PORTLAND -- Thursday was beautiful n Portland and a great way to spend a round of golf during the LPGA Pro-Am on at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
“Awesome,” says Natalie Gulbis, a tour veteran and LPGA Star, “I’ve played with the same group interchanged maybe a couple of people maybe the last 12 years here for the Safeway event, so it’s like visiting and catching up with old friends.”
Two big changes this year to the Safeway Classic. First, it’s back at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland after the past four years at Pumpkin Ridge in North Plains.
“It’s great to be back at Columbia Edgewater,” says Gulbis, adding, “the golf course is in beautiful shape. It’s fun to be here.”
Former U.S. Women's Open Champion Paula Creamer is 8th on the LPGA Money List with more than $700,000. She played in the Safeway Classic as a 19 year old rookie in 2005 and finished 33rd.
“ I have a lot of great memories, this golf course just suits my game very well,” says Creamer, “ I’m playing good golf right now and hopefully I can continue that this week. Just coming to a golf course that you feel comfortable on is a positive.”
The second big change is the tournament is now 72 holes with four rounds instead of 54 and three rounds. The tournament will finish up on Sunday.
Below is the AP report on the tournament.
Stacy Lewis is back. Inbee Park is out.
The second-ranked Lewis is set to return to play Thursday in the Safeway Classic after withdrawing from the Canadian Women's Open last week, while the top-ranked Park has pulled out of the event because of flu-like symptoms.
"I've never withdrawn before. It was physically hard for me to call the official and withdraw. ... Mentally, I was fried," said Lewis, who withdrew after the first round in Edmonton, Alberta. "It was probably the best thing I could have done. People have already said, "Man, you look a lot better.' I guess I should take that as a compliment."
The Women's British Open champion was exhausted after a draining and disappointing Solheim Cup in the United States' blowout loss to Europe. In addition to her major victory Aug. 4 at St. Andrews, the Texan won consecutive early season events in Singapore and Phoenix.
Park withdrew Tuesday. The South Korean star swept the first three majors of the year and has six victories this season. She has struggled in her last two events, tying for 42nd in the Women's British Open and fading over the weekend in Canada en route a tie for 13th.
"I'm disappointed I will be unable to play this week in Portland due to an illness," Park said in a statement. "Safeway is such a great supporter of our tour, and I always look forward to playing in front of the crowds in Oregon."
A 72-hole event for the time, the tournament returns to Columbia Edgewater after four years at Pumpkin Ridge. The purse has been slashed from $1.5 million last year to $1.3 million.
"A proper golf tournament is played at 72 holes," said Suzann Pettersen, the 2011 champion.
Lewis said there's less margin for error in a 54-hole tournament.
"Fifty-four holes feels like such a sprint," Lewis said. "If you have a bad stretch of holes, you're pretty much out of it."
Japan's Mika Miyazato is the defending champion. She said playing at Columbia Edgewater, rather than Pumpkin Ridge, won't be an issue for her.
"I like this golf course. I can play more aggressive," Miyazato said.
Spain's Beatriz Recari, a two-time winner this season, also is in the field along with Cristie Kerr, the winner in 2008 the last time the event was played at Columbia Edgewater.