Wie wins tight opening match at Sybase Championship
AP Sports Writer
GLADSTONE, N.J. — Michelle Wie survived a tight opening match against Stacy Prammanasudh on Thursday in the Sybase Match Play Championship, taking the lead with a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th and winning 2-up with a conceded birdie on 18.
"It was a fight. She played extremely well," Wie said. "It was one of those matches where you had to make birdie to win, so kind of with that mindset, I went out and grinded and just tried to make birdies."
The eighth-seeded Wie will face Hee Young Park, a 19-hole winner over Ji Young Oh, in the second round Friday at Hamilton Farm.
Top-seeded Jiyai Shin and No. 2 Ai Miyazato also advanced, while 49-year-old Juli Inskter rallied to beat third-seeded Suzann Pettersen in 21 holes.
"If Suzann and I played 10 days in a row, she would probably beat me seven," said Inkster, a 31-time LPGA Tour winner in her Hall of Fame career.
In perfect, cloudless conditions after rain soaked the hilly course Tuesday, Shin beat Kyeong Bae 3 and 2, and Miyazato, the winner of three of the first six events of the season, topped Jeong Jang 4 and 3. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in the fairways.
Inkster made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th to force extra holes, then finished off Pettersen with a 4-foot par putt on the par-3 third.
"I was never up in the match all day, so it's just match play, it's weird," Inkster said. "I don't think we both played our best golf, but that's the thing with match play. Even though you're playing the third-best player in the world, if you make a few putts and hit a few good shots here and there, you have a shot."
Inkster will face Amy Yang in the second round. Shin will play Hee-Won Han, and Miyazato will face M.J. Hur.
Playing in the last group of the day, Wie and Prammanasudh teed off a little over 30 minutes late because three of the first four matches went to extra holes.
They still got off to a fast start, with Wie holing out from 50 feet for birdie with a lob wedge after Prammanasudh hit her second shot to 3 feet.
"She put it in 3 feet and that's the only thing I had," Wie said.
Wie took the lead with a birdie on No. 4, but Prammanasudh birdied No. 6 and won the eighth with a par to take a 1-up lead. Wie birdied Nos. 10 and 11 for a 1-up advantage, but Prammanasudh birdied the 15th to tie it again.
Wie regained the lead with her long birdie putt on 16 and they halved 17 with pars.
On the 515-yard 18th, Wie hit a wedge shot to 8 feet to set up a birdie chance. Prammanasudh hit her second shot into a bunker about 80 yards from the green, sent her third over the green and conceded the match after failing to reach the putting surface from the fescue with her fourth shot.
"It's match play, you never know what is going to happen," Prammanasudh said. "I played my best. ... I think we were both 4 under after 17 and I hit great shots all day and unfortunately hit one bad one."
Se Ri Pak, a playoff winner last week in Mobile, Ala., dropped out with a 3-and-2 loss to Azahara Munoz, and 62nd-seeded Beatriz Recari upset Brittany Lincicome, the match-play winner in 2006 at Hamilton Farm.
Recari won 1-up despite giving up 60-70 yards off the tee to the long-hitting Lincicome.
"I had to be very strong mentally," said Recari, the 23-year-old Spaniard making her fourth LPGA Tour start. "I just had to focus on my strengths."
Fourth-seeded Yani Tseng, No. 5 Cristie Kerr and No. 7 Karrie Webb also advanced, while No. 6 Anna Nordqvist dropped a 2-up decision to Shi Hyun Ahn.
Tseng beat Wendy Ward 2 and 1, Kerr topped Meaghan Francella 4 and 3, and Webb eliminated Eunjung Yi 4 and 3.
DIVOTS: The third round and quarterfinals will be played Saturday and the semifinals and final are set for Sunday. ... The winner will receive $375,000 from the $1.5 million purse.
A field of 64 from the LPGA Tour started in today's first round for a purse of $1.5 million and a first place check of $375,000.
The second round will be played tomorrow with the third round and quarterfinals on Saturday and the semifinals and finals on Sunday.