GLADSTONE, N.J. (AP) — It seems Angela Stanford isn’t going to settle for second place this year at the Sybase Match Play Championship.
Stanford birdied four of the final five holes to beat Paula Creamer 2-up Saturday and set up an all-America semifinal with No. 4 Cristie Kerr in the $1.5 million event at Hamilton Farm Golf Club.
Top-seeded Na Yeon Choi of South Korea will face No. 3 Suzann Pettersen of Norway in the other semifinal Sunday morning with the winners going for the title later in the afternoon.
“I love this golf course,” Stanford said. “I don’t know what it is. I love the greens. I feel like I can really see the break on the greens.”
Two down after 13 holes, Stanford, who lost in the final last year to Sun Young Yoo, rolled in 10-foot birdie putts at the 14th and 15th holes to even the match, then took the lead with an 8-footer at the 17th.
After Creamer missed a long birdie putt at the 18th, she conceded Stanford’s 10-footer for the match.
“Today, I thought I’ve got to get back to Sunday because I didn’t feel I played my match last year the way I wanted to,” Stanford said. “I would like another chance.”
Kerr, the No. 3 seed, is going to be a tough opponent. She has a history with Stanford, rallying to beat her twice in 2006, overcoming a four-stroke deficit in the final round in Tennessee and an eight-stroke margin in the Canadian Women’s Open.
Stanford doesn’t think she has competed against Kerr in match play, but she likes her chances.
“Today the match with Paula gives me a tremendous amount of confidence going into tomorrow,” Stanford said. “You know, as much as I believe I can do that coming down the stretch, to see it.”
Stanford didn’t finish the sentence, but the thought was clear. She believes she can.
Kerr hasn’t played more than 16 holes in any match this week and that trend continued in both matches Saturday, the last being a 3-and-2 quarterfinal win over Ai Miyazato of Japan.
Kerr was 3-up after sinking a 30-foot birdie at No. 9. Miyazato birdied the next two to get within a hole but missed a 3-footer at No. 12 that would have tied the match.
“She was on a roll and that kind of stopped her momentum and kind of lifted me up a little bit,” said Kerr, the reigning LPGA champion.
Kerr hit her second stiff on No. 13 and had a tap-in birdie and made another long birdie at No. 15 before sinking a 5-footer for par at No. 16 to close out the match.
Pettersen holed an 8-foot birdie putt on her good-luck final hole to edge world No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan. Tseng burned the cup on a birdie attempt from the same range seconds later to give Pettersen the 1-up victory.
In winning four matches this week, Pettersen nailed down her victories at the par-5 final hole.
“It’s been good to me so far,” said Pettersen, who played a couple of matches with Tseng, her good friend, last week.
“She didn’t have a chance,” quipped Pettersen, who is starting to feel healthy after battling a flu and fever on Thursday, a day she needed 18 holes to beat Natalie Gulbis.
Choi beat No. 42 Sophie Gustafson of Sweden 2-up in the other quarterfinal.
Choi admitted she was tired after spending 12 hours at the course Saturday and she knows that Pettersen will have an advantage in terms of distance Sunday.
“I am pretty excited to play her,” said Choi, who lost in the first round last year. “I think it will be a great match.”
The biggest upset of the day was recorded in the third round earlier Saturday when Gustafson beat Michelle Wie. The No. 42 seed sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to defeat the ninth-seeded Wie 1-up.
“I played horribly. I didn’t hit the ball very well,” said Wie, who lost in the quarterfinals last year. “I fought until the end, hit a good bunker shot, but she made a good putt and there is nothing I can do about that.”
Wie wasn’t the only American to lose at the final hole.
Pettersen made an 8-foot birdie minutes before to eliminate Stacy Lewis 1-up.
In other third-round matches: Kerr beat Kyeong Bae of South Korea 3 and 2; Creamer beat fellow American Brittany Lang 3 and 2; Stanford ousted Meena Lee of South Korea 5 and 4; Miyazato beat Inbee Park of South Korea 2 and 1; Choi defeated Alena Sharp of Canada 3 and 1; and Tseng beat Julieta Granada of Paraguay 5 and 3.