Creamer set to face Webb at Sybase Match Play

Paula Creamer hits her tee shot on the first hole during the first round of the Sybase Match Play Classic.
Paula Creamer hits her tee shot on the first hole during the first round of the Sybase Match Play Classic. ( Associated Press )

Friday, May 20, 2011

GLADSTONE, N.J. – Paula Creamer and Karrie Webb were looking forward to playing each other in the Sybase Match Play Championship, just not this early.

Creamer and Webb had impressive first-round victories Thursday in leading nine of the top 11 seeded players into the second round of the $1.5 million event at Hamilton Farm Golf Club.

Their victories led only to questions about how the world’s Nos. 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 Tour, 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 whom she considers a mentor.

“She challenges me,” the 24-year-old Creamer said of the 36-year-old Hall of Famer to whom she refers 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-Webb meeting in the second round isn’t the only star attraction.

Michelle Wie will be facing Anna Nordqvist of Sweden. Wie only was 1 up through 12 holes before posting a 4-and-3 win over Beatriz Recari of Spain. Nordqvist won by the same score 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, Hamilton Farm was bathed in occasion sunshine on a day when 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. 2-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 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 with 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.

Friday's Round 2 pairings

Patty Berg Bracket

Na Yeon Choi (1), South Korea, vs. Karen Stupples (43), England

Sun Young Yoo (16), South Korea, vs. Alena Sharp (50), Canada

Sophie Gustafson (42), Sweden, vs. Paige Mackenzie (61), United States

Michelle Wie (9), United States, vs. Anna Nordqvist (24), Sweden

Kathy Whitworth Bracket

Yani Tseng (4), Taiwan, vs. Jenny Suh (64), United States

Julieta Granada (62), Paraguay, vs. Seon Hwa Lee (40), South Korea

Suzann Pettersen (5), Norway, vs. Amy Hung (45), Taiwan

Shanshan Feng (37), Taiwan, vs. Stacy Lewis (21), United States

Mickey Wright Bracket

Meena Lee (33), South Korea, vs. Mi Hyun Kim (55), South Korea

Wendy Ward (46), United States, vs. Angela Stanford (18), United States

I.K. Kim (7), South Korea, vs. Brittany Lang (35), United States

Paula Creamer (10), United States, vs. Karrie Webb (23), Australia

Annika Sorenstam Bracket

Cristie Kerr (3), United States, vs. Belen Mozo (60), Spain

Kyeong Bae (47), South Korea, vs. Hee Kyung Seo (56), South Korea

Ai Miyazato (6), Japan, vs. Hee Won-Han (41), South Korea

Inbee Park (11), South Korea, vs. Chella Choi (53), South Korea readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.