Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Day 4

Feng advances to semifinals after 41 holes

LPGA Match-Play 2021 4
May 26-30
Shadow Creek, Las Vegas, Nevada
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 5

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

American Ally Ewing will take on Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn in Sunday’s first semifinal match of the inaugural Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek, while China’s Shanshan Feng, who won her quarterfinal match with a 50-foot birdie on the first playoff hole, will face off with Germany’s Sophia Popov.

They survived three days of group play and two knock-out matches on the extremely difficult Shadow Creek layout. They also pushed through five days of blazing Las Vegas sun and heat, with daily midday temperatures hovering around 100.

LPGA Match-Play 2021 4

Quarterfinals Recaps

Ally Ewing (20) def. Danielle Kang (5), 1 up

Ewing’s quarterfinal 1-up victory over Danielle Kang was a back-and-forth affair from start to finish. Kang had not trailed at any point in the competition and with a 2-up lead through three holes, it looked like she might roll again to victory. But Ewing made birdie on the 3rd and holed out from a bunker for eagle at the 4th to square the match.

“That kind of settled me down,” said Ewing. “Obviously from there on out it was a lot of trading back and forth of birdies.”

Kang took 1-up advantages twice more during the match, but Ewing never let her get too far ahead. Ewing’s birdie at the14th gave her the lead for the first time, and was the first time that Kang had trailed all week. After Kang birdied the par-3 17th to again tie the match, Ewing’s chip from the front rough at 18 rolled to within five feet for the birdie that earned her a spot in the final four.

“I knew if I gave Danielle any open door, she would capitalize as she did all day,” said Ewing. “Thankfully I rolled that putt in and sealed it.”

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The match provided arguably two of the finest performances of the week. Ewing carded seven birdies and one eagle in the match (with match-play concessions) while Kang had six birdies of her own and went bogey-free. In a de-facto host role this week as an MGM Ambassador and Shadow Creek member, Kang was the odds-on favorite to take the tournament title. It’s a tough loss to swallow, but Kang pointed to the duo’s strong play as a reason to be proud of how her week ended.

“I’m really excited about where my golf game is headed. I definitely took a little detour for the last few months, and about a week ago, I felt like everything is starting to come together. It showed this week. I played well today and Ally played really well, so it wasn’t like she gave it away or I gave it away. She won the match. I hope I get to go head on head with her again.”

LPGA Match-Play 2021 4

Ariya Jutanugarn (16) def. Minjee Lee (8), 5 and 4

Ariya Jutanugarn struggled with the heat in Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinal round, but not with her game in a 5&4 win over Minjee Lee. Jutanugarn won the first hole with a birdie and cruised home from there. She reeled off four consecutive wins at holes 7-10 to go 5 up through 10 holes, an insurmountable lead.

Visibly drained after two rounds in the difficult weather conditions, Jutanugarn laughed when told she made the win look easy.

“It’s not easy at all, and especially the course and playing against Minjee Lee. She is one of the best players on Tour. It’s match play. Sometimes you have a really good day and you lost the match, or sometimes you play okay and you win the match. It’s match play, so we never know.”

LPGA Match-Play 2021 4

Sophia Popov (15) def. Patty Tavatanakit (7), 3&2

Sophia Popov never trailed in her quarterfinal match against fellow major champion Patty Tavatanakit, only surrendering one hole en route to a 3&2 victory.

This afternoon, Popov won the 2nd with a birdie, and secured par to win the 9th and 10th to open her widest lead at 3 up. It was smooth sailing from there.

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“The afternoon was stress-free, for the most part. Patty was playing really solid. I was playing really well. I didn’t leave any openings, didn’t make any bogeys until No. 15,” Popov said. “I was putting for birdie almost all day, and I could have made more. I think for me it was very stress-free.

“Definitely happy that I didn’t have to go through the whole 18 and more like the first round again. I think maybe also that quick transition [between matches] helped. You almost just continue playing and I think that might have helped a little bit.”

Shanshan Feng (19) def. Eun-Hee Ji (43), 19 holes

Forty-one holes in a day is a lot of golf for anyone. Shanshan Feng now knows that first hand.

“Such a long day,” she said. “I never played 41 holes in my life. Never. I think 36 was the most, like for a U.S. Open qualifier. Yeah, 41 was kind of painful.”

It was especially gratifying for the 10-time LPGA champion to advance to the semifinals after such an exhausting Saturday. Feng ended her quarterfinals match against Eun-Hee Ji with a 50-foot birdie putt on the 10,th the first hole of a sudden-death playoff after the two were tied following 18 holes.

LPGA Match-Play 2021 4

“I’m very happy that the putt finally fell in the hole on that 10th hole there,” said Feng. “To be honest, there were quite a few times when I was on the course, I was like, ‘You know what, you have tried your best already. Yeah, maybe you don’t have to give it your 100%. If you make any mistakes, it’s acceptable.

“But at the same time I said to myself, ‘Hey, if you win today, you just need to beat two more person to win the tournament.’ My last time to have a chance to win a tournament was 2019, my last victory. So I thought about this and I was like, ‘I’m getting close. Don’t give up and fight until the end.’”

Feng made the turn with a 1-up lead and added to it thanks to a birdie on the 11th. But it was Ji collecting wins on the 12th and 15th who ultimately forced extra holes.

Round of 16 Recaps

Danielle Kang (5) def. Bronte Law (44), 2 up

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Danielle Kang survived a late charge from Bronte Law, winning the final two holes for a 2-up victory. Kang, who has yet to trail at any point this week, held a 2-up lead through 11 holes, but bogeyed the 12th to drop to 1 up. Law tied the match with a birdie at 14 but handed the lead back to Kang with a bogey at 17. Kang then reached the difficult par-5 18th in two and took the victory with a two-putt birdie.

“We both played pretty well on the front nine. She definitely outplayed me in the back nine, but I just think I got away with a lot of things. I technically hit it in the water on 15 and bounced out, and I just told myself, Members bounce,” said Kang. “I just told myself that’s the momentum shift, because I needed that. I should have lost that hole but ended up tying it. Made a clutch putt there.”

Minjee Lee (8) def. Mel Reid (24), 5&4

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Make it three matches in three days that Minjee Lee hasn’t played beyond the 15th hole. The Australian bested Mel Reid by a 5&4 final on Saturday morning to advance to the quarterfinals. A five-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Lee opened her match with a birdie and never looked back, winning three more holes with birdies and taking a resounding win over Reid.

“I holed a pretty length putt on the first hole, so that was a nice start for me,” said Lee. “Then I made a string of really good par saves, so had the momentum going. I was able to capitalize on my opportunities and just a solid morning.”

Ally Ewing (20) def. Jenny Coleman (61), 19 holes

LPGA Match-Play 2021 4

Ally Ewing stepped to the 18th tee trailing by one to Jenny Coleman, knowing that she had to win the hole to force a sudden-death playoff. After taking an aggressive line with driver off the tee,she nestled her birdie putt in to 4 feet and won the hole when Coleman missed her par attempt. On the first playoff hole, Ewing took the win with a par, bringing Coleman’s breakthrough Las Vegas dream week to a close.

“Jenny has obviously been playing great golf. It was a great match. Came down to the end. I had to win hole 18 to even get an extra hole out of it,” said Ewing. “Even though my feet are already feel tired, I’m ready to play more golf.”

Ariya Jutanugarn (16) def. Anna Nordqvist (32), 4&3

LPGA Match-Play 2021 4

Jutanugarn faced an early deficit against Anna Nordqvist when the Swede found par on the par-5 4th. She got it back and then some from holes 6 to 10, collecting four wins to jump 2 up.

A closing stretch of birdie-eagle-birdie from the 13th sealed the deal.

“No. 4, I hit pretty good tee shot. End up under the tree, so I had to hit out of that and make bogey. It’s kind of like okay for me because I miss and after that I start to make some putts, make a few birdies. I feel good. A bit tired but feeling good. I’m pretty sure I have to rest more [before the quarterfinals] because I didn’t sleep well last night.

Patty Tavatanakit (7) def. Nasa Hataoka (10), 6&4

LPGA Match-Play 2021 4

Patty Tavatanakit took the fastest win of Saturday’s Round of 16, only needing 14 holes to eliminate Nasa Hataoka, 6&4. After winning the first hole with a birdie, Tavatanakit earned a 2-up lead through two holes after Hataoka made bogey. She went up 6 up with a birdie at the 12th and while her bogey at 13 kept Hataoka alive for one more hole, Tavatanakit took the match victory with birdie at 14.

“The first couple days I was struggling with ball striking. You have to hit it good here. I feel like I got adjusted to that pretty well. Just kind of seeing my shot way better the past two rounds,” said Tavatanakit.

“If anything, I also read the greens a little better and have the right speed for the appropriate amount of breaks, so that helped a lot for the last two rounds. I was able to make some birdie putts, and I didn’t really make much the first two rounds. To be able to have that adjustment and walking into the weekend and playing again today, it’s a good feeling.”

Eun-Hee Ji (43) def. Jenny Shin (38), 19 holes

LPGA Match-Play 2021 4

It took 19 holes but Eun-Hee Ji got the job done. She defeated Jenny Shin with a par on the 10th, the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

“I hit it pretty well from the tee shot, so I knew I’m going to hit it well on the hole,” said Ji. “She missed the fairway on the drive, so [I knew] if I make the par I could win. I just kept thinking about that.”

Ji made the turn with a 1-up lead and added to it with par at the 10th. Then starting on 12, Shin won four of the next five holes to take a 2-up advantage. A par and birdie on the final two holes by Ji forced extra frames.

“She putted pretty well. I couldn’t make putts on other holes but the last two holes and she missed short putt,” Ji said. “At the last hole, I hit it really great, my third shot onto the green to make it happen.”

Shanshan Feng (19) def Brittany Altomare (30), 22 holes

LPGA Match-Play 2021 4

After 18 holes of regulation that saw neither player take more than a 1-up advantage, Shanshan Feng took advantage of a flubbed chip from Brittany Altomare, winning the match on the 22nd hole. Feng led by one for most of the front nine, with Altomare pulling into a tie with a birdie at the 9th and ahead with par at 11. Altomare went to the 18th with that 1-up advantage, but her bogey sent the match to extra holes.

After swapping pars on the first three sudden-death holes, Altomare mishit a chip from the rough at the par-3 13th, giving Feng the marathon victory.

“I think that was my best round out of the first rounds, to be honest,” said Feng. “Brittany was a very good competitor and also is playing partner in the group, and we really had fun and both played really well. I was just a little more lucky at the end.”

Sophia Popov (15) def. Inbee Park (2), 20 holes

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In regulation Popov stepped on the 18th tee needing to win the hole to force a sudden-death playoff. She accomplished that objective in style, putting her approach in close and leaving her with a conceded eagle.

“Going back to No. 16 we were all square, and I hit a great shot on No. 17 that I thought was perfect and ended up short; made bogey and I’m 1 down,” explained Popov. “I had a good feeling about my game [going to 18]. I smoked my drive down there, which is great. That was step one.

“Then I had 152 [yards] to the pin, perfect 9-iron distance for me. Landed a couple short, it came up the ridge and back down. It was good, so probably the ideal scenario.”

It took two extra holes but a birdie on the par-4 11th bested Park and sealed a berth in the quarterfinals for Popov.

LPGA Match-Play 2021 4


Match 1051320Ally Ewing<1UP55Danielle Kang
Match 1061616Ariya Jutanugarn<5&488Minjee Lee
Match 1071515Shanshan Feng<19 HOLES1143Eun-Hee Ji
Match 1081419Sophia Popov<3&277Patty Tavatanakit

Round of 16

Match 9755Danielle Kang<2UP1244Bronte Law
Match 98461Jenny Coleman19 holes>1320Ally Ewing
Match 9988Minjee Lee<5&4924Mel Reid
Match 100132Anna Nordqvist4&3>1616Ariya Jutanugarn
Match 101638Jenny Shin19 holes>1143Eun-Hee Ji
Match 102330Brittany Altomare22 holes>1419Shanshan Feng
Match 10377Patty Tavatanakit<6&41010Nasa Hataoka
Match 10422Inbee Park20 holes>1515Sophia Popov
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