For the second week in a row, the LPGA will try to tackle an AV Macan Jr.-designed golf course. The Portland Classic started in 1972 and has been contested at Columbia Edgewater Country Club 35 times. The venue covers 6,467 yards and plays to a par 72 with four well-guarded par 3s and narrow par 5s that will make the 144-player field rely on their par 4 scoring.
The average par 4 at Columbia Edgewater measures 382 yards, which is well below the weekly LPGA length. To contend, each of the top 65 and ties who plan to play the weekend must hit the fairway. Much like Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club a week ago, the landing areas off the tee are small and well-protected. Eight of the 14 driving holes have bunkers and 13 bend through the trees.
Twelve of the 14 tee shots favor a left-to-right ball flight. Outside the short grass, three-inch rough and tall dense pines define each corridor. Andrea Lee, 2022 Portland Classic champion, is extremely accurate off the tee and it was that statistic along with recent form and a great iron game that helped to predict her first win. At +4500 she certainly wasn’t one of last year’s tournament favorites.
Fast forward a year later, Megan Khang’s (+4000) opportunity in Vancouver was easy to highlight. Another player who is Incredibly accurate off the tee, Khang delivered in Canada and became a Rolex First-Time Winner, after defeating Jin Young Ko in a playoff. Each of these previews is designed to explain the skills needed to win and match them up with who possesses them on the LPGA Tour. Since both Shaughnessy and Columbia Edgewater were designed by the same person, our leaderboards should hypothetically match.
The best driver in the game right now is Linn Grant and her T6 finish last week in Canada makes sense. Just below her in the strokes gained off the tee category in the Portland Classic field are Yuka Saso, Nelly Korda, Ruoning Yin and Carlota Ciganda. Each has a great chance to distance themselves from the field with their driver at Columbia Edgewater.
Analyzing this golf course, nearly 60% of approach shots will be played from between 125 and 175 yards, and accurate irons were also a hallmark of Lee’s win in 2022. Watch Yin, In Gee Chun, Hyo Joo Kim and Megan Khang. Who could forget Khang’s clutch approach shot on the 72nd hole to make birdie and force a playoff?
The average winning score at the Portland Classic over the last decade is 17-under. Lee got there by hitting 52 of 56 fairways (93%) and 59 of 72 greens (82%). Of the 144 players in this year’s field, there are eight in the top 10 and 23 of the top 30 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. They will have to contend with water on seven holes, 54 bunkers and an average green size of 5,500 sq/ft. Superior ball striking is paramount, and Yin is the number one ranked player on tour for strokes gained tee to green. Rose Zhang, Kim and Grant are right there as well.
Last week’s leaderboard is very important in finalizing a list of players to follow in Portland. Golf course architects have tendencies in their designs so success on one course usually means more success on another from the same designer. Study the successful players from Shaughnessy along with those listed above and come Sunday another of these picks will be holding the trophy again!
Keith Stewart is an award-winning PGA Professional. He covers the LPGA and PGA Tour for Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, LPGA, and PGA TOUR. If you are looking to raise your golf acumen and love inside information about the game, check out his weekly newsletter called Read The Line.