gets their tournament underway against the Republic of Korea early Friday morning Australian time. Webb and Lee will team to take on IK Kim and Na Yeon Choi, while Wright and Kirk will play Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu.
Each country will play two, four-ball matches between each of the other three countries in their pool (Thursday – Saturday). The top two point-earning countries from each pool and one wild card country will advance to play in Sunday’s single matches. Two points will be awarded per match (two for a win and one for a halve). The total cumulative points from Thursday – Sunday will determine the champion.