Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola
Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Ghost Creek Course
North Plains, Ore.
August 17, 2011
Pre-tournament notes and interviews
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 3
The Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola will celebrate 40 years of the LPGA Tour in Portland, Ore. when the 54-hole event kicks off on Friday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Ghost Creek Course. Defending champion Ai Miyazato highlights a star-studded field at this year’s tournament which will feature 29 of the top 30 players on the 2011 LPGA Official Money List competing for a $1.5 million purse and a $225,000 first-place prize.
Another name to watch in this year’s field is Rolex Rankings No. 1 and five-time major champion Yani Tseng. The 22-year-old phenom is coming off her second major victory of the season at the RICOH Women’s British Open, which made her the youngest golfer in history – male or female– to capture five career major titles. Tseng will be joined in the field by the rest of the Top 5 players in the Rolex Rankings: No. 2 and 2008 Safeway Classic champion Cristie Kerr, No. 3 Suzann Pettersen, No. 4 Jiyai Shin and No. 5 Na Yeon Choi.
Ruby anniversary: Kathy Whitworth won the inaugural Portland Classic back in 1972 at Portland Golf Club, taking home a $3,750 first-place prize. The Portland Golf Club was the first of four golf courses that have hosted the event over its 40-year history. The tournament has also been played at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, Riverside Golf & Country Club and for the past two years it’s been held at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in nearby North Plains, Ore.
Since the tournament was first played in 1972, there has been only one year that the Safeway Classic wasn’t held and that was in 2001 when it was cancelled due to the tragic events of September 11. Thanks to the event’s longevity over the past four decades, players have become accustomed to coming to Portland every year and they have developed a strong affinity for the area and the event.
“It’s a staple on the LPGA Tour,” Cristie Kerr said. “Players love coming to Portland. I always have. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to win. I won over at Columbia Edgewater, and I’ve been close here. I’m working with Coca‑Cola and (Indiscernible) now, so it’s a family. It feels good.”
The longstanding tournament has also featured a star-studded list of winners including nine LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame members — Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez, JoAnne Carner, Juli Inkster, Patty Sheehan, Betsy King, Donna Caponi, Amy Alcott, and Whitworth. Five players have won the event multiple times, including Caponi who captured a record four titles in Portland.
Getting back on track: Heading into the LPGA’s two-tournament European swing in July, Cristie Kerr appeared poised to continue the success that she’s had for much of the 2011 season. The 14-time winner on the LPGA Tour was coming off five straight top-3 finishes and felt that she was very close to capturing her first victory of the 2011 season.
Kerr didn’t produce the results she was hoping for in those two tournaments, the Evian Masters and the RICOH Women’s British Open. Kerr finished in a tie for 21st at the Evian Golf Club in France and in a tie for 14th at the Ca
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