NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Anna Nordqvist played all three of her distance matches and only a clutch wedge kept her from playing even more on Friday as she was among the 16 players to advance from Group Play in the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play.
Had Nordqvist lost to Andrea Lee, she would have faced a three-way playoff. This seemed likely when the Swede fell into the stream before the 18th green at Shadow Creek while Lee was on the green about 50 feet from the hole.
Nordqvist, the top seed in her group, hit a wedge that caught on the back slope and settled 3 feet away, and Lee hit a three-pointer to halve the match and send Nordqvist (2-0-1 in group play) to weekend.
“I hit a good wedge there to draw the game,” said Nordqvist. “I’m very happy to move on.”
The Cheyenne Knight was the same, no water. She led her group with a score of 2-0 and needed only half a match against Sei Young Kim to advance. Otherwise, Knight would face a three-way overtime.
Kim had a 1 lead and hit just over the green. Knight hit a wedge of sand from 85 yards, caught the slope and stopped 2 inches from hitting the eagle. Kim missed her chip, lost half, and Knight headed for the Knockout Stage.
A weekend at Shadow Creek has a European flavor in the year of the Solheim Cup, eight Europeans among the 16 remaining players.
Five of these players won all three matches in group play. This includes Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela who beat Lilia Vu in the first round and didn’t give her another chance. Vu took first place out of 64 players after her first main event in the Chevron Championship.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Valenzuela. “I also know what it’s like in match play. You can earn three points. It doesn’t matter tomorrow. It’s just a huge reset.”
The next highest seed, Brooke Henderson from Canada, lost her first match and never recovered. Sophia Schubert won her match and took over the group.
The highest seed alive is Celine Boutier of France (3), who won 3–0 in group play.
Only one group made it to the sudden death playoffs. Thailand’s Pajaree Anannarukarn lost to Karis Davidson and they returned to 18th place for the playoffs.
Thai hit what looked like a perfect right-hander, bouncing along the first cut as it stopped in a deep hollow. Anannarukarn snatched him from there onto the green and eventually won with 3ft pair when Davidson missed the green for a long time.
“I was like, ‘Of all places, I’m in a divot.’ But you have to do what you have to do,” said Anannarukarn. “Try to hit the green. And it was… just perfect.”
Alison Lee, who now lives in Las Vegas and occasionally plays Shadow Creek, split the two matches in half and then faced fellow Vegas resident Danielle Kang in a group that at one point looked like it had a four-man play-offs.
Lee took control late, and Kang’s last hope was to play a left-handed chip as her ball was just outside the bunker. It was green and Lee advanced when Muni lost to Maria Fassi.
Only the top seven seeded in the 16 groups advanced. The others are Ayaka Furue (5) from Japan; Leona Maguire (7) from Ireland; Linn Grant (8) and Maja Stark (11) from Sweden; and Carlota Ciganda (12) from Spain