Originally created 07/08/06

Wie, Sorenstam advance in match play



GLADSTONE, N.J. - Michelle Wie is thriving on competition.

Playing her fourth event in five weeks, the 16-year-old Wie kept pace with top-seeded Annika Sorenstam on Friday in the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship, beating charismatic friend Christina Kim in the second round.

"I like this a lot better," said Wie, coming off a third-place tie in the U.S. Women's Open. "It's a lot harder to play one tournament, have more than a month off and then play in another. I really look forward to the summer where I have a lot of tournaments, where I can play almost every week."

With her mother shouting "Good shot, Michelle!" after each booming drive, the second-seeded Wie overpowered Kim 3 and 2 in an entertaining match.

"Obviously, we're pretty close and it's tough to put that out of your mind," Wie said. "You just have to think that she's just another opponent and try your hardest."

Sorenstam beat Heather Young, also 3 and 2.

The Swedish star began the week with a four-shot playoff victory over Pat Hurst on Monday in the Women's Open, then beat Virada Nirapathpongporn 3 and 2 on Thursday.

"I'm on such a high that I'm not even thinking that I should be tired," Sorenstam said. "I'm just looking forward to coming back tomorrow."

Sorenstam advanced to a third-round match against former Duke star Brittany Lang, while Wie will face LPGA Championship winner Se Ri Pak. Lang beat Seon-Hwa Lee 3 and 2, and Pak edged Lorie Kane 1-up.

Wie, making her 30th LPGA Tour start in a bid to win her first pro title, was 5 under for 16 holes Friday. She won all four par-5s with birdies, finished with seven birdies and had two three-putt bogeys.

Since failing to qualify for the U.S. Open a month ago at Canoe Brook, she finished two strokes out of playoffs in the LPGA Championship and Women's Open. In the first major of the year, she was a shot out of a playoff in the Kraft Nabisco.

"I feel like I'm playing very solidly," Wie said. "Obviously, tomorrow is a whole other day and you never know what might happen when you wake up."

With about 400 people following her on the hilly Hamilton Farm course, Wie won the par-5 second with a 10-foot birdie putt and took the par-3 third with a two-putt par.

Kim, outdriven by 40-50 yards throughout the match, rebounded with a birdie on the par-4 fifth, halved the par-4 sixth with a birdie and pulled even with a 13-foot birdie putt on the par-3 seventh. Kim then birdied the par-4 eighth to take the lead.

Wie tied it with a birdie on the par-5 ninth, took the lead with another birdie on the par-5 11th and went 2-up with a birdie on the par-3 12th. Kim got a hole back with a par on the par-4 13th after Wie missed a 3-foot putt, but Wie countered with a birdie on the par-5 14th. They halved the par-4 15th - with Wie topping Kim's 18-foot birdie putt with a 12-footer - and Wie ended the match with a par on the par-4 16th.

"I wasn't able to capitalize on the par-5s," Kim said. "I gave myself a lot of opportunities, but it just didn't pan out."

Sorenstam won the first two holes against Young, but dropped Nos. 4-5 and made the turn all square. The 68-time LPGA Tour winner then won Nos. 10, 12 and 13 and halved the next three holes with pars to end the match.

"It was a good match," Sorenstam said. "I'm quite happy with the way I played."

Juli Inkster remained in position for a possible quarterfinal match against Sorenstam, beating Catriona Matthew 4 and 3. The eighth-seeded Inkster will face Marcy Hart - a 4-and-3 winner over Liselotte Neumann - on Saturday morning, with the survivor facing the Sorenstam-Lang winner.

In the bottom half of the upper bracket, fifth-seeded Paula Creamer beat defending champion Marisa Baena 5 and 3 to set up a third-round match against Morgan Pressel, a 2-and-1 winner over 2005 runner-up Meena Lee.

"Unfortunately, I did not hit the ball very well today and Paula played unbelievable," Baena said. "She played great and she beat me."

The 19-year-old Creamer and 18-year-old Pressel played each other many times in match play in their junior careers.

"We've known each other for a very long time," Pressel said. "I think it's going to be a very good match. We're going to have to make lots of birdies, that's for sure."

Fourth-seeded Karrie Webb beat Gloria Hee Jung Park 5 and 4 to advance to a third-round match against Hurst, a 4-and-2 winner over Helen Alfredsson.

In the lower bracket, the Wie-Pak winner Saturday morning will play the Brittany Lincicome-Kyeong Bae winner in the afternoon quarterfinals.

In the bottom half of the lower bracket, third-seeded Lorena Ochoa will face Mi Hyun Kim, and Sophie Gustafson will play Laura Diaz. Ochoa overcame a four-hole deficit to beat Karine Icher 1-up, and Gustafson topped sixth-seeded Cristie Kerr 4 and 2.

Because of heavy rain early in the week, the players were again allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in the fairways and fringe.