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Pettersen looks to defend title in Portland

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Suzann Pettersen tees it up in the Portland Classic looking to make another late-season run.

At No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, Pettersen isn’t just the highest-ranked player in the field this week. She’s the defending champion at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

Pettersen’s victory a year ago launched a sizzling run of three wins in five starts. After winning in Portland, she went on to win the Evian Championship in her next start, her second major championship title.

“I always seem to play well in the fall,” Pettersen said Wednesday in her pre-tournament news conference.

It’s a good week for Pettersen to move back in position to make a run at the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. With her run a year ago, Pettersen moved within decimal points of catching then No. 1 Inbee Park. A back injury early this year slowed Pettersen, but she seems to be back in form. She hasn’t finished worse than T-7 in her last six starts, including a run at winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open and Wegmans LPGA Championship. The only real stumble in that stretch was a final-round 76 that cost her a shot at winning her third major two weeks ago at Wegmans.

“I’ve been playing really good,” said Pettersen, who is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only three-time winner of Portland’s LPGA event. “Felt like I had an awful good chance of winning the British, and I was in great position in Rochester, until the last day, when I kind of had a meltdown.

“But I’m playing so well. It’s just being patient enough to just let it come.”

Rolex world No. 1 Stacy Lewis, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Lydia Ko are not in the field this week.