LPGA Tour News: 2022 AmazingCre Portland Classic – First-Round Notes; Ayako Uehara leads Hannah Green by 1 stroke

AmazingCre Portland Classic

Columbia Edgewater Country Club | Portland, Oregon | Sept. 15-18, 2022

First-Round Notes

Sept. 15, 2022

Course Setup: 36-36—72, 6,354

Scoring Averages: R1 – 72.341

Weather: Morning overcast cleared to sunny skies with temperatures peaking in the low-70s in the afternoon; light and variable winds at 5-10 mph

Ayako Uehara at 2018 LPGA Kingsmill Tournament. By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

UEHARA LEADS IN PORTLAND WITH PAST CHAMPION GREEN AND FIRST-TIMER KORDA CLOSE BEHIND

The firm and fast greens of Columbia Edgewater Country Club posed an unexpected challenge for players during the first round of the AmazingCre Portland Classic on Thursday. The course received its first rainfall since July on Sunday, creating slower and softer conditions during the practice rounds. Thursday’s first-round leaders set themselves apart by their ability to change the gameplan and adjust to the drier conditions.

“I felt like they were definitely quicker than probably the practice greens. I guess as soon as you have a downhill putt you can’t be too aggressive, and some of the holes got a little bit firm and probably released a little bit more than what players would’ve expected,” said 2019 Portland Classic champion Hannah Green, who sits at -6 and one stroke behind first-round leader Ayako Uehara.

Uehara’s 7-under 65 is her lowest round since 2019, an impressive feat given this is just her third start of 2022 since returning from medical leave. The 38-year-old carded five birdies on the front nine, including four in the five holes before the turn, and added three more in her final four holes. The only blemish on her scorecard was a 3-putt bogey on No. 13. The Japanese golfer is joined in the top three by her countrywomen Ayaka Furue and Hinako Shibuno, both at -5.

“I think I’m very excited about (returning) and then glad to be out here,” said Uehara. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow again.”

Green sits in solo second after making eight birdies, the most by a single player on Thursday, and two bogeys. While the past champion knows Columbia Edgewater very well – she regularly keeps in touch with superintendent Jim Myers – her playing partner, Nelly Korda, does not have that advantage. This is Korda’s first appearance in the Portland Classic and her first round was, as she put it, “colorful.”

“Kind of an up and down day, but ended on the good side. Overall I played some solid golf,” said Korda, who shot a 67 in her Columbia Edgewater debut. “Maybe made a few stupid errors, but that’s golf. Mainly my missed drives. It’s so tree lined here. So many big, tall trees. But they’re very thick and they’re very high. So when you miss a fairway it’s hard to get through the trees.”  

Oregon local Caroline Inglis and Shibuno shared the third-place spot with Rolex Rankings World No. 2 Korda after the morning wave concluded, and it looked like it would remain that way until Furue added her name to the mix with an impressive finish on No. 9. The rookie shorted her approach shot to the fringe just in front of the green but chipped in for birdie to end her bogey-free round with a bang.

“I was trying to get it close but I’m thankful it went in,” she laughed.

Six players sit in a tie for seventh at -4, including World No. 5 Brooke Henderson, whose 2015 win at Columbia Edgewater launched her career on the LPGA Tour. The two-time major champion shot two birdies right off the bat and added three on her back nine on holes 3, 5 and 7. Chasing her third win of the season, the Canadian superstar looks to take advantage of the memories and familiarity of Columbia Edgewater.

“One of the courses I grew up on, the back nine is pretty tight, so out here every hole is really tight. You have to hit the fairways. Just similar grasses, similar temperature, weather, so lots of things remind me of back home, which is a great feeling,” she said “Yeah, just a lot of good memories from back home and a lot of good memories just from playing here.”

PORTLAND NATIVE CAROLINE INGLIS HAS HOT START AT HOME CLUB

Oregonian Caroline Inglis took advantage of her familiarity with Columbia Edgewater Country Club during the first round of the AmazingCre Portland Classic. The 28-year-old University of Oregon alumna lives minutes away from the course and holds membership, often playing with her husband when she’s not traveling on the Tour. However, playing in an LPGA Tour event is much different than playing as a member, as Inglis noted after her 5-under round on Thursday. 

“It’s just funny, like this is a course I play literally every day, like all the time when I’m just at home. So, it’s just funny to see like the grandstands and all the people,” Inglis said. “It’s pretty soft for normal member play, you know, you can’t get the greens like crazy fast and firm (for members). I would say the greens definitely firmed up a lot since Monday, Tuesday, which is great. I love that. They’re fast and they’re rolling so pure.”

During the first round, Inglis hit 13 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, needing only 28 putts to earn her six birdies. Inglis named several factors that helped contribute to her success – being able to sleep in her own bed instead of a hotel, the large gallery of local supporters cheering her on and her husband’s rare presence at a tournament, to name a few. But mostly, she refused to allow herself to take her experience at Columbia Edgewater for granted.

“I was talking with my caddie, Josh, about it. I feel like it would be really easy for me to kind of get like lazy with target lines and smart choices because I probably play it a little differently in a tournament than I would just in a round on a Saturday playing with my husband and friend,” she said. “I just told him, let’s pick really smart, specific targets and like smart shots. Just like stick to that game plan.”

This is Inglis’ 13th start on the LPGA Tour this season. She has made four cuts of 12 and earned her best finish of the year last week with a tie for 14th at the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G. For Inglis, the 2022 season hasn’t been the one she hoped, having started the year with a lower ranking on the priority list. But she has focused on taking advantage of every opportunity she has to play, which is certainly what she did on day one in Portland.  

“It’s always hard when you have conditional status starting the year. I didn’t get into anything until Hawaii in April, so you kind of feel like you’re already behind the eight ball,” she said. “I’ve been trying to take the opportunities as they come and play my best… Feel like my game is in a good place and I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully ride the momentum.”

AYAKO UEHARA BACK IN HER PORTLAND GROOVE

Playing in just her third event of 2022, Japan’s Ayako Uehara didn’t look like she was fresh off an extended absence on Thursday at the AmazingCre Portland Classic. Her 7-under 65 – her lowest round since the first day of the 2019 ShopRite LPGA Classic – gave her a one-stroke lead after 18 holes in Columbia Edgewater Country Club. It’s her first 18-hole lead since the 2016 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

“I think I’m very excited about it and then glad to be out here,” said Uehara, whose career-best finish is solo third here in Portland in 2018. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow again.”

Uehara made her season debut two weeks ago at the Dana Open presented by Marathon, also the site of her last LPGA Tour event in 2021. The three-time JLPGA Tour winner struggled with a lung condition that caused breathing difficulties and took a medical leave from the LPGA Tour to receive medical treatment in her home country. Now fully in the clear, Uehara is simply looking to make the most of these last few weeks before the Tour heads to Asia in October.

“I will do just my game and then focus one at time,” she said. “Yeah, I think that’s it.”

NELLY KORDA DIDN’T LOSE IT AT AMAZINGCRE PORTLAND CLASSIC

As clichés go, the one Nelly Korda threw out on Thursday has to be among the oldest in the game. “It’s just the first day,” Korda said after a colorful 5-under par 67 in the first round of the AmazingCre Portland Classic. “Can’t win it, but you can definitely lose it. So I just tried to stay pretty confident in what I was working on with my coach, Jamie Mulligan, the past week.”

Korda had some trouble with her driver. Even though she hit 11 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, the misses were big enough to cause some problems. She had two bogeys, a double bogey, an eagle and seven birdies, and had one of the best descriptions ever for the Ponderosa Pines that wall both sides of the fairways at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

“It’s so tree lined here,” Korda said. “It’s such a beautiful golf course. So many big, tall trees. They’re very thick and they’re very high. But they also start very thick, like they’re very low.”

Read more at https://www.lpga.com/news/2022/nelly-korda-didnt-lose-it-at-amazingcre-portland-classic

PLAYER NOTES

Rolex Rankings No. 415 Ayako Uehara (65)

  • She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens with 23 putts
  • This is her lowest 18-hole score since a 65 in the first round of the 2019 ShopRite LPGA Classic
  • This is Uehara’s third event of the 2022 LPGA Tour season after sitting out on medical leave due to a lung condition; she missed the cut at the Dana Open presented by Marathon and tied for 42nd at the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G
  • This is Uehara’s 10th season on the LPGA Tour; her best career finish is solo third at the 2018 AmazingCre Portland Classic
  • This is her eighth appearance in the AmazingCre Portland Classic
  • Uehara is a three-time JLPGA Tour winner

Rolex Rankings No. 17 Hannah Green (66)

  • She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens with 29 putts
  • This is Green’s 18th event of the 2022 LPGA Tour season; she finished second at the DIO Implant LA Open and has five other top-10 finishes
  • This is Green’s fifth season on the LPGA Tour; she has wins at the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the 2019 AmazingCre Portland Classic, and has 16 other top-10 finishes
  • This is her fifth appearance in the AmazingCre Portland Classic; she won the 2019 tournament
  • Represented Australia at the 2020 Olympics, finishing T5
  • Finished second on the 2017 Epson Tour money list to first earn LPGA Tour status
  • Three-time Epson Tour winner
  • Received the 2019 Greg Norman Medal, which is given annually to the best male or female professional Australian golfer
  • 2017 Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year on the Epson Tour
  • Won the 2021 Aon Risk Reward Challenge

SOCIAL MEDIA – #DriveOn

Tournament: @PortlandClassic (Twitter) @amazingcreportlandclassic (Instagram), #BeAmazing

LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)

TV & STREAMING TIMES (all times Eastern on Golf Channel, golfchannel.com and the NBC Sports App)

Friday, Sept. 16 – 3-6 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 17 – 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 18 – 3-6 p.m.

COURTESY LPGA TOUR COMMUNICATIONS

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