GLADSTONE, New Jersey (AFP) ― Top seed Choi Na-yeon advanced to the second round of the $1.5 million LPGA Match Play Championship by beating Scotland’s Catriona Matthew 3 and 2 but second seed Shin Jiyai was eliminated.
South Korea’s Choi, claiming the top seed by virtue of leading last year’s LPGA money list, was level with her European rival until a birdie at the par-4 15th and a bogey by Matthew at the par-3 16th gave her the victory.
Choi’s next opponent will be another British rival, 43rd seed Karen Stupples of England, who defeated South Korean 32nd seed Pak Se-ri 2 and 1.
Choi Na-yeon hits her tee shot from the first hole during the first round of the Sybase Match Play Classic at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, New Jersey on Thursday. (AP-Yonhap News)
Meena Lee ousted fellow South Korean Shin 2 up, sending home the World No. 2 in her opening match. Lee was the 33rd seed, the toughest possible foe to be had from Tuesday’s blind draw of opponents after the top 32 were bracketed.
Shin and Lee halved 14 of the first 16 holes, Lee taking an edge with a birdie at the par-4 fourth and Shin, who never led, squaring the match when Lee began the back nine with a bogey.
But after each woman parred five holes in a row, Lee birdied the par-4 17th and par-5 18th holes to claim victory and book a second-round date against another compatriot, 55th seed Kim Mi-hyun, who beat Korean MJ Hur 3 and 1.
World No. 1 and LPGA season money leader Yani Tseng of Taiwan, the fourth seed, defeated 63rd seed Marcy Hart 3 and 2. Tseng was only 1up with four to play but birdied the 15th and parred the 16th to close out the American.
The only lower-ranked foe than Hart in the field is up next for Tseng in American Jenny Suh, who ousted U.S. veteran Juli Inkster 2 and 1.
U.S. ninth seed Michelle Wie won the last three holes with a birdie and two pars to advance past Spain’s Beatriz Recari 4 and 3. Wie next faces Swedish 24th seed Anna Nordqvist, who ousted South Korean Kang Hae-ji 4 and 3.
Defending champion Yoo Sun -young, a South Korean who won her first LPGA title by beating Angela Stanford 3 and 1 in last year’s Match-Play final, began by edging compatriot Grace Park in 21 holes.
Yoo next faces Canada’s 50th-seeded Alena Sharp, who downed Japan’s Mika Miyazato 4 and 3. Yoo could meet top seed Choi in the third round.
A feature match in Friday’s second round will pit Australian 23rd seed Karrie Webb, a 3-and-2 winner over 59th-seeded compatriot Sarah Kemp, against U.S. 10th seed Paula Creamer, who eliminated American Aree Song 5 and 4.
Play continues through Sunday’s semi-finals and final for the $375,000 top prize.