POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 20, 2011
GLADSTONE, N.J. » Paula Creamer and Karrie Webb were looking forward to playing each other in the Sybase Match Play Championship, just not this early.
Creamer and Webb had impressive first-round victories yesterday in leading nine of the top 11 seeds into the second round of the $1.5 million event at Hamilton Farm Golf Club.
Hawaii native Michelle Wie will face former U.S. Open champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden. Wie only was 1 up through 12 before posting a 4-and-3 win over Beatriz Recari of Spain. Nordqvist won by the same margin over Haeji Kang of South Korea.
"It was a bit of a struggle for me personally," said Wie, who won the final three holes — the last two on bogeys by Recari.
Creamer's and Webb's wins only led to questions about how the world's No. 8 and 10 players are being forced to play this early instead of a later round.
The answer is that the seedings are based on last year's earnings on the LPGA Tour, so forget that Webb has won twice this year and Creamer is the defending U.S. Open champion.
"We shouldn't be meeting for another couple of rounds," said Webb, who was 5 under in her 3-and-2 win over fellow Australian Sarah Kemp. "But they did it the way they did it and it's still going to be a great match."
Creamer, who won six of the first 10 holes in steamrolling Aree Song of South Korea 5 and 4, expects a fun match, especially against someone she considers a mentor.
"She challenges me," the 24-year-old Creamer said of the 36-year-old Hall of Famer she refers to as "Webbie." "She gives me grief, talks about my pink balls, stuff like that. Those are the people that I really like to be around, that can take it, but they also give it pretty well."
After almost three straight days of rain that saturated an already wet course, the sun occasionally accompanied players on a day that form held.
Top-seeded Na Yeon Choi of South Korea led the way with a 3-and-2 win over Catriona Matthew of Scotland.
The only major upset was second-seeded Jiyai Shin. The world's No. 3 ranked player was beaten by fellow South Korean Meena Lee, 2 up.
Toms excels at Colonial
David Toms is starting to again feel the kind of confidence he had when he was winning tournaments and consistently ranked among the PGA Tour's best players. That disappointing near-miss before Colonial isn't shaking him.
Four days after losing a playoff at The Players Championship, Toms shot his best score in more than five years and his best opening round ever. His bogey-free 8-under 62 yesterday gave him a share of the first-round lead at Colonial with Chez Reavie.
"It was one of those days where the hole just looked big," Toms said. "This round certainly helps me get past what happened last week at the end."
After forcing a playoff with K.J. Choi at TPC Sawgrass with a rare birdie at the 18th hole, Toms missed a short par putt at the famed No. 17 island hole that would have extended play. Still, that was Toms' third top-five finish in a stretch of seven tournaments.
"It is nice to be playing good again," the 44-year-old Toms said. "Certainly, I'm not going to try to figure out why.
"I just go out there and play."
His start at Hogan's Alley was his best score in 429 rounds — since a career-best 61 at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January 2006. That was the last of his 12 PGA Tour victories, and at the end of a stretch of eight years when he finished the season ranked 11th or better six times, including three times in the top five.