Yani Tseng shows no sign of slowing down May 18, 2012
Yani Tseng of Taiwan vs. Candi Kung of Taiwan
No. 1 seed Yani Tseng showed no signs of slowing in Friday's match defeating Katie Futcher 3&1. Kung and Haeji Kang were even through the 17th hole, but a birdie on the 18th gave her the win. With Kung is looking for her first LPGA victory since 2008 and Tseng is seeking her 4th season win, this battle between Taiwan natives could be interesting to watch.
Julieta Granada of Paraguay vs. Karine Icher of France
Granada didn't need 18 holes to take out Ryann O'Toole. Granada sealed the match with back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13, finishing with a record for the week at 6&5. Icher and Jennifer Johnson were fairly even throughout their round, but a birdie on 17 secured the win 2&1. Both Granada and Icher have been on the rise this year and are both searching for their first victory since 2006 and 2005, respectively.
Jodi Ewart earned another impressive victory on Friday as she beat eight time European Solheim Cup team member Sophie Gustafson 3&1. Despite missing the cuts in her previous two LPGA events, Ewart's confidence seems to be riding high this week.
"I knew today was going to be another tough match, just went into today with the same attitude as yesterday," said Ewart. "I mean, I'm striking the ball really well, and today a lot more putts dropped today than they did yesterday, so I just have a lot of confidence in my game right now."
This week makes it ever the more clear that Ewart made the right decision to give up soccer and turn her attention completely to golf. As a teenager in England, Ewart played soccer at a high level.
"I used to play really high level soccer when I was growing up in high school, I possibly could have played for England as a teenager, but I chose golf over soccer," said Ewart. "There's a longer career and better money (in golf), and I was just better at golf and I enjoy golf more than soccer."
With both players looking to become Rolex First Time Winners, Ewart will face Spaniard Azahara Munoz it tomorrow's third round.
Stacy Lewis made it clear during Friday's post-round interview she has one goal in mind and that is to be the number one golfer in the world.
"I want the pressure on me, I want people to think of me as a good golfer because that's what I think of myself, and so I want the pressure," said Lewis. "I don't know, in the end I want to be the best American player and then get -- then get No. 1 in the world, too. So that's what I work hard for and it's what I sit out there and beat balls every day, that's what I'm thinking about."
Coming off her second LPGA Tour victory at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, Lewis currently sits at No. 7 in the Rolex Rankings just behind top American Cristie Kerr who is at No. 5. With a victory this week, Lewis could inch her way further up the Rolex Rankings and move one step closer to achieving her goal.
Azahara Munoz advanced to the third round of the Sybase Match Play Championship after her 2&1 victory over Karrie Webb on Friday but this Spaniard is playing with a heavy heart this week following the death of her grandmother on Sunday.
Despite fighting back tears, Munoz has managed to punch her ticket into the third round after victories over Australians Lindsey Wright and Karrie Webb. Rolex Rankings No. 27 has relied on her experience at last year's Solheim Cup to adjust to the match play style format used this week.
"Obviously it gave me a lot of confidence, said Munoz of last year's Solheim Cup. "Growing up back home, we play a lot of match play events."
Despite playing against Jodi Ewart in many tournaments, tomorrow will serve as the first time the duo will face off in match play competition.
"She used to play for England, I used to play for Spain, so we played together all the time, but I actually never played against you her," said Munoz. "She's a really good player and she's been playing really well all year. I knew she was a good player when she came out this year because I played with her a lot when we were amateurs, in college. You know, she's such a good ball striker. So in match play, it's only one round, so anybody could beat anybody."
The No. 41 seed Julieta Granada set the record for the week after taking out Ryann O'Toole on the 13th hole to finish 6&5 on Friday. Granada didn't give O'Toole a chance to catch up after posting five birdies and winning 7 holes to close out the match.
Granada had an impressive start to the season after participating in a six-way playoff in the season opener in Australia ending in a tie for second. She hasn't broken into the top-10 since that event but has placed in the top-25 in four events this season. With a positive attitude and consistency in her swing, Granada could be on her way to a breakthrough.
"I've been progressively getting better each year, especially last year I think I grew a lot," Granada said. "But it was definitely nice to be in a playoff and have a good chance to win the tournament. I handled myself really well that Sunday, so I was excited about that, and the rest of the year I've just been trying to be more consistent, trying to really not worry about everything else but my game and just kind of having a good attitude."
Although the day could potentially be long for the Paraguay native, Granada changes her mind set to only think about her first tee shot tomorrow morning.
"The morning match, that's it and that's all you have to think about," Granada said. "You can't really think about the match in front of you, behind you, who you're going to play next. That's when you get caught up in the whole bracket situation. You just have to play that one hole, really, and that one shot. Tomorrow could be a long day and this golf course is definitely a long walk, but that's why we work out."
It was a long day for Vicky Hurst and Cristie Kerr as their match served as the only match to go into extra holes during the first two days of the Sybase Match Play Championship.
Hurst got off to an early one up lead over Kerr after a birdie at the second. Kerr then fought back and won the fourth and eight holes to take a one up lead until Hurst's birdie at the 15th returned the match to all square. Hurst then pared the first playoff hole to defeat Cristie Kerr in 19 holes.
"It was a long day just because neither one of us ran away with it so we were both so intence," said Hurst. "I think we both left a lot of shots out here so we were both grinding it out pretty much until the end."
No. 33 seed Katie Futcher put up a good fight against No. 1 seed Yani Tseng with a one point lead heading into the turn in Friday's match. But after Tseng posted four birdies on 11, 13, 14 and 17, Futcher couldn't get ahead despite recording straight pars on the back nine.
Tseng's competitors have definitely kept her on her toes this week, considering both matches so far have been taken to at least the 17th hole. Tseng thinks this could be because of the time she took off from the Tour.
"I didn't play as good as yesterday but I putted much better," Tseng said. "I started to make more birdies on the back 9 and started to play better. I haven't played in three weeks so I needed some time to get it back. I am ready for tomorrow and it feels good."
So Yeon Ryu of Korea vs. Katherine Hull of Australia
Rookie standout Ryu proves she is a tough competitor today as she took out Mina Harigae on the 16th hole to finish 3&2. Hull on the other hand went back-and-forth with Mariajo Uribe and needed all 18 to seal the match. With Ryu's consistency this season she could end up making her stamp on the LPGA Tour if she wins this week. Hull will keep Ryu on her toes though, with 2 LPGA victories under her belt.
Angela Stanford of the United States vs. Vicky Hurst of the United States
Hurst came out as champion against No. 5 seed Kristie Kerr after taking it to 19 holes, the first match to do so this week. Stanford closed her match early, finishing 4&3. She may be considered the favorite in tomorrow morning's match up, but Hurst has proven she can take out a top competitor.
Na Yeon Choi of Korea vs. Morgan Pressel of the United States
Na Yeon Choi held off fellow Korean Jenni Shin on Friday to advance to the third round. Looking to secure her sixth LPGA Tour victory, Choi has finished tied for second twice this year at the HSBC Women's Champions 2012 and RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Pressel comes into this match with more match play experience than Choi. Pressel has appeared on three U.S. Solheim Cup teams and won the 2005 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship.
Anna Nordqvist of Sweden vs. Amy Yang of Korea
This match features two players hungry for an LPGA Tour victory. While Yang has sights set on becoming a Rolex First Time Winner this week, Nordqvist is looking for her first LPGA Tour victory since the 2009 LPGA Tour Championship. Nordqvist defeated Shin 2&1 to earn a spot into tomorrow's third round while Yang knocked off Gulbis 5&4.
Jodi Ewart of England vs. Azahara Munoz of Spain
Jodie Ewart and Azahara Munoz were forced to beat two LPGA veterans on Friday to punch their ticket into Saturday's sweet 16 match. Munoz has experience on her side as she lost in the finals of the 2008 U.S. Women's Amateur Champion to Amanda Blumenherst and was a three-time European PING Junior Solheim Cup team member (2002, 2003, 2005). She was also a rookie on the 2011 European Solheim Cup team where she posted a 2-1-1 record. This season, Ewart has posted two top-20 finishes including a season best tied for seventh finish at the Kia Classic. Ewart has taken a difficult path to the third round beating defending champion Suzann Pettersen in the first and eight time European Solheim Cup team member Sophie Gustafson in the second round.
Stacy Lewis of the United States vs. Sun Young Yoo of South Korea
One of the most intriguing matches on the Saturday calendar features two Kraft Nabisco Champions Stacy Lewis and Sun Young Yoo. 2011 Kraft Nabisco Champion Lewis defeated 2011 European Solheim Cup team rookie 4&3 with five birdies during the second round. Lewis is currently No. 7 on the Rolex Rankings and is coming off her second career LPGA Tour victory at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. Yoo, winner of this year's Kraft Nabisco Championship needed all 18 holes on Friday during her 2 up victory over Jessica Korda. Yoo became a Rolex First Time Winner at the 2010 Sybase Match Play Championship.