GLADSTONE, N.J. -- Down two after two holes, Jodi Ewart thought she was going to get "absolutely thrashed."
She didn't put much pressure on herself coming into the match. She was
the third-lowest ranked player in the field. Matched up against
defending Sybase champion and 2011 Solheim Cup slayer Suzann Pettersen,
it didn't matter if she exited early and got ready for tomorrow's pro-am
with losing players. Yet she also didn't want to waste a chance against
one of the game's elite.
"This was my opportunity to show people what I can do and what my golf
game is like," Ewart said. "Obviously, you know, I'm playing the world
No. 3, so it was probably the most mentally draining match I've ever
It was worth the stress. The 62nd-ranked native of England rallied back
to go 1-up after 16, and Pettersen conceded her a 15-footer for birdie
on the 17th hole to end the match. Ewart's 3 and 1 upset of Pettersen was the
biggest surprise of Thursday's opening round of the Sybase Match Play
Championship at Hamilton Farm Golf Club.
Related: Pettersen's match-play success in 2011 an underrated
The recently-engaged Ewart (the wedding's set for January) said she
wanted to get off to a good start to have a chance against Pettersen.
That didn't happen, but she still stormed back to even the match with
birdies at Nos. 3 and 4, then won three straight holes (11-13) to put
pressure on the No. 3-ranked player in the world.
Once Pettersen ran her 20-foot birdie try about eight feet past on No.
17, she conceded the match to Ewart, who would've had to three-putt from
15 feet to drop the hole. But she had three-putted No. 14 and almost
lipped out a short putt on 15, so it was a bit of a shock when Pettersen
took off her cap to congratulate her.
"I just played awful from the fairway to the green," Pettersen said. "I
missed more greens today than I have all year."
Pettersen didn't lose to a slouch, though.
While Ewart, who will face Sophie Gustafson Friday, spent most of her time on the LPGA's Symmetra Tour last year, she won the 2007 and 2008 English Amateur Championship, earning her a spot on the 2008 Curtis Cup team.
She was also a four-time Mountain West Conference Player of the Year while playing for New Mexico. (The only player to achieve that.) She missed the cut in her last two events, but had a T-7 at the Kia Classic and a T-26 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
The native of England credits a ton of match-play experience as a junior golfer for having the right frame of mind to pull off the day's biggest upset.
While Ewart called getting her LPGA Tour card through Q-School one of the biggest moments of her career, the win over the World No. 3 is the biggest match she's ever won.
"On paper, I'm not supposed to win at all," said Ewart, "so there was no pressure on me. I just went out there played really fearless golf."
CLOSE CALL FOR YANI: Yani Tseng said Dave Stockton will be getting a call tonight.
Tseng admitted to being nervous throughout her opening match, and to losing her feel on Hamilton Farm's greens.
"I left myself lots of birdie chances, but it's really tough for me because I didn't make anything," Tseng said. "It was very frustrating out there. It was very stressful because I think I'm trying too hard, trying too hard to make a change and it just didn't work out."
The World No. 1 looked destined for extra holes, but Jeong Jang missed a 4-foot putt on the 18th hole that would've extended the match.
Tseng avoided a similar upset like Pettersen even after Jang won holes 10, 11, 13 and 14 to move the match to all-square.
Tseng will face Katie Futcher in tomorrow's second round.
GULBIS PULLS OFF COMEBACK: Natalie Gulbis erased a four-hole deficit with eight to play to upset the No. 23 seed Mika Miyazato.
Gulbis, ranked 42nd coming into the week, calmly rolled in a birdie putt at the par-5 18th hole to finish the comeback. It was her fourth birdie of the back nine.
Despite underachieving over the last couple years, Gulbis had a T-9 at the Mobile Bay Classic at the end of April, and closed strong at the year's first major, a T-8 at the Kraft Nabisco.
Paula Creamer was not as lucky, losing to the No. 57 seed Jennifer Johnson, 2 and 1.--Stephen Hennessey
(Photo of Ewart: Getty Images)