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Len Ziehm On Golf

Thumb injury will keep Korea’s best player out of International Crown

The UL International Crown, the biggest golf event to be played in the Chicago area this season, took a hit this week with the announcement that Korean star Inbee Park will be unable to compete.

Park, with a No. 3 standing in the Rolex World Ranking, was the highest-ranked player among the 32 women who will compete in the global team event at the Merit Club from July 21-24. She pulled out after meeting with doctors following the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – the last qualifying event for the Crown. She cited a left thumb injury for her withdrawal.

“I met with my doctors and they strongly recommended rest for my left thumb injury to heal,’’ said Park. “The International Crown is a month away, and I’m uncertain my injury would heal within that time frame.’’

The Republic of Korea, the top-seeded team in the competition, will still be the favorite even without Park. She’ll be replaced by So Yeon Ryu, who played for Korea in the inaugural Crown two years ago in Maryland.

So Yeon Ryu has the longest active cut streak on the LPGA Tour but hasn’t won since the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in 2014. When she dropped out of the top 10 in the world rankings she began working with Cameron McCormick, who is also the swing instructor for Jordan Spieth.

Ryu is still ranked No. 11 and would not have made the Korean team had first alternate Ha Na Jang – ranked No. 10 – also been unable to compete. She is battling anemia. Still, all four Korea players in the Crown are ranked in the top 11 in the world.

Two of the other eight team qualifiers for the Crown also announced roster adjustments. Japan replaced Shiho Oyama (back injury) with Ai Suzuki and China called in Simin Feng after Shi Yuting pulled out with a schedule conflict.

With Park out the top ranked player coming to the Crown is No. 4-ranked Lexi Thompson of the U.S. Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson, one-two in the rankings, can’t play in the Crown because their countries didn’t qualify.

Park’s injury also leaves her status for August’s Olympics in Brazil in doubt. Fifteen of the 32 players in the Crown would be playing in the Olympics if the Games started today. Qualifiers are based largely on the world rankings.

The Olympics are suffering much worse than the Crown from player withdrawals. None of the women currently qualified for the Games have pulled out yet. On the men’s side, though, eight have already decided not to play – Jason Day, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Branden Grace, Vijay Singh, Graham McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Marc Leishman. Most cited concerns about the Zika virus.

Here and there

The 97th Chicago District Amateur concludes its four-day run on Thursday with a scheduled 36-hole title match at Calumet Country Club in Homewood.

The Illinois PGA will soon lose another key staffer. Bill Ibrahim, a 16-year veteran as the IPGA’s director of operations and public relations, has announced his resignation to join former IPGA section colleagues Michael Miller and Mike Schoaf at the PGA’s Southwest Section, based in Arizona.

Madasyn Pettersen, surprise winner of the Illinois Women’s Open as a 15-year old last season, won’t defend her title at Mistwood, in Romeoville, next month. She’s focusing her tournament schedule on national junior events and previously skipped the Illinois Women’s Amateur, which was played in her hometown of Rockford.

Mistwood continued its strong showing in local tournament play when pros Andy Mickelson and Brian Brodell combined to claim a five-stroke victory in the IPGA Centennial Celebration team event at Ruth Lake in Hinsdale.

Clara Rattana, of Western Springs, won the third flight at the 116th playing of the Women’s Western Amateur in Dayton, Ohio. Jillian Hollis, a University of Georgia sophomore, ruled the championship flight. The event returns to the Chicago next June at River Forest, in Elmhurst.

Sean Maruyama, of Los Angeles, won the 99th Western Golf Association Junior title at Red Run, in Michigan. Brendan O’Reilly, of Hinsdale, finished ninth.