The balls started flying today at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland, Oregon as the LPGA
Safeway Classic presented by Coca-Cola got under way. Mild temperatures, a light wind, and a partly cloudy sky make it a beautiful day to begin a golf tournament in the Pacific Northwest. The airlines lost Christy Kerr’s (USA) luggage and she had a bit of a sartorial crisis; and Inbee Park (South Korea) and Paula Creamer (USA) both withdrew before the start of the tournament, but on the whole the start was smooth.For most of the day 18-year old Lexi Thompson (USA), who played an early tee time, was on the top of the board, finishing her round early in the day at 7 shots under par. With 5 birdies and eagle, Thompson shot a great round. But the lead didn’t hold.
Late in the day Pornanong Phatlum (Thailand) joined Thompson at the top of the board, and then pulled ahead to a solo 1st place position. Phatlum, ranked 56th by Rolex, has had top-10 finishes at the KIA Classic in March and the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in May. She’s playing well at the Safeway Classic. This could be her tournament.
Michelle Wie (USA) also had a good round today. She played bogie-free, putted gracefully, and carded 67. She’ll go into the 2nd round sharing a slot on the board with 8 others who are at -5, and probably spoke for everyone who’s trailing by a few shots in her post-round interview.
It feels good to shoot low in the first round . . . I hit it good today and it would be nice to
do it again tomorrow . . .
Michelle Wie, post-round interview
Defending champ Mika Miyazato (Japan) had a tough time getting started. She carded 71 for the round, 1 under par, and struggled to get her flat stick warmed up. Miyazato, 19th in the Rolex Rankings, has had a lukewarm season, top-10 finishes at the abbreviated Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic in May and the Wal Mart NW Arkansas Championship in June. For the most part, she’s played in the middle of the ranks, and her performance today seemed to be following a season-long pattern.
With Inbee Park’s withdrawal, Stacy Lewis (USA) was the top ranked player in the field. Lewis played a bogie-free round and went to the clubhouse with 29 putts, 5 shots under par, and 3 shots off the lead.
Natalie Gublis (USA) also had a good day. She aced the par-3 2nd hole, for the second time!
Min Seo Kwak (South Korea), first on the alternate list this morning, got a last-minute slot when Creamer withdrew, citing personal reasons. Kwack, a 2012 rookie on the Symetra Tour, has yet to cash a check on the LPGA Tour, so she’s working hard to convert this opportunity into income. She got off to a good start, carding -3, not a bad day’s work for someone who hadn’t planned to play a few minutes before she teed off.
Kristina Merkle (USA), the amateur who qualified Monday, also had a good day. Three birdies, an eagle, and a bogie got Merkle to -4 and keeping company with Suzann Pettersen (Norway) and Natalie Gublis.
PK Kongkraphan (Thailand), who with Merkle qualified for the Safeway on Monday, shot even par today. Two bogies and a double cancelled out the potential benefit of her birdies. Perhaps she’ll settle into her game tomorrow.
With 50 players finishing today within 5 shots of Phatlum’s lead and the scores running low, the 2nd round of the Safeway Classic promises more birdies and eagles than bogies, always a pleasant prospect for a golf tournament.
Golf Channel coverage for the Friday 2nd round is scheduled for 6:30-8:30pm, ET, and I’ll provide a wrap-up as well.