The Safeway Classic presented by Coca-Cola will celebrate 40 years of the LPGA Tour in Portland, Ore. when the event tees off next Friday on the Ghost Creek Course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.
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.
The longstanding event has 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.
Sorenstam and Beth Daniel hold the record for the lowest round in tournament history, shooting a pair of 10-under 62s at Columbia Edgewater Country Club. Sorenstam’s 62 came in the second round of the Safeway Classic in 2002. Daniel shot her 62 in the third round of the event the following year.
Five players have become Rolex First-Time Winners in Portland. They are Michelle Estill (1991), Donna Andrews (1993), Missie McGeorge (1994), Soo-Yun Kang (2005) and most recently, M.J. Hur (2009).And while the victory came early in some players careers, McGeorge ended one of the longest streaks in LPGA Tour history by capturing the win at the 1994 PING-Cellular One LPGA Golf Championship in Portland in her 295th start on the Tour.
There have also been plenty of exciting finishes over the tournament’s 40-year history. The event has come down to a sudden-death playoff 11 times with the most recent playoff victory belonging to Hur, who beat out a pair of LPGA veterans (Suzann Pettersen and and Michele Redman) to capture her first win on Tour.
Portland has been a staple on the LPGA Tour since its very first event back in 1972. There has been only one year that the event has not been played since that first tournament and that was in 2001 when it was cancelled due to the tragic events of September 11.
And when the event tees off next Friday, defending champion Ai Miyazato will try to see if she can make it back-to-back titles at the 54-hole tournament which this year features a purse of $1.5 million.