Japan beats US for first time in 16 years

An LPGA team from Japan won the Cisco World Ladies Challenge in Narita, Japan, today for the first time in 16 years, beating its US counterpart behind strong play from Yuri Fudoh, Ku Ok-hee, Akiko Fukushima and Hiromi Kobayashi.

An LPGA team from Japan won the Cisco World Ladies Challenge in Narita, Japan, today for the first time in 16 years, beating its US counterpart behind strong play from Yuri Fudoh, Ku Ok-hee, Akiko Fukushima and Hiromi Kobayashi.

In the 12 stroke-play matches on the final third round of the $765,000 team event, Japan won 8.5-3.5 for a 13.5-10.5 victory. The U.S. squad led 7-5 entering the last of three days of competition at the 6,396-yard, par-72 Sosei Country Club.

Japan's victory, the third in the series that started in 1979, snapped the U.S. side's winning streak at 15. Japan previously won in 1981 and 1984.

"In addition to their jet lag, I think the chilly weather bothered the U.S. team as well," said Fudoh, captain of the Japanese squad. She beat Michele Redman 68-72.

"It's regrettable that we lost," said U.S. team captain Annika Sorestam. "But it has been an exciting competition."

Sorestam was held to a 74-74 draw by Kasumi Fujii.

In a highlight of the day, Fukushima, a regular on the U.S. tour playing for Japan, picked up a hole-in-one on the 167-yard seventh hole en route to a 70-76 win over U.S. Women's Open runner-up Cristie Kerr.

The teams accumulated points over three days of play, with a point awarded for each winning match and 1/2 point each for ties. The first two rounds featured six four-ball stroke-play matches a day, while Sunday's play consisted of 12 individual stroke-play singles matches.

Each member of the winning team earned dlrs 40,500, which is considered unofficial money on either tour. Twelve players on the U.S. team won dlrs 23,250 each.

Scores after the final third round of the $765,000 Cisco World Ladies Challenge, an annual US LPGA-Japan LPGA team event, played at the 6,396-yard, par-72 Sosei Country Club.

Rounds one and two were four-ball stroke play matches, with 1 point given per match and 1/2 point each for ties. Round three was for individual stroke play matches, with 1 point awarded per match and 1/2 point each for ties:

Final total points after three rounds

Japan 13 1/2 points, United States 10 1/2 points

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Sunday's individual stroke play matches

Becky Iverson, United States, def. Tseng Hsiu-feng, Japan, 75-78. Junko Yasui, Japan, def. Nancy Scranton, United States, 76-77. Aki Nakano, Japan, def. Sherri Steinhauer, United States, 73-74. Orie Fujino, Japan, def. Charlotta Sorenstam, United States, 75-78. Akiko Fukushima, Japan, def. Se Ri Pak, United States, 66-73. Hiromi Kobayashi, Japan, def. Cristie Kerr, United States, 70-76. Lorie Kane, United States def. Kaori Higo, Japan, 76-77. Annika Sorenstam, United States, tied Kasumi Fujii, Japan, 74-74. Aki Takamura, Japan, def. Rosie Jones, United States, 70-76. Ku Ok-hee, Japan, def. Sopie Gustafson, United States, 71-76. Carin Koch, United States, def. Midori Yoneyama, Japan, 72-73. Yuri Fudoh, Japan, def. Michele Redman, United States, 68-72.

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