In this week's Stats & Stuff, Ward Clayton breaks down the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola.
Pumpkin Ridge’s long tournament history
The Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club has quite a history with the LPGA. The Witch Hollow course was the site of the 1997 and 2003 U.S. Women’s Opens, with Alison Nicholas (the current Solheim Cup captain for the European Team) and Hillary Lunke winning titles. Tiger Woods won his third of an unprecedented three straight U.S. Amateurs in 1996 at Witch Hollow.
The sister course, Ghost Creek, was the site of David Duval’s 1993 Nike Tour Championship. Ghost Creek is the regular host of the Safeway Classic after previous stints at Portland Golf Club, Columbia Edgewater Country Club and Riverside Golf and Country Club.
No more three 5s in a row
Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek course had an unusual distinction in the first two years of the tournament when there were three consecutive par 5s around the turn (Nos. 8-9-10). But this year, the ninth hole will change from a 474-yard par 5 into a 375-yard par 4, its normal designation for public play at the North Plains, Ore., course. A creek to the right of the fairway and a pond to the left of the green will continue to make the hole a challenging finish to the front nine.
In 2009, M.J. Hur made two birdies and an eagle in the stretch to key her victory. However, the three consecutive three-shot holes also created logjams during the course of play.
Additionally, the downhill eighth hole, which played at 507 yards the last two years, will be pushed back to 566 yards, making it a three-shot hole for most of the field. Overall, the course will play 6,512 yards and to a par of 71.
Safeway’s superior field
The 40th Safeway Classic features the top 20 players on the 2011 LPGA Official Money List, and 97 of the top 100. Defending champion Ai Miyazato, Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1 and two-time 2011 major championship winner Yani Tseng highlight the field. In addition, 2008 Safeway Classic champion Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Jiyah Shin, Suzann Pettersen and Michelle Wie are also entered. Additionally, LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame members Karrie Webb, Juli Inkster and Se Ri Pak are scheduled to play.
Safeway’s long history
The Safeway Classic’s 40-year stay in Portland makes it one of the longest continuous event on the LPGA Tour. The tournament has been played every year since its debut, except for 2001 when it was canceled the week of the 9/11 tragedies.
At the first event, the 1972 Portland Ladies Classic, Kathy Whitworth finished at 7-under-par 212 to beat Sandra Haynie by four strokes at Portland Golf Club. The purse for the first event was $25,000, with Whitworth taking home $3,750. This year’s 40th tournament at Pumpkin Ridge will have a $1.5 million purse, with $225,000 going to the winner.
Look out for Lang
Just like in 2009, Brittany Lang is coming on strong at the most crucial point in the season in an effort to make the American Solheim Cup Team. When she played on her first Solheim Cup team in 2009, Lang finished the season 19th on the LPGA Tour money list and 25th in the Rolex World Rankings. She is currently 19th on the money list and 32nd in the rankings and has secured a spot on the U.S. Tea entering this week’s Safeway Classic.
Lang is coming off a runner-up finish at the RICOH Women’s British Open where she finished with a 67 and a back-nine 32. It was Lang’s sixth career runner-up finish.
In 25 starts in majors, Lang has five top-10s, including runner-up finishes in the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open (T2 as an amateur) and the 2011 RICOH Women’s British Open.
Her Safeway record is mixed, with two missed cuts and a best finish of T16 last year.
This week’s Safeway Classic is the final opportunity to qualify on points for the Solheim Cup, to be played Sept. 23-25 in Ireland. The battle for the final spot is quite close, with four players vying for the last automatic qualifier. Christina Kim currently holds down the 10th spot but could be passed by three other players – Katie Futcher, Kristy McPherson and Vicky Hurst. Kim has played on two Solheim Cup teams (2005, 2009) and McPherson on one (2009). Futcher and Hurst have never played in the Solheim Cup. Hurst would have to win the Safeway Classic to surpass Kim.
American captain Rosie Jones will make two captain’s selections on Aug. 21 to complete the 12-player team.
10…….Christina Kim….150.5……Missed 3 of last 4 cuts; $77,630 this year (59th)
11……Katie Futcher….133.0 …….T3, T14 and T14 in three majors this year; $214,420 this year (31st)
12….. Kristy McPherson…130.0….Lacking top 20 finish since March; $91,192 this year (53rd)
13……Vicky Hurst……112.5…….Missed only 4 cuts this year; $105,103 this year (46th)
|1st – 60
2nd – 30
3rd – 28.5
4th – 27
5th – 25.5
6th – 24
7th – 22.5
8th – 21
9th – 19.5
10th – 18
12th – 15
13th – 13.5
14th – 12
15th – 10.5
16th – 9
17th – 7.5
18th – 6
19th – 4.5
20th – 3
Pat Bradley’s Hall of Fame ringing remembered
Bells were ringing again Sunday night in professional golf when Keegan Bradley followed his World Golf Hall of Fame aunt Pat Bradley into the major championship winner’s circle.
Every time Pat captured one of her 31 official LPGA Tour titles – including six major championships – her mother in New England rang a cow bell to celebrate the title. That bell is now situated in her commemorative locker at the Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla. When Keegan, 25, won the PGA Championship on Sunday at Atlanta Athletic Club, his mother – Pat’s sister in law – was prepared to ring wind chimes when the Bradleys returned home to celebrate the rookie’s first major title. Pat, watching at her Cape Cod, Mass., home went into the back yard and rang a bell immediately.
“I grew up watching my Aunt Pat play tournaments my whole life and always wanted to be inside the ropes and do what she did.” Keegan Bradley said on Saturday after trailing the leaders by one stroke. “I just kind of tried to copy everything that she did and does. It’s kind of had me prepared for – a little more prepared, I think, for this stage.”
Keegan was born on June 7, 1986, six days after his aunt won the LPGA Championship at the Jack Nicklaus Sports Center in Kings Island, Ohio to complete the Career Grand Slam. Pat won three of the four majors in 1986 – the Nabisco Dinah Shore, LPGA Championship and du Maurier Classic – to become the only female player to capture three of the four modern-day majors in a single season.
The Hall of Fame has also asked for a replica of Keegan’s belly putter to place alongside his aunt’s belongings for display.
Happy birthday to Hall of Famer Betsy King, who turned 56 last Saturday…This week’s Safeway Classic is the first 54-hole event on the LPGA Tour since the ShopRite LPGA Classic in early June.
Topics: Safeway Classic