OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — A switch in pairings led to a change in fortune for the United States in the International Crown.
Coming off a dismal showing in the opening round, the U.S. shuffled its lineup and got the desired result, beating Spain twice Friday to earn its first points in the eight-country competition.
Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr took control on the back nine against Belen Mozo and Beatriz Recari in a 3-and-2 win, and Paula Creamer and Stacy Lewis held on to beat Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda 2 up.
One day earlier, the top-seeded U.S. lost twice to Taiwan and was the only country without a point. The Americans traded partners Friday — and the new pairings proved to be far more productive.
"Obviously, we made the right decision," Creamer said. "We felt comfortable."
Kerr said: "I thought Lexi and I had a lot of chemistry out there together. We played with a lot of heart for each other."
The Kerr-Thompson pairing won holes 10-12 to go 3 up, and Creamer-Lewis took the lead for good by winning No. 7 before adding to their advantage on Nos. 9 and 11.
Munoz and Ciganda got to 1 down heading to 18 before both landed shots in a bunker. They ended up conceding the hole.
"I would say it was a little bit of a relief when they hit the bunker, but until they hit the bunker shots I don't think we were relaxed at all," Lewis said.
Although it was an uplifting performance by the U.S. team, that won't be the only memory Creamer will take from the afternoon.
"The highlight of the day was shaking (Olympian) Michael Phelps' hand," Creamer said. "I almost fell over. I haven't washed my hand yet. We talked about that for two holes. I mean, when are we ever going to do that again?"
After two days, Thailand leads Pool A with five points, followed by Taiwan and the U.S. with four points apiece and Spain with three.
Japan stands atop Pool B with six points. South Korea has four points and Sweden and Australia each have three.
On Saturday, the final day of better-ball play, the United States will face Thailand, and Spain will play Taiwan. In Pool B, Sweden will face Australia, and South Korea will play Japan.