FINDING FAMILIARITY IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Current co-leader Sandra Changkija’s career best finish, a tie for ninth was at the 2013 Cambia Portland Classic. Changkija credits her success in the City of Roses to feeling comfortable in her surroundings.
“It helps,” Changkija said. “I’m staying with friends. I stay with two really awesome ladies. They’ve got a really cute dog and they just kind of distract me during the week.”
Changkija is staying with her alma mater Nova Southeastern University’s former Assistant Athletic Director this week and feels comfortable knowing a few people in the area. A distraction might have been just what she needed after deciding to switch putters on Monday.
“I mean, I’ve been hitting it really well. I just wasn’t making putts,” Changkija said. “I switched putters this week. I went to a Cure Putter. It seems to be working well for me.”
The putter switch-up this week has worked well for Changkija, who only needed 25 putts Thursday. When asked if her score will hold up against the field, she knows that others will be dropping putts as well.
“Maybe. If not, it’s not a big deal,” Changkija said. “There’s still three more rounds.”
BROOKE HENDERSON IN THE HUNT, AGAIN
Brooke Henderson sits a mere one-shot back of the lead at the Cambia Portland Classic following an opening round 66.
“It was a lot of fun out there today,” Henderson said. “I got off to a pretty fast start. I was 4-under through the first nine, and really took advantage of the soft and scoreable conditions out there this morning.”
The 17-year-old Canadian, who earned her way into the field by shooting a 68 in the Monday qualifier, feels that extra round at Columbia Edgewater was a key to her success on Thursday.
“I feel much more comfortable in the first round than I do lots of times because I’ve already played this golf course in a competitive atmosphere this week, and I think that really helped me,” Henderson explained. “I know it’s different when you’re just playing practice rounds compared to when you’re playing in competition, and I think Monday this week actually helped me.”
Henderson, who has three top-5 finishes in her eight starts on the LPGA this season, also believes her earlier experiences near the top of the leaderboard will help her heading into the final three rounds.
“I really learned a lot from those weeks there, and I think seeing my name on top of the leaderboard isn’t quite as shocking as it once was,” Henderson admitted. “Like I said, I like to see it up there. I just hope it’s there on Sunday.”
THE FINAL SOLHEIM PUSH
U.S. players are down to the final two weeks to make an impression before the Solheim Cup teams are announced. For Americans, the fight for a spot on the team is heating up.
Rookie Alison Lee is looking to make a strong statement these next few weeks to play her way onto Team USA and she isn’t hiding it.
“I want it really bad,” Lee said. “I’ve been thinking about it every single day for sure. I’ve been looking at the rankings every day and checking out my game every day…I’m just going to embrace all the pressure that I’m feeling right now to make it and use it and play aggressively this week and next week and hopefully get things going.”
Lee isn’t the only one focusing on making Team USA. Mo Martin is currently on the outside looking in on the Solheim Cup standings but a good week would put her clearly in the mix for one of the final spots on Juli Inkster’s 2015 team.
“That is clearly the goal,” Martin said. “That’s what I’m going to shoot for every day. I’d love to represent the USA and see what we can do in Germany."
Martin got off to a good start in her quest to make it to Germany in September by firing an opening round 67 to sit two back of the lead.
These next two weeks can make or break players that sit on the bubble of making the team. Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie, and Morgan Pressel are currently the only Americans “safe." Pressure is building and the players are looking for success starting with the Cambia Portland Classic.
“Right now it’s pretty much war against all the U.S. players, deep down inside,” Lee said. “I have my eye on the Rolex Rankings, so if I play well here and play well next week, I can potentially move up a little and hopefully get a spot through rankings, and that’s what I want to do.”