GLADSTONE, N.J. -- Winning the Sybase Match Play Championship would be quite an early birthday present for Morgan Pressel, who turns 24 next Wednesday. Given the recent arc of her career, though, just making it to Sunday morning's semifinals is a well-earned gift in itself.
Pressel's best finish in 2012 was a T-20 at the Kia Classic. She is looking for her first victory since 2008. After a rousing comeback victory over No. 2 seed Na Yeon Choi Saturday morning, Pressel defeated Anna Nordqvist 5 and 4 Saturday afternoon. For Pressel, who will face 24-year-old Azahara Munoz of Spain on Sunday, this week has been a big step forward. (Candie Kung and Vicky Hurst will square off in the other semifinal.)
"No matter what happens, this is the best I've played in a long time," Pressel said. "I finally feel comfortable with my game again to a point where I haven't been in a while. I'm going to give it everything I have tomorrow. But I just have a lot of confidence going into the heart of the season."
Pressel has been working recently with instructor Ron Stockton, previously her short-game coach, on all parts of her game. She is trying to recapture some of the magic that made her the youngest winner (18 years, 10 months, 9 days) of an LPGA major championship at the 2007 Kraft Nabsico.
"Certainly people put expectations on me -- the media, the fans, my sponsors, everybody wants me to play well," Pressel said. "Having won the Kraft so young, I'm never going to say it was a bad thing. I mean, I'm a major champion, the youngest in LPGA history. I probably more than anybody else put extra pressure on myself to really be a world-beater, and I don't think I was quite ready for that and don't think I was quite mature enough for that."
-- Bill Fields