Paula Creamer vs Suzann Pettersen Fantasy Match


Going into the final round at the WalMart NW Arkansas Championship, Paula Creamer and Suzann Pettersen are both in good position to finish strong although with Na Yeon Choi’s 13-under par lead, neither is likely to make it to the top of the board by Sunday afternoon.  Creamer’s starting the final round at 6-under par and Pettersen’s right below her at 5-under.  The distance is too great to span in a single round.  But let’s take a closer look at their 2nd rounds.  What if Creamer and Pettersen had been playing a singles match at the 2015 Solheim Cup, a likely possibility given their individual standings among the US and European team candidates?

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Suzann Pettersen carded a 68 on Saturday at the Pinnacle Golf Club and Paula Creamer carded a 69, so if you’re not familiar with match play it would be tempting to assume that Pettersen would have prevailed and won the match.

But match play proceeds differently than stroke play, computed on a hole-by-hole win-lose calculus rather than on a cumulative shots count.  Scoring for match play is kept and reported on the basis of that hole-by-hole calculus as [number of holes up] or [all-square] and [hole remaining to be played].

This would have been a tightly contested match, with the lead shifting back and forth between Creamer and Pettersen several times and it’s very likely the kind of hole-by-hole battle we’ll see unfold at St. Leon-Rot Golf Cub in September as the best among the American and European players go head-to-head.

Paula Creamer

Paula Creamer, WalMart NW Arkansas Championship

Suzann Pettersen

Suzann Pettersen, WalMart NW Arkansas Championship

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On the front nine, Creamer and Pettersen would have finished the first hole all square with a pair of pars.  Pettersen would have gone 1-up with her 2nd hole birdie and then back to all square when she bogeyed number 3.  Creamer would have gone 1-up with her birdie on five and Pettersen would have taken it back to all-square with her birdie on 7.  Creamer pulled ahead 1-up again with her birdie on the 9th and there it would have stood as they made the turn.  At this point the score would have been Creamer one-up with nine to play (+1 and 9).

Coming down the back nine, Creamer and Pettersen traded shot-for-shot for the first 5 holes, collecting 4 pars and then matching each other’s birdie on 14, as Creamer held on to her +1 edge.  But Creamer couldn’t respond to Pettersen’s birdie on the 15th and the match would have returned to all-square.  Pettersen went 1-up when Creamer doubled the 17th and then flopped back to all-square when Creamer birdied and Pettersen parred the last hole.

In match play Creamer’s double on the 17th would be less expensive than it is in stroke play.  It would have resulted in the loss of the hole in this case, but carry no additional consequences.

Of course, in match play, as in stroke play, games don’t end in ties and this match would have gone to extra holes.  I’ll let you speculate on the final conclusion!  Last week Pettersen lost her virtual match against Lexi Thompson, but who would have had the advantage going into extra holes in the Creamer vs Pettersen match, the player who ended with a par, a double and a birdie or the player who ended with three solid pars?

Next: Suzann Pettersen vs Lexi Thompson Fantasy Match