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Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola Tournament Preview

Posted by on Aug 15th, 2011 and filed under Golf. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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Defending champion Ai Miyazato highlights a star-studded field at this year’s Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola which tees off on Friday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore. The event is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and with 29 of the top 30 players on the 2011 LPGA Official Money List in the field, it should be yet another strong field for the event that’s now been a staple on the LPGA Tour for four decades.

Another name to watch in the field is Rolex Rankings No. 1 and five-time major champion Yani Tseng. The 22-year-old phenom is coming off her second major victory of the season at the RICOH Women’s British Open, which made her the youngest golfer in history – male or female– to capture five major titles. Tseng will be joined in the field by the rest of the Top 10 players in the Rolex Rankings including No. 2 and 2008 Safeway Classic champion Cristie Kerr, No. 3 Suzann Pettersen, No. 4 Jiyai Shin and No. 5 Na Yeon Choi.

Last year, Miyazato added to a very successful 2010 season by capturing her fifth victory of the year at the Safeway Classic. She held off Kerr and Choi with an even-par 72 in the final round to take a two-stroke victory. Miyazato is coming into this year’s event playing some of her best golf of the season. She earned her first victory of 2011 at the Evian Masters last month, becoming the fourth player to have won multiple titles at the event, and finished tied for sixth at the U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.

There are three sponsor’s exemptions at this year’s tournament. They include 16-year-old Lexi Thompson who recently captured medalist honors at the first stage of LPGA Qualifying School and LPGA Tour veteran Kris Tschetter. The final exemption has gone to incoming high school senior Ashlee Pickerell of Salem, Ore. who earned her spot in the tournament by winning the Safeway Classic Amateur Open on July 25th. Pickerell has already made an oral commitment to play collegiate golf at the University of the Tennesse.

This week will also be the final chance for American-born players to earn a spot on the U.S. Solheim Cup team. Katie Futcher, Kristy McPherson and Vicky Hurt still try to make a last-ditch effort to unseat Christina Kim from the No. 10 spot in the U.S. Solheim Cup standings. The top-nine players in the standings are already assured of a spot on the team. After the finish of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, U.S. Captain Rosie Jones will add two captain’s picks to the 10 points qualifiers to round out the 12-player team that will take on Allison Nicholas and the Europeans, Sept. 23-25 at Killeen Castle in Ireland.

The Ghost Creek Course at Pumpkin Ridge, which is located just outside of Portland in North Plains, will be hosting the Safeway Classic for the third straight year. The 54-hole tournament will tee off on Friday with the 150-player field competing for a $1.5 million purse.

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