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updated: 1/26/2013 8:07 PM

International Crown a great response to Solheim

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I have to be honest. My first reactions when it was announced years prior that the 2009 Solheim Cup would be coming to Rich Harvest Farms were:

A. I better figure out exactly what the Solheim Cup is all about; and

B. Where and what the heck is Rich Harvest Farms?

I knew very little about either, but after more than two years of immersion into both the event and the course, I'm happy to report I have a much better knowledge and appreciation of what all the hoopla was about.

And honestly, by the time the players and the massive crowds had departed Sugar Grove, I was left blown away by the event, the players and the majestic course.

The LPGA and course owner/designer Jerry Rich had put on quite a show, one that would be hard to top.

Well, Rich didn't reach this wealthy station in life by resting on his laurels, and the LPGA knows a good thing when it sees it, thus the announcement this week that Rich Harvest Farms will host the 2016 International Crown tournament, a new biennial team event featuring the best women's golfers from around the world.

And believe it or not, this one has a chance to outdo even the Solheim Cup, which pits 12 U.S. players against a dozen of their counterparts from Europe, resulting oftentimes in fairly competitive matches.

But if you've paid attention at all to professional women's golf, you know it's not just about the U.S. and Europe anymore, it's about the world, especially players from Asia, and that's what makes this event so intriguing.

Just like the forward thinking of Jack Nicklaus, who lobbied to include all of Europe rather than just Great Britain in Ryder Cup matches in order to improve the competition level (and it did), Rich realized early on that the LPGA would have to expand its horizons with the International Crown if the event wanted to take it up a notch.

"Three days after Mike Whan became commissioner (in 2010), I brought him to Chicago and said we've got to do something special," Rich said. "The greatest players aren't just from America. They're from Asia and around the world."

So it won't be the U.S. against another country per se, rather it'll be the world vs. the world when 32 players from eight countries, as determined by the Rolex World Rankings, battle it out over four days to determine supremacy.

Adding intrigue to the event is the fact that about a month after the IC hits this area, many of the participants will be jetting off to Rio to celebrate golf's return to the Olympic Games.

Think these women will be in top form when they arrive in Sugar Grove? Me too.

The inaugural IC will be held in Baltimore in 2014 before heading our way two years later.

Just a guess here, but don't be surprised if Rich Harvest Farms eventually becomes the permanent -- or at least semi-permanent -- host of the event from then on.

My initial reaction to that?


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