Americans perform strongly at LPGA Match Play
GLADSTONE, New Jersey - Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and three other Americans advanced to the final 16 of the LPGA's Match Play Championship in a strong showing by the home players on Friday.
Angela Stanford, Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lang were the others Americans to advance at Hamilton Farm on Friday, and they will face a difficult task in a field where favorites are leading the way.
The prominent American performance came after a practice round early this week for the top 16 U.S. players in preparation for the Solheim Cup.
''It's awesome,'' said Wie, who came from two holes down with five to play to beat Anna Nordqvist of Sweden in 20 holes. ''We had our 'sweet 16' practice session and we all played matches against each other, so it's pretty interesting.''
Top-seeded Na Yeon Choi of South Korea, world No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan, No. 3 Suzann Pettersen of Norway and No. 6 seed Ai Miyazato of Japan also won as seven of the top 10 seeds earned spots in Saturday's round of 16.
Creamer will play Lang in the only all-American match. Kerr will face Kyeong Bae of South Korea, Wie will play Sophie Gustafson of Sweden, Lewis is paired with Pettersen, and Stanford will play Meena Lee, who knocked off No. 2 Jiyai Shin in the first round.
Kerr was the most impressive player Friday in a round that was played mostly in heavy rain and ended in brilliant sunshine.
The No. 3 seed won the third through eighth holes against Belen Mozo of Spain en route to a 7-and-6 rout, her second straight dominant performance.
''You never know what's going to happen so you just try and keep your foot on the gas,'' Kerr said. ''I never heard anybody apologize for winning by a big margin. They're happy about it.''
While there were other one-sided matches, the afternoon had some great drama, particularly Creamer's match with Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, and Wie's 20-hole win over Nordqvist, a past U.S. Women's Open champion.
Creamer posted a 1-up victory, making a downhill, 5-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th to put away the Australian she calls ''Webbie.''
''Those are the moments where I told myself on the green, this is why you play the game, for moments like this,'' Creamer said after beating the No. 8 player in the world but the No. 23 seed in this event. ''Having that five footer, you have to make it to win, and that was kind of fun having that feeling again.''
The winning putt by the U.S. Women's Open champion came seconds after Webb just missed a downhill 10-footer. The length could have been shorter, but Webb's short wedge never moved after hitting above the hole.
The former world No. 1 also hurt herself by missing short birdie putts at No. 13 and 17 with the match all square.
Wie, the No. 9 seed, tied the match against Nordqvist with consecutive birdies at Nos. 13 and 14. She had a chance to win the match at 18th but her downhill 5-foot birdie putt never touched the hole.
''I thought that putt went in for sure,'' said Wie, who will face Sophie Gustafson, another Swede on Saturday. ''I would have been nice to not have gone the extra two holes, but it was a good experience.''
Nordqvist lost the match with a bogey at the 20th hole, the par-5 second. She hit a water-logged third shot heavy in front of the green, knocked her fourth about 8 feet past the pin and missed the par-saver.
Wie was conceded a par after missing a birdie attempt.
Choi, the leading money winner on the tour last year, needed 20 holes to beat Karen Stupples of England. Tseng was a 3-and-2 winner over Jenny Suh, Pettersen routed Amy Hung of Taiwan 5 and 3, and Miyazato was a 3-and-2 winner over Hee-Won Han of South Korea.
Lewis beat Shanshan Feng of China 3 and 2, Lang upset No. 7 seed I.K. Kim of South Korea 3 and 1, and Stanford, last year's runner-up, was impressive for the second straight round with a 5-and-4 win over fellow American Wendy Ward.
''I just feel like I am not giving a hole to an opponent,'' Stanford said. ''I'm OK with somebody making a birdie on me or whatever but I get frustrated when I make a bogey or double.''
Defending champion Sun Young Yoo of South Korea saw her dream of repeating end when Canadian Alena Sharp ousted her, 2 and 1.
Other second-round winners were Julieta Granada of Paraguay and South Korean Inbee Park, the No. 11 seed.