Stacy Lewis is the top US player left in the Sybase Match Play Championship, and it is really not a surprise.
Lewis has been the best US player on the LPGA Tour all season.
On Friday, Lewis won the first four holes and rolled to a 4-and-3 decision over Sandra Gal in the second round at Hamilton Farm Golf Club.
The tournament has become a minefield for the tour’s marque players. Defending champion Suzann Pettersen, No. 4 ranked Ai Miyazato and US stars Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome and Michelle Wie went down in the opening round.
Cristie Kerr, last year’s runner-up and the No. 5 ranked player, lost on Friday along with No. 7 Shin Ji-yai and No. 14 Karrie Webb. Eleven of the 20 seeded players in the 64-woman field have been eliminated.
There is still talent at the top.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng of Taiwan posted a 3-and-1 win over US’ Katie Futcher, and No. 2-ranked Choi Na-yeon was a 3-and-2 winner of fellow South Korean Jenny Shin.
Taiwan’s Candie Kung beat Kang Hae-ji one-up.
The 27-year-old Lewis has more pressing problems. Her third-round opponent will be Yoo Sun-young, who won this event two years ago and the tour’s first major earlier this year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
So is Lewis. She has a win and four other top-10 finishes with earnings of US$436,746, fourth-best on tour.
Her sights are set on being the top US player.
“That’s the reason I go out and play every day,” Lewis said. “I think I’ve probably been playing as good, if not better, than a lot of the American players and I haven’t got noticed yet, and that’s what drives me every day to go out and get better and to keep playing and to keep winning matches. I think if you’re up on that leaderboard enough and you win enough golf tournaments, people will start to take notice.”
“I haven’t been noticed, but it’s driving me every day,” she said.
Lewis never gave Gal a chance. The former Arkansas star played 15 holes in 5-under par. She made birdies of 4, 10 and 30 feet on the first three holes and won the fourth when Gal bogeyed.
The German moved within 2-down after 11 holes, but Lewis birdied the 13th and 14th to open daylight again.
Tseng, who has won three events this year, was down 1 after seven holes, but she won four holes between Nos. 11 and 17 to move on.
Choi never trailed against Shin and closed out her countrywoman with a birdie at the par-3 16th.
Kerr saved par from a greenside bunker at No. 18 to extend the match, but she hit her second shot into a lateral hazard on the first playoff hole and had to take a drop. Hurst opened the door a little by missing the green and knocking her third about 4 feet past the cup. However, Kerr, winless since 2010, missed her bogey putt and conceded the match.