After a stirring stretch of golf including the AIG Women’s Open and an enthralling Solheim Cup, strokeplay returns to U.S. soil for the LPGA under bizarre circumstances this week.
The Cambia Portland Classic announced a shift of venues in June after Columbia Edgewater Country Club – host of the event the past eight years – was declared unsafe by tournament officials because of a surge in numbers at a nearby homeless encampment.
This week’s tournament will be played at The Oregon Golf Club for the first time.
The longest running continuous non-major tournament on the LPGA schedule, Columbia Edgewater has hosted the event 42 of the 49 times it has been played and the decision to move would not have been taken lightly.
RIGHT: Georgia Hall won her first LPGA title on U.S. soil at this event in 2020, but won't return to defend. PHOTO: Steve Dykes/Getty Images.
A growing homelessness problem in the tournament host city of Portland – and in particular at an area close to the club boundary – saw organisers take the decision to switch venues just three months before the tournament teed off.
The location of the large homeless camp would have impacted tournament staff, volunteers, players and fans as they made their way to the course.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Major champion Georgia Hall claimed her first win in America when she defeated South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai in sudden death.
COURSE: A private facility opened in 1992, The Orgeon Golf Club is best known as host course of charity event the Fred Meyer Challenge which was played from 1986 to 2002 and hosted by former PGA Tour player Peter Jacobsen.
Jacobsen had a hand in designing the course.
Photos and course reviews suggest the course is laid out on mostly hilly terrain with some significant elevation changes in play.
Flat lies will be rare and caddies will have their work cut out calculating yardages that need to take into account uphill and downhill elements.
The 12th is a favourite with photographers, the downhill par-3 played across a valley to a green set in a bowl surrounded by trees.
This week’s field will face a course playing a shade under 6,000 metres where three of the four par-5’s are likely out of reach for most in the field.
The exception will be the 13th, playing under 500 yards, and potentially offering a late eagle chance for contenders come Sunday afternoon.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: A new venue levels the playing field significantly with none of the players having had the advantage of seeing the course in tournament condition.
However, the tournament traditionally boasts a strong field and while light on world top-10 ranked players this year is not short on recognisable names.
World No.2 Jin Young Ko is the highest ranked player in the field joined by fellow major winners Brooke Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn and Hannah Green among others.
Green is a former winner here and will likely be a factor again this week, but Canada’s Henderson will be the player to watch.
A two-time winner of the event (including as a 17-year-old Monday qualifier in 2015), she has shown a liking for golf in this part of the world having also won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club in nearby Seattle.
2020 champion Hall has made the unusual decision not to defend her title, one of several Solheim Cup players who have skipped the event.
Of those who were at Inverness, Brittany Altomare has a good record at this tournament with two third place finishes and the exciting young star, Yealimi Noh, is another to keep an eye on this week.
Australia’s Gabi Ruffels will also be worth keeping tabs on having advanced via the Monday qualifier to gain entry into the event.
Ruffels was one of only two players to finish under par at the event which was played on the tournament course.
72-HOLE RECORD: Brooke Henderson and Hannah Green share the scoring record, 267 (21-under), both setting the mark at regular host venue Columbia Edgewater CC in 2015 and 2019 respectively.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Hannah Green (2019)
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Hannah Green, Kathrine Kirk, Su Oh, Gabi Ruffels and Sarah Jane Smith.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 8am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 8am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 8am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 505 LIVE 5am – 8am)
*AEST, check local guides