Good friends Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas won Thursday to set up a showdown for a last 16 berth in the LPGA Match-Play at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Kang never trailed in a 2 & 1 victory over Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, although her 3-up lead through 13 holes dwindled to one as Sagstrom won the 14th and 16th with birdies.
Kang, a Las Vegas native, finished with par on the tough par-three 17th to secure the win.
“I think we were trying to minimize as much mistakes as possible. We were making a lot of mistakes out there from beginning to end,” Kang said. “She made some good birdies coming in and all I kind of tried to do was keep it steady as much as I can, but there was just so many bogeys out there for us and so many mistakes.”
Salas dropped just one hole in her 3 & 2 victory over Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela. The match was tied through 12 holes before Salas won 13, 14 and 15 — nearly acing the 14th.
“Capitalized on a couple of her mistakes, but she played solid all day and kept me on my toes,” Salas said.
Kang said the Friday meeting would be “definitely interesting.”
“I’m playing one of my best friends. But at the end of the day, we’re still competitors. We’re going to bring our A games and see who comes out on top.”
Three matches on the last day of round robin play on Friday are winner-take-all: Kang v Salas and Moriya Jutanugarn v Minjee Lee and Stacy Lewis v Patty Tavatanakit.
Thailand’s Moriya thumped American Jaye Marie Green 6 & 5 on Thursday while Australia’s Lee beat Cheyenne Knight 4 & 3.
Lewis tied Australian Sarah Kemp while Thailand’s Patty beat South Korean Lee Mi-Hyang 2 & 1.
World number one Jin Young-ko survived an 18-hole showdown with Caroline Masson, losing a 3-up lead through 15 holes but beating the German 1-up with a birdie at 18 for her second straight round robin win.
World number two Park In-bee, the South Korean Hall of Famer who lives in the Las Vegas area, followed her opening tie with a 5 & 3 win over France’s Celine Boutier.
“Just trying to play a bit better than the day before,” Park said.
Third-ranked Kim Sei-young of South Korea claimed a tie by winning the 18th for the second straight day.
She shared the point with China’s Liu Yu.
To reach the round of 16 she must beat Brittany Altomare on Friday, then beat her again in a playoff for top spot in their group.
Altomare birdied 18 for a 1-up victory over Japan’s Ayako Uehara, her second round robin win.
World number five Brooke Henderson was knocked out of contention with a second straight defeat when South African Ashleigh Buhai birdied the par-five 18th for a 1-up win over the Canadian.
England’s Bronte Law — a European Solheim Cup standout — wrapped up her 2 & 1 victory over Austin Ernst in impressive fashion — with a walk-off ace at the par-three 17th.
“I was actually in between clubs, so I had to hit a really controlled eight-iron,” Law said. Caught it flush, it landed a little further than I was trying to, but I guess obviously didn’t judge it right to begin with if that’s the best result.”