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Stats and Stuff: Munoz's surge contines with victory

Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Azahara Munoz of Spain hits her second shot on the second hole in the first round of the Sybase Match Play Championship at Hamilton Farm Golf Club on May 17, 2012 in Gladstone, New Jersey.

May 23 2012, Ward Clayton

Munoz’s surge continues with victory

Azahara Munoz’s steady climb up the golf ladder skipped a few rungs last week when the 24-year-old Spaniard dominated the Sybase Match Play Championship for her first LPGA victory.

Munoz never played the 18th hole in claiming the title. She is the first player to run through the three-year tournament without having to play the par-5 finishing hole. As the 19th seed, Munoz won six matches convincingly – beating Lindsay Wright of Australia, 4 and 3; Karrie Webb of Australia, 2 and 1; Jodie Ewart of England, 2 and 1; Stacy Lewis of the United States, 5 and 4; Morgan Pressel of the United States, 2 and 1; and Candie Kung of Taiwan, 2 and 1, in the championship match.

Munoz has been on a roll the last month, finishing tied for second at the LPGA LOTTE Championship (then a tie for her career best) and tied for fourth at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. Munoz has also made 24 consecutive cuts on the LPGA, dating back to last year’s Shoprite LPGA Classic.

Munoz built a sterling amateur career as the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up (to Amanda Blumenherst in Eugene, Ore.), winning the 2009 British Women’s Amateur, the 2008 NCAA medalist title at Arizona State and the 2009 NCAA team title for the Sun Devils. She was also the only two-time recipient of the Edith Cummings Munson Golf Award, which recognizes academic and All-America excellence. Munoz graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Psychology from Arizona State.

As a professional, Munoz was the 2010 LPGA Rookie of the Year and recorded a 2-1-1 mark for the European team in the 2011 Solheim Cup.

Same country, same room

Candie Kung reached the final of the Sybase Match Play Championship last week, but she need some help from fellow Taiwanese player Yani Tseng. Kung checked out of her hotel room on Saturday morning before heading off to a double round, with first Tseng and then an afternoon matchup with Julieta Granada. When she won both matches, Kung had to search for a hotel room to prepare for Sunday’s semifinals and final.

“Yani gave me her room,” Kung said. “I beat her and she has to give me a room.”

Kung said of who paid for the room, “Oh, I don't know. We're going to have to talk about that.”

Kung lost to Azahara Munoz in the final.

Pressel’s rebound

Lost in the penalty that Morgan Pressel received last week in the semifinals of the Sybase Match Play Championship is the fact that the 23-year-old has rediscovered her consistent game. Pressel’s third-place finish continued a streak where she has made all nine LPGA cuts this year and 17 consecutive dating back to the middle of the 2011 season. In early May on the Japan LPGA Tour, Pressel lost a playoff to Sun-Ju Ahn at the Salonpas Cup, an event that is a major championship in Japan and where Pressel’s last victory occurred in 2010.

The recent upsurge sets Pressel up nicely for the major championships. She has finished in the top 10 in three of the last four Wegmans LPGA Championships and owns a T2 (2005) and two top-10s at the U.S. Women’s Open.Also, Pressel will celebrate her 24th birthday on Wednesday.

Match play tough on top 10

Last week’s Sybase Match Play Championship displayed how difficult match play can be on the best players. Only one of this week’s top 10 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings made it as far as the quarterfinals. Stacy Lewis, ranked sixth, lost to eventual champion Azahara Munoz, 5 and 4.

Here’s how the top 10 fared:

Rank Player Round Lost
1 Yani Tseng Third
2 Na Yeon Choi Third
3 Suzann Pettersen First
4 Ai Miyazato First
5 Cristie Kerr  Second
6 Stacy Lewis Fourth
7 Sun Ju Ahn DNP
8 I.K. Kim DNP
9 Jiyai Shin Second
10 Shanshan Feng  DNP

Winners’ origins

Through 10 events this year, the winners have been from the United States (3 separate winners), Taiwan (three-time winner Yani Tseng), South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Spain.


The LPGA’s next tournament, the Shoprite LPGA Classic, is scheduled for June 1-3 in Galloway, N.J., which is located near Atlantic City, approximately two hours south of Gladstone, N.J., the site of last week’s Sybase Match Play Championship…This year marks the 50th for the Rolex Rookie of the Year award on the PGA TOUR. Mary Mills was the first recipient in 1962.

Topics: Stats and Stuff, Munoz, Azahara, Sybase Match Play Championship

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