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LPGA Tour to launch international team event in 2014

(Reuters) - The LPGA Tour has created an eight-nation tournament that will identify the best team in the world when it makes its debut in 2014, two years before golf returns to the Olympic Games.

The inaugural International Crown, a biennial matchplay event featuring four-player teams, will be held at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland, outside Baltimore from July 24-27.

"We celebrate great players from all over the world on a weekly basis, but this is the first time we'll pit country versus country for global bragging rights," Ladies Professional Golf Association Commissioner Michael Whan said in a statement.

"Only countries that have produced the best female teams can compete and only four players from any one country will be invited. The International Crown will take women's golf to the next level and allow fans to rally behind their homelands."

Players will be selected based on world rankings and teams will be split into two brackets for the $1.6 million event.

After three days of fourball matches, the top five teams will advance to the final round of singles matches on the Sunday. Points accumulated over all four days will determine the champion team.

"It's like preparing for the Olympics," world number one Yani Tseng of Taiwan said. "In Taiwan and in Asia, we don't have a team event like this. This is a good opportunity for us to play for our countries. It's really going to be awesome."

Based on current world rankings, South Korea, the United States, Japan, Sweden, Australia, Spain, Taiwan and England would compete for the inaugural title.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in San Diego; Editing by Gene Cherry)

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