There will be something new and familiar about this week’s Safeway Classic. The venue is Columbia Edgewater Country Club, which has been the site 20 times, the most in the 40-year history of the tournament. The new feature is a 72-hole format for the first time the tournament debuted in 1972 at Portland Country Club.
An American hasn’t won the tournament since it was last played at Columbia Edgewater in 2008 when Cristie Kerr defeated Helen Aldredsson and Sophie Gufstafson in a playoff.
The venue was also the home of the Portland Open on the PGA Tour from 1961-63 and in 1966. The winners included, in order, Billy Casper, Jack Nicklaus, George Knudsen and Bert Yancey. Nicklaus’ 1962 victory included a first-round 64 and a streak of six consecutive birdies. He was also assessed a two-stroke, slow-play penalty during the tournament.
If you’re a veteran, local caddie at an LPGA site, you too could get in on the Lydia Ko craze. In Ko’s two victories in the CN Canadian Women’s Open, she has hired a local caddie to help her win. Last year, it was Vancouver Golf Club member Brian Alexander. Last week, it was Bruce MacMillan, a 20-plus year Royal Mayfair member.
“In golf so many times you hear that every swing should look the same,” said MacMillan. “In my life I've never seen anything better.”
How much MacMillan offered Ko displayed the teenager’s maturation as a player. Last year, she relied on Alexander for yardages and green reading and asked MacMillan only for some guidance on the greens this year.
“There wasn't that much going on apart from the green reading,” Ko said. “They were both really shy, very quiet at the start. Then as the days went on, especially Bruce, he kind of opened up more. Then he gave me his thoughts as well, which was great, and Brian did that as well. It was really great to have such a good caddie, a good man on my bag.”
Mika Miyazato won her first LPGA title last year in Portland, two years after Ai Miyazato won the 2010 tournament. A Japanese player has won a tournament every year since 2008. There has not been a Japanese winner thus far this season. … Lydia Ko was born on April 24, 1997, 11 days after Tiger Woods’ Masters victory. … Some fan sported “Charley’s Angels” T-shirts last week at the CN Canadian Women’s Open in support of Charley Hull. … The two biggest Lydia Ko fans on the LPGA? Inbee Park and Karine Icher. With runner-up finishes in 2012 and 2013, each earned the $300,000 winner’s check at the CN Canadian Open since Ko is an amateur.