Top LPGA players converge in Oregon

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Safeway Classic Logo 2007PORTLAND, Ore. ' Twenty-eight of the LPGAs top 30 money-winners will play in the last Safeway Classic to be held at the popular Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
 
The $1.7 million tournament will move to the larger Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore., in 2009 after more than three decades in Portland.
 
For sure I will miss this place, said Lorena Ochoa, who shot a 12-under par 204 to win the 2007 tournament by five strokes. Its such a special golf course. I like the greens. Theyre similar to home. I like the par 5s. If you can get good drivers you can reach a few of them and make it exciting and have some eagle chances.
 
Ochoa and Sorenstam view the Safeway Classic as a chance to get back to their winning ways. Ochoa won five of the first six tournaments she played in 2008 but hasnt won since May.
 
Sorenstam, a three-time winner this season, has one top-10 finish in her last eight tournaments.
 
I would say the last few months have been a little trying, said Sorenstam, a two-time Safeway Classic winner who plans to retire from the LPGA after the season. Its been busy lately. Seems like Ive been everywhere. Im running on the last bit of gas I have in the tank.
 
The Safeway Classic is the longest running non-major on the LPGA. Columbia Edgewater has been a popular tournament site since the tour began making an annual stop in Portland in 1972. The par-72, 6,397-yard course has hosted the tournament 27 times, and each year since 1990.
 
The Classic has outgrown the course, though. Pumpkin Ridge, which played host to the U.S. Womens Open in 1997 and 2003, is a 36-hole course with larger banquet and parking facilities.
 
We support the decision, the LPGA and sponsors decision, to go to the next place, Ochoa said. But it will be missed very much.
 
Sorenstam, who shot a tournament-record 62 during the 2002 tournament, said the Safeway tournament committees willingness to listen has helped Columbia Edgewater thrive.
 
Theyve always made changes with the growth of our tour, said Sorenstam, who won at Columbia Edgewater in 2002 and 2003. Its been great to come here.
 
Paula Creamer, third on the season money list behind Ochoa and Sorenstam, said this weeks wet weather in Portland, which dumped about an inch of rain on the golf course, has changed the way players will approach the tournament.
 
Its noticeably different, Creamer said. Theres holes out there where I used to hit 8 irons, and now youre pulling head covers off. Its like youre playing a whole new golf course.
 
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