It’s going to be hard to beat last Sunday’s shootout between So Yeon Ryu and Na Yeon Choi at the London Hunt and Country Club but the Tour is ready to take on the challenge at the Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions Info. Defending champion Suzann Pettersen, who also won the Portland Classic in 2011, delivered a 20-under par performance at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club last year. Could she slide past Ryu’s -23 and challenge Annika Sorenstam’s record this week? The Norwegian is primed and ready to defend her title and I can see that kind of record-breaking performance in her bag. On the hunt for her first 2014 victory, Pettersen’s recorded nine top-10s, four of them in the last four events she’s entered.
The Venue & The Tournament
Originally built in 1925, Columbia Edgewater Country Club consistently gets high ratings for its immaculate condition, tree-lined fairways and environmental stewardship. The par-72, 6476-yard Columbia Edgewater track has hosted the Portland Classic 29 times and has, as well, provided the venue for a number of regional golf events in the Pacific Northwest, including the 2010 US Open Sectional Qualifier.
The Portland Classic, the longest-running non-major tournament on the LPGA Tour, has been owned and operated by Tournament Golf Foundation, a 501(c)(3) since its inception in 1972. Over its 43 years, the tournament has generated more than $17 million for Oregon children’s charities. With a purse of $1.3 million and traditionally one of the strongest fields on tour, this event is truly a favorite of players from around the world.
Pettersen and Her Challengers
World ranked 4th, Suzann Pettersen will be the highest ranked player in the field at the Portland Classic as well as the defending champion. In July she tied for runner-up at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, then followed that finish with a solo 3rd at the Meijer LPGA Classic, a T6th at the Wegman’s LPGA Championship and a T7th last week at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open.
Pettersen has a deep knowledge of the Columbia Edgewater track, she’s ramping up for her defense at the Evian Championship, and she’s going to be hard to beat this week. Even with Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko and Inbee Park taking the week off as a part of their preparation for the Evian, however, Pettersen is going to face some tough competition.
With her win last week at the Canadian Women’s Open, So Yeon Ryu has moved up four places in the world rankings, to 5th place, and is directly threatening Pettersen. Ryu’s been having a splendid season and with ten top-10 finishes on her 2014 resume she’s playing a consistently strong game. I’m looking for her to come into the Portland Classic with another victory on her mind, even if her good friend Inbee Park won’t be there on the 18th green on Sunday with the champagne at the ready.
Although Na Yeon Choi is ranked 15th, well below both Pettersen and Ryu, I’m not counting her out on this one. She certainly has the game in her bag. We saw that last Sunday. If she can carry the momentum from the Canadian Open into the Portland Classic, Choi will be playing toward the top of the board this week.
I’m keeping Brittany Lincicome on my watch list too. While Lincicome’s playoff loss to Inbee Park at the LPGA Championship was momentarily devastating she bounced back at the Canadian Open and finished at T7th, well above many of the top-ranked players. I think Lincicome, who’s moved up three spots in the rankings, to 27th, learned a great deal about the mental game during that playoff hole with Park and she’s already been able to put it to work. I’m looking for another top-10 finish from her this week and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in a Sunday chase for the top of the board.
Golf Channel will provide live coverage of the Portland Classic:
Thursday, August 28 – 6:30-9:30pm
Friday, August 29, Saturday, August 30 & Sunday, August 31 – 7-9pm.
All times are ET.
Additionally, my colleagues and I at ProGolfNow will be providing ongoing commentary and updates throughout the tournament. Follow me on Twitter @bethbethel and I’ll notify you when I publish Portland Classic and other women’s pro golf commentary.