Hamilton Farm Golf Club
Quarterfinal notes and interviews
May 21, 2011
Cristie Kerr (def. Ai Miyazato, 3 and 2)
Angela Stanford (def. Paula Creamer, 2 UP)
Na Yeon Choi (def. Sophie Gustafson, 2 UP)
Suzann Pettersen (def. Yani Tseng, 1 UP)
The matches are now set for the semifinal round of the Sybase Match Play Championship at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, New Jersey. No. 3 seed Cristie Kerr will take on No. 18 seed Angela Stanford while No. 5 seed Suzann Pettersen will face No. 1 seed Na Yeon Choi as the original field of 64 is trimmed down to the two finalists. The winner this week will receive a first-place prize of $375,000, while the runner-up will cash $225,000. In addition to the championship match tomorrow afternoon, the two eliminated players will face off in a consolation match. The winner of the consolation match will earn $150,000, while the runner-up will receive $112,500.
The road to the semifinals:
Cristie Kerr (3) defeated Amanda Blumenherst (48), Belen Mozo (60), Kyeong Bae (47), and Ai Miyazato (6)
Angela Stanford (18) defeated Candie Kung (36), Wendy Ward (46), Meena Lee (33) and Paul Creamer (10)
Suzann Pettersen (5) defeated Natalie Gulbis (49), Amy Hung (45), Stacy Lewis (21) and Yani Tseng (4)
Na Yeon Choi (1) defeated Catriona Matthew (39), Karen Stupples (43), Alena Sharp (50) and Sophie Gustafson (42)
The only “upset” of the afternoon came in Suzann Pettersen’s victory over Yani Tseng. The two were ranked the No. 5 and No. 4 seeds respectively entering the tournament.
Down to the wire: Three of the four quarterfinal matches were not decided until the 18th hole. Angela Stanford and Na Yeon Choi each came to the 18th with a one up lead, but Suzann Pettersen was all square with Yani Tseng until her birdie on the final hole of regulation gave her a 1 UP victory. For Pettersen, it was the third time in her four matches this week that she’s won on the 18th hole.
Golden ticket winners: Ai Miyazato, Sophie Gustafson and Julieta Granada punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Sybase Match Play Championship, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 17-20, 2011 at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. Granada won a three-hole aggregate playoff with four other players for the third and final spot from Sybase. The inaugural CME Group Titleholders, a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament, is a format never previously used in professional golf. Granada earned her spot by tallying a birdie on the final hole of a three-hole playoff involving five players on Saturday afternoon.
The first match out tomorrow morning will be Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford. This is a match that features perhaps two of toughest American players when it comes to head-to-head competition. Kerr has proven her match-play mettle in five U.S. Solheim Cup appearances and is second among active American players for points in match play. Kerr will be facing another tough match play opponent in Stanford, who is 2-1-0 in Solheim Cup singles matches. A 14-time winner on Tour, Kerr is seeking her first victory of the 2011 season, having already recorded three top-10 finishes so far this year. Stanford, whose last win was the 2009 SBS Open at Turtle Bay, has two top-10 finishes.
A clutch putter with a honed short game, Kerr has been playing well this week. She’s won all four of her matches convincingly as she has yet to play past the 16th hole. But she’ll be taking on Stanford, who many considered to be the favorite entering this week. Stanford finished runner-up to Sun Young Yoo at the 2010 Sybase Match Play Championship and prior to her quarterfinal victory over Creamer, she also had not needed more than 16 holes to close out a match this week.
The second match will feature No. 1 seed Na Yeon Choi v. No. 5 seed Suzann Pettersen Choi earned the No. 1 seed as a result of finishing first on the 2010 LPGA Official Money List, but it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if Pettersen is considered a slight favorite in this match. Pettersen is a five-time European Solheim Cup team member and is more experienced in a match-play format than Choi. But having played just one round of match play prior to this year’s Sybase Match Championship hasn’t hampered Choi. Last year’s Vare Trophy winner with a scoring average of 69.8, Choi has already managed to knock off Solheim Cup veterans Catriona Matthew, Karen Stupples en route to the semifinals.
Statistically, Choi and Pettersen are very similar. Choi and Pettersen are tied for 12th in driving distance and rank No. 2 and 3 in greens in regulation this season, so this match could come down to putting. Both seem to be equally matched in that area as well with Pettersen ranking 110th in putting average while Choi is 116th.
QUARTERFINAL MATCH RESULTS
Mickey Wright bracket
Angela Stanford def. Paula Creamer, 2 UP
Annika Sorenstam bracket
Cristie Kerr def. Ai Miyazato, 3 and 2
Patty Berg bracket
Na Yeon Choi def. Sophie Gustafson, 2 UP
Kathy Whitworth bracket
Suzann Pettersen def. Yani Tseng, 1 UP
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Cristie into the interview room. Congratulations on your 3 and 2 victory today over Ai Miyazato and can you take us through that last match? You you seemed to get an early lead, and then Ai made a few good putts and then you were able to kind of get on a roll again.
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, it was a great match, I think closer than the score indicated. I started off great, made birdie and she made a long putt for birdie on the 2nd hole when I was in there tight and I missed the putt. We both missed several short putts today for birdie. It was where we both seemed to make the long ones and miss the short ones. You know, it was close until, you know, I was able to get the 3‑up lead. I think ‑‑ was I 2‑up or 3‑up after nine? 3‑up after nine. Made a long putt for birdie on 9 and she made a great approach into the 10th hole and birdied 10 and 11 and, and seemed like she was going to make birdie on 12 as well and we were going to be all square, but she missed a short birdie put and I was able to hit it tight on the next hole and kind of never looked back from there. You know, I won ‑‑ I was 1‑up and I won 13 and I won 15. And then, you know, I was a little friskier with the birdie putt on the par 3 than I wanted to be but I was able to close out the match. But we both played well.
Q. On the short putt on I think it was 12, did that give you some momentum, kind of open the door for you? How did you look at that after she missed that?
CRISTIE KERR: Absolutely. You know, she was on a roll and that kind of stopped her momentum and kind of lifted me up a little bit. And after that hole we had six holes to go and I was 1‑up and I said if I can get another one or two holes with a couple to go, I'm in good shape, and that's what I was able to do. Huge birdie for me on 13 and I made a long putt on 15 for birdie and that kind of was the nail in the coffin, so it was good that it kind of came together at the end for me.
Q. What did you hit into 13? I think ‑‑
CRISTIE KERR: 6, yeah, I knocked it like a foot.
Q. I believe that if the score holds up, you would play Paula in the semi's. I presume there's a relationship there? Tell me what you think about that match, what you think about playing her, if you do play her?
CRISTIE KERR: For sure. I mean, I look forward to it. I had a feeling we were going to meet in semi's. She's a good player, a good match player and it's going to be a tough match, They're all ‑‑ at this stage of the game they're all tough and I've just got to go out and keep doing what I'm doing, playing my own game, and putting pressure on the person I'm playing against and that seemed to work so far.
CRISTIE KERR: I don't know. Sometimes you just get feelings about who's going to win that week or who you're going to play in a match. I don't know, maybe I'm clairvoyant or psychic, I don't know.
Q. (Inaudible) match play?
CRISTIE KERR: I have, yeah, long time ago, but I played with her, you know, being ‑‑ I know her very well, she's been my Solheim partner a couple times so I know what to expect.
Q. You haven't gone past, I think, 16 all week. Is that going to work in your favor?
CRISTIE KERR: I hope so. I mean, the 17th and 18th holes are pretty straightforward, so I played them in the practice round and I've been here year after year, so I think ‑‑ I guess, I don't know, I think it's all right.
CRISTIE KERR: Oh, yeah, at this stage of the game you want to save holes, you know? Playing however many ‑‑ I played 32 instead of 36 holes. Yesterday I didn't play very many, so you've got to think that adds up.
Q. Just to stay calm out there and handle, you know, the momentum changes because it was like after 9 you make that bomb there, you look like you're in charge, and then two holes later it's almost completely reversed?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, that's match play. That's why it's golf kind of in its purest form. No matter what, you have to stay calm and play your own game. If somebody hits a good shot, you hit a good shot, instead of putting so much pressure on yourself. That's kind of the way match play is and that's why it's great for people to watch and it's great for fans.
Q. Kind of piggybacking off of what he was asking earlier, is that kind of the approach this week, because you have to play so much, you know, when include the practice rounds and everything, just to play just enough but not too many holes?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, hopefully. Hopefully you can close them out on the 12th hole every day, but that's not the way it works. At this stage of the game, it's an endurance contest as much as it is a golf contest and it's great that I'm done early again. It's great that I was in the bracket that I teed off early every day and got that extra little bit of rest, so I'm happy where I am.
Q. So you know what to expect from Paula. Could you expand on that a little bit?
CRISTIE KERR: She's a tough match player and she's got a great fierce will as do I. She's a good match player.
CRISTIE KERR: It's hard to say. I mean, I think we're both great American players and, I mean, we both have great wills and great hearts, so I don't know. I don't know if you can necessarily give one person the edge in that.
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Angela Stanford to the interview room. Congratulations on your victory.
ANGELA STANFORD: Thanks.
MODERATOR: 2‑down kind through the front 9, birdied four of the last five holes to take a two up victory over Paula Creamer. What was the big turning point for you during the match today?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, probably getting up and down on 11 and 12. My swing had kind of started ‑‑ started to get loose, and to be able to get it up and down from the front of the 11 and the front bunker on 12, made me think if I could figure out my golf swing, I might have a chance.
MODERATOR: You felt good after the first match earlier this morning. What were your thoughts going through that front 9 when Paula was playing well and winning holes?
ANGELA STANFORD: The farther you go in this tournament, I mean, obviously people are playing well or you wouldn't be playing them. And Paula, Paula's Paula. Paula's a great player and you know you have to come with your best when you play her. I wasn't making birdies and that's what I kind of ‑‑ coming into this week, I said if I can make birdies, you know, obviously that's the deal with match play, you're hard to beat if you make birdies. You can't depend on people to make mistakes and Paula's not going to make mistakes. And the one she did make, I made one on top of it, so I needed to make birdies.
Q. You were in the same position last year playing on Sunday. Did you take anything away from last year and how to play that day?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, to be patient. I mean, you know, my first three matches, I won pretty quickly. I never saw 17 or 18, so you've got to know that on Sunday you're probably going to go to 17 or 18. I think that's probably why I was having a hard time on the front 9, because I was just so accustomed to being up on people at the turn and I found myself down. So I think just patience tomorrow and knowing that anything can happen.
Q. There's something about this place and match play that suits you?
ANGELA STANFORD: I love this golf course. You know, I'm not sure what it is. I love the greens. I feel like I can really see the break on these greens and I love that you have to hit longer irons. You have to be hitting it solid. It's just, you know, you can get away with your tee shots, but into the green you need to be hitting it solid and you need to know where it's going and I love golf courses like that.
ANGELA STANFORD: I'm still learning about match play. I'm not going to say that I'm a great match player just yet. I like the golf course.
Q. You got through Thursday and Friday, you're playing well. Are you sitting there going, "I'm not settling for second this year"?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, it's such a long road. You have to win, what, six matches against the best in the world. So, you know, today I thought, you know, I've got to get back to Sunday because I feel like I didn't play my final match last year the way I wanted to, so I would like another chance, yeah.
Q. You mentioned that last year you hadn't played 17 or 18. Cristie hasn't gotten there ‑‑ the furthest she got this week was today going to 18. She's only played 60 holes. How tough is someone to beat when they're on that streak when they're just blocking people out by 13 or 14?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, that means that they're getting up in the match early, so that means they're doing something very good right off the bat. So, you know, I have to go in tomorrow with the mindset that I have to do the same. I mean, I'm playing Kerr, is that right? She is a phenomenal putter. The girl walks it in from all over the place, so I expect she's going to birdie two or three out of the first five at least, so I have to do the same.
ANGELA STANFORD: I don't think so, and I'm not even sure ‑‑ I think we played a practice round together at Solheim and I'm not even sure how much we've played in stroke play.
Q. You said you didn't play the match you wanted to last year here in the final. What about that match bothered you? What did you learn from that?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, you know, I wasn't hitting golf shots. I mean, I kind of got ahead of myself and I let a few mistakes early bother me. I just kind of ‑‑ I kind of checked out because I thought, well, again, I'm not up ‑‑ I'm not up early, so it's not that I didn't fight, it's just that I didn't think I could. Today the match with Paula gives me a tremendous amount of confidence going into tomorrow because, you know, as much as I believe I can do that coming down the stretch, to see it.
Q. (Inaudible) coming back today?
ANGELA STANFORD: No, I was just trying to get to tomorrow.
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Na Yeon Choi into the interview room. Congratulations on your 2‑up victory today. Can you just talk a little bit about the match and how it was out there today?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I think I had another tense match today, you know. I just ‑‑ I played well. Then actually my body, right now my body is really tired and I'm very hungry, too. You know, I came here 7:00 in the morning today and then right now I think over 7:00 p.m. I spent time here, like more than 12 hours. I'm very tired. And then I don't know, I was just calm and then I was good, stay in the moment, and then I just played one shot at a time.
MODERATOR: You said earlier that last year when you lost in the first round, that was your only experience in match play prior to this event again this year. How nice is it for you to make it to Sunday and to be able to get all of this experience in match play?
NA YEON CHOI: Well, every morning I was very excited to play this match game, this format. I don't know, I just ‑‑ I don't have any plan. I don't have any, you know, strategy, just play ‑‑ just hit fairway and then hit the greens, just make some putts. Sometimes be safe, sometimes be aggressive. I think just play my game.
Q. You're the top seed, but yet you kind of ‑‑ there hasn't been a lot of talk ‑‑ talk about Paula creamer, Cristie Kerr. You've kind of gone on. Do you feel kind of unnoticed this week or underappreciated this week?
NA YEON CHOI: No, I don't think so. I don't ‑‑ I don't think I have a chance to play until Sunday. I don't know. I think just I play and I think after first day I had confidence with this format, so that's why I can keep playing well until today.
Q. (Inaudible.) Suzann as a player as a competitor. Is she fiery, I guess?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I think so, yeah. She hit it pretty far and then I think this course is good for her because, you know, the course is very wet so we have to hit long. And then I don't know, I'm very excited to play with her and I'm just looking forward to play with her. It would be a great match, I think.
Q. Can you talk about the season so far and what your expectations were coming into this tournament?
NA YEON CHOI: I think I'm doing good so far. I went to Japan last two weeks and I played two tournaments in Japan that was in ‑‑ wasn't very good because I ‑‑ I think I had too much expectations by myself, so I had a little bit disappoint myself. But I came here, I feel a lot better playing here. I feel like, you know, I playingat home.
Q. Are expectations are different over here than they are in Japan?
NA YEON CHOI: I think so. When I play in Korea or when I play in Asia, like Japan, I thought maybe I expect too much about winning, results, so I think that was wrong last two weeks.
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Suzann Pettersen in the interview room. Congratulations on the victory today. Can you just talk a little bit about the match? I know you guys had a lot of back and forth over that back nine.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, well, I got off to a very good start, played very, very good. I mean, I played with Yani one time back home, we practiced, we played a match play last weekend. We know our games pretty solid in and out. But I got off to a great start. I kind of gave her I think I could have gone even deeper on the front nine and left the door halfway open going into the back and she made a few pretty good birdies. We both screwed up on 12. I felt like had I taken it back to 2, it might have been a different case. And then we tied that and she wins 13 and 14. So it kind of bounced back and forth, but at the end it comes down to who makes the last putt and I think I was lucky to get my ball in the hole first.
Q. Did you play her last weekend? You said you played match play?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, I played her at my club. I won.
Q. Oh, just a little what'd you win by?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, she didn't have a chance.
Q. How long was that last putt?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know, it was maybe eight feet and hers was seven?
Q. Do you like this format? Do you like match play? Does that suit your personality?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I'm definitely getting the most out of this course. I've been to 18 three out of four times. I mean, yes, I love match play, but it's all about momentum and I feel like my game is in good shape and I feel like I attack a lot of pins. I've been making a lot of birdies over the last four rounds, kind of leave it on the back today but that's what you've got to do, you just have to try to wear you're opponents out by just giving yourself a look. It's worked so far.
Q. Are you falling in love with 18? I mean, Gulbis, Lewis
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It's been good to me so far.
Q. Going down that hole, are you sitting there going, "I've had success her before, I expect success"?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No. Hitting that third shot, I'm trying to make it because, as you know, Yani's going to try to make hers, at least get it very close. It's a shame they don't move the tee up because then you might see some last year we were all going for it last year. They can move us up a little bit on the tee box and you might see people going for it and then it will be more of a I mean, as it sits now, it'll be who makes the putt pretty much.
Q. One of the LPGA people was saying you're under the weather this week. Is that true?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, I had a flu early, I was probably at my worst on Thursday, first round. That was a bit of a struggle. I played with flu and I think that was the last bit of it. And 36 today, just got to love that.
Q. (inaudible) on 18 Thursday as well, if I'm not mistaken?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, that was a tap in. That's a tough pin because you're almost better off getting closer so you don't get too much spin on it. If you're coming in with a full shot, it's a nightmare, you're going to spin off. So I just tried to get within a certain range where I knew I could control the spin. It was perfect for me. I kind of feel bad for Yani, she made a great effort on the back, but that's kind of how it goes.
Q. Birdied it yesterday, too?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yes.
Q. So every time?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: The three times I've been there.
Q. Have you played Choi before in match play?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Good question. I don't think so. I've been playing behind her for the last three rounds. Hasn't helped me much. You've got to go out tomorrow and what I'm trying to do, try to build my own score. I don't really try to play her. It's been working so far. I've been playing good, making a lot of birdies and that's what you want to do, get the putter hot.
Q. Can you talk about your expectations coming into this season?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, I mean, obviously I had a great year last year without winning. It was probably my best season ever. I mean, if you count wins or not, my game felt really good last year and I can't complain. I don't know what I had, six or seven second places and pretty much all top 10s. Worked pretty hard over the winter and just felt like I came off a really slow start. Even at Kraft my game didn't really feel that great, I was kind of not searching, but it just wasn't clicking. Just played a lot before Mobile and then I found it. It's amazing because you can work so hard, you can try to do all this stuff and the timing might be slightly off or it's just the sequence of it, and all of a sudden, Mobile was a good turnaround, I felt like my game was there. The first time I felt like I had a chance to actually win. It's just stayed like that. Now I'm pretty in a good part, I guess. It's been nice. It's been a slow start. Thank God we haven't played that many tournaments. It's hard to get your game going when you don't play that much. Sometimes that's what you need, just to go out and play and kind of see what the game gives you when you play one tournament and then you have three weeks off. So I've been just trying to play I played a lot at home. I just played almost 9 or 18 not every day but at least four solid rounds of golf a week.