Creamer Wie advance at Sybase Match Play
Creamer and Webb had impressive first-round victories Thursday in leading nine of the top 11 seeds into the second round of the $1.5 million event at Hamilton Farm Golf Club.
Their wins only led to questions about how the world's No. 8 and 10 players are being forced to play this early instead of a later round.
The answer is that the seedings are based on last year's earnings on the LPGA, so forget that Webb has won twice this year and Creamer is the defending U.S. Open champion.
'We shouldn't be meeting for another couple of rounds,' said Webb, who was 5 under in her 3-and-2 win over fellow Australian Sarah Kemp. 'But they did it the way they did it and it's still going to be a great match.'
Creamer, who won six of the first 10 holes in steamrolling Aree Song of South Korea, 5 and 4, expects a fun match, especially against someone she considers a mentor.
'She challenges me,' the 24-year-old Creamer said of the 36-year-old Hall of Famer she refers to as 'Webbie.' 'She gives me grief, talks about my pink balls, stuff like that. Those are the people that I really like to be around, that can take it, but they also give it pretty well.'
The Creamer-Kerr meeting in the second round isn't the only star attraction.
Michelle Wie will be facing former U.S. Open champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden. Wie only was 1-up through 12 before posting a 4-and-3 win over Beatriz Recari of Spain. Nordqvist won by the same margin over Haeji Kang of South Korea.
'It was a bit of a struggle for me personally,' said Wie, who won the final three holes - the last two on bogeys by Recari.
After almost three straight days of rain that saturated an already wet course, the sun occasionally accompanied players on a day that form held.
Top-seeded Na Yeon Choi of South Korea led the way with a 3-and-2 win over Catriona Matthew of Scotland.
The only major upset was second-seeded Jiyai Shin. The world's No. 3 ranked player was beaten by fellow South Korean Meena Lee, 2-up.
Suzann Pettersen of Norway, the world's No. 3 ranked player and the No. 5 seed in the tournament, needed to win three of the final four holes to beat Natalie Gulbis. Pettersen was conceded a birdie on No. 18 after sticking an approach shot on the par 5 from 50 yards. Gulbis, who played on a sponsor's exemption, missed a 12-footer to extend the match.
'It was a good, solid round, a good match,' said Pettersen, who was 4 under for her round. 'I played great. I made a lot of birdies so I am happy to get it done.'
Reigning LPGA champion Cristie Kerr, the No. 3 seed, won four of the first five holes in beating fellow American Amanda Blumenherst, 3 and 2.
Kerr, who changed her irons and putter before the round because she wasn't satisfied the way she was hitting them, will face Spanish rookie Belen Mozo, who defeated close friend Azahara Munoz with a birdie on the 21st hole.
'Why play something that feels worse,' Kerr said about the change. 'It's a hard enough game.'
World No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan birdied the 15th and won the 16th with a par to beat Marcy Hart, 3 and 2.
'To shoot 2 under is pretty good, but the match I needed to stay very patient, and she missed some putts on the back nine,' Tseng said. 'That's how it is. It was pretty tough.'
No. 6 seed Ai Miyazato of Japan rallied from 2 down with five holes to play and defeated Hee Young Park with a 23-foot birdie on the 21st hole. Miyazato birdied the 18th hole to extend the match.
'The hardest match I ever had,' Miyazato said. 'If we played one more hole my energy would be gone.'
Defending champion Sun Young Yoo of South Korea had to go 21 holes to beat Grace Park, a South Korean who lives in Arizona. Angela Stanford, last year's runner-up, got off to a good start with a 4-and-2 win over Candie Kung.
Maria Hjorth, who won the Avnet LPGA Classic a little more than two weeks ago in Alabama, was surprised by Seon Hwa Lee of South Korea, 3 and 2.
NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times
The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
After three days of stroke play, eight teams advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals were contested Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.
- Finals: Alabama vs. Arizona
- Semifinals: Alabama def. USC, 3.5-1.5
- Semifinals: Arizona def. Stanford, 4-1
- Quarterfinals: Alabama def. Kent State, 4-1
- Quartefinals: USC def. Duke, 3.5-1.5
- Quarterfinals: Arizona def. UCLA, 3-2
- Quarterfinals: Stanford def. Northwestern, 3-2
- Individual stroke play
TV Times (all times ET):
4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)
Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title
STILLWATER, Okla. – There was no way Laura Ianello could sleep Monday night, not after that dramatic ending at the NCAA Women’s Championship. So at 12:15 a.m., the Arizona coach held court in the laundry room at the Holiday Inn, washing uniforms and munching on mozzarella sticks and fried chicken strips from Sonic, her heart still racing.
Ianello got only three hours of sleep, and who could blame her?
The Wildcats had plummeted down the team standings during the final round of stroke-play qualifying, and were 19 over par for the day, when junior transfer Bianca Pagdanganan arrived on the 17th hole.
“Play the best two holes of your life,” Ianello told her, and so Pagdanganan did, making a solid par on 17 and then ripping a 6-iron from 185 yards out of a divot to 30 feet. There was a massive leaderboard positioned to the right of the par-5 18th green, but Pagdanganan never peeked. The only way for Arizona to force a play-five, count-four playoff with Baylor and reach match play was to sink the putt, and when it dropped, the Wildcats lost their minds, shrieking and jumping over the ropes and hugging anyone in sight.
Watching the action atop the hill, Alabama coach Mic Potter shook his head.
“I was really glad we didn’t win the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed,” he said, “because they’re a buzzsaw with a lot of momentum.”
Given new life, Arizona dispatched Baylor by three strokes in the playoff, then turned its attention to top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning.
Facing two first-team All-Americans, the Wildcats beat them, too, continuing the curse of the medalist. In the afternoon, worried that the adrenaline would wear off, Ianello watched her squad make quick work of Stanford, 4-1.
“They’ve got a lot of great momentum, a lot of great team energy,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “They thought they were going home, and now they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re playing with an edge.”
After a marathon doubleheader Tuesday at Karsten Creek, Arizona now has a date with Alabama in the final match of this NCAA Championship.
And the Wildcats better rest up.
Alabama looks unstoppable.
“They’re rolling off a lot of momentum right now,” Ianello said. “We know Alabama is a good team. But they’re super excited and pumped. It’s not the high of making it [Monday]; now they’ve got a chance to win. They know they have to bring it.”
Even fully rested, Arizona will be a significant underdog against top-ranked Alabama.
After failing to reach match play each of the past two years, despite being the top overall seed, the Tide wouldn’t be stopped from steamrolling their competition this time.
They roughed up Kent State, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, then frontloaded their lineup with three first-team All-Americans – Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight – in their semifinal tilt against Southern Cal.
Potter said that he was just trying to play the matchups, but the move sent a clear signal.
“It gets pretty tedious when you never miss fairways and hole a lot of putts and your opponent knows that you’re not going to spray it,” Potter said. “That’s tough to match up against.”
They breezed to the first three points, draining any drama out of the semifinals. Of the 99 holes that Bama’s Big 3 played Tuesday, they trailed after only two.
“We’re always consistent,” Stephenson said, “and that’s exactly what you need in match play. Someone has to go really low to beat us.”
That Arizona even has that chance to dethrone the Tide seemed inconceivable a few months ago.
The Wildcats had a miserable fall and were ranked 39th at the halfway point of the season. On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, sent a text to Ianello that she was turning pro. Once she relayed the news, the team felt abandoned, but it also had a newfound motivation.
“They wanted to prove that they’re a great team, even without her,” Ianello said.
It also was a case of addition by subtraction: Out went the individual-minded Quihuis and in came Yu-Sang Ho, an incoming freshman whom Ianello described as a “bright, shining light.”
Because incorporating a top-tier junior at the midway point can be intimidating, Ianello organized a lively team retreat at the Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson, where they made vision boards and played games blindfolded.
They laughed that weekend and all throughout the spring – or at least until Pagnanganan made that last-ditch eagle putt Monday. Then tears streamed down Ianello’s face.
Folding uniforms after midnight, she regaled Alabama assistant coach Susan Rosenstiel with stories from their emotional day on the cut line, not even considering that they might face each other two days later for a national title. She was too delirious to ponder that.
“I feel like a new mother with a newborn baby,” Ianello said. “But we’re going off of adrenaline. This team has all the momentum they need to get it done.”
Yes, somehow, the last team into the match-play field might soon be the last team standing.
Pairings, tee times set for championship match
STILLWATER, Okla. – Alabama coach Mic Potter has three first-team All-Americans on this team. It’s little surprise that all three are going out first in the Crimson Tide’s championship match against Arizona Wednesday at Karsten Creek.
Potter tinkered with his lineup in both the quarterfinal victory over Kent State and the semifinal win over USC. But with the NCAA title on the line, this one was a no brainer.
“We don’t want to sacrifice anything,” Potter said. “We just want to give ourselves a chance to win every match.”
Arizona kept its lineup the same all day Tuesday in defeating Pac-12 foes UCLA and Stanford in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. That meant junior Bianca Pagdanganan, the Wildcats grittiest player this week, was in the last match of the day. She won twice.
Now, with all the marbles riding on the championship match, Arizona coach Laura Ianello moved Pagdanganan up to the third spot to assure that her match is key to the final outcome.
Junior Haley Moore, Arizona’s best player all year, is in the fifth spot and will face Alabama senior Lakareber Abe.
“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a helluva ride,” Ianello said.
Alabama (2) vs. Arizona (8)
3:25PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (AL) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (AZ)
3:35PM ET: Kristen Gillman (AL) vs. Gigi Stoll (AZ)
3:45PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (AL) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (AZ)
3:55PM ET: Angelica Moresco (AL) vs. Sandra Nordaas (AZ)
4:05PM ET: Lakareber Abe (AL) vs. Haley Moore (AZ)
Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama
STILLWATER, Okla. – It’s the SEC vs. the Pac 12 for the women’s NCAA Championship; Alabama vs. Arizona, to be more specific.
Both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats cruised in their respective semifinal matches Tuesday at Karsten Creek. Alabama easily beat USC, 3-1-1; Arizona defeated match-play juggernaut Stanford, 4-1.
Alabama’s top three players, Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight were unstoppable forces in both matches on the marathon day. Stacked in the top three positions in the semifinals all three won their matches on the 17th hole, making the last two matches inconsequential.
Arizona, the eighth seed, won as decisively as second-seeded Alabama, but needed a miracle to be in this position in the first place.
Junior Bianca Pagdanganan drained a 30-footer for eagle on the last hole of stroke play on Monday to get the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor, which they won on the second hole. Then on Tuesday, presumably running on fumes, they downed top-seeded UCLA in the morning, then crushed Pac-12 foe Stanford in the afternoon.
Pagdanganan, Gigi Stoll and Hayley Moore each won both matches for Arizona on the hot, draining day.
“I don’t want to let them down so I do my best to rise to the occasion,” Pagdanganan said.
Said Arizona coach Laura Ianello: “How many players, when you tell them under pressure that you need them, can really handle it,” Ianello said about Pagdanganan. “This kid can.”