The best female golfers in the world compete in Portland

Returning for its 50th year, the golf tournament takes place September 16-19 at the Oregon Golf Club in West Linn.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The world’s top professional female golfers are competing this week in the Cambia Portland Classic at the Oregon Golf Club in West Linn.

It’s expected to be a star-studded field with world-class players including Rolex World Women’s Golf Ranking No. 2 Jin Young Ko and returning Cambia Portland Classic champions Hannah Green (2019) and Marina Alex (2018).

It is the LPGA’s longest non-major tour and is now in its 50th year. This runs from September 16-19. Tickets from $10 for one day or $25 for the whole tournament and can be purchased on the Portland Classic website. KGW will recap all the excitement in a half-hour special hosted by Orlando Sanchez that airs Sunday night after Sports Sunday.

Organization of the event

Susan Etzel is the tournament’s first female director, a role she took on in February. Producing an event like this for professional athletes in a short time was a whirlwind, but she said she was even more honored to bring it to the community.

With many former golfers returning to celebrate the 50th anniversary, Etzel enjoyed seeing those who paved the way interact with young players.

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“It’s not easy. I think a lot of us take that for granted,” Etzel said. “They are professional athletes, you know it’s hard work and they work very hard at it.”

Tom Maletis is chairman and president of the Tournament Golf Foundation, the organization responsible for organizing and managing the event.

“All the years we’ve had, the tournament, on the ropes, we’ve had great champions,” Maletis said. “But the greatest satisfaction has been what we have been able to do for the city and the region outside of the ropes and that it is about charity and it has a great effect on the economic impact that it generates every year.”

Since the tournament began, it has raised $18 million for charities and other local organizations.

Volunteers and staff work hard behind the scenes to make the tournament happen. Lee Hoffman and Stan Kawamoto are the two master caddies, they have been in charge of caddies since the 80s. Both were named winners of the LPGA Volunteer Service Award for 2020.

Learn more about volunteers here

Golf pros in town

World Golf Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez is happy to be back in Portland. She speaks at certain events during the tournament and organizes clinics. She has fond memories of the golf she played here.

“I won the US Junior at Columbia Edgewater when I was 17, and that’s how I started the love affair I had with Portland,” Lopez said. “And then coming back with the LPGA event, when you’re an LPGA player and the calendar comes out, you put right away in your calendar what your favorite tournaments are and so I always knew I wanted to come to Portland – so I would always ask.

Lopez is a four-time champion of the event. In total, the tournament has been won 23 times by members of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

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Watch Rod Hill’s day at Oregon Golf Club, home of the Cambia Portland Classic

KGW meteorologist Rod Hill spent the day playing with Maggie Simons, who is among the players taking part in the tournament.

Other players include Cheyenne Woods, a professional golfer on the LPGA Tour and the niece of Tiger Woods. Matt Zaffino, Rod Hill and Kyle Iboshi of KGW played with her in the Pro-Am competition on September 15 which paired amateurs with professional golfers.

Get kids interested in golf

This week, KGW also presented The first tee, a non-profit organization that helps local children become good golfers while integrating life skills. The First Tee began as a national program in 1997, with the Greater Portland Chapter forming a few years later.

“It’s not just about coming to the golf course and learning the basics of putting and the full swing,” said Jenna Coonrod, Greater Portland Program Director of The First Tee. “We really want to empower you to be the best version of yourself here on the golf course as well as off the golf course in your everyday life.”

Watch this video to learn more about The First Tee

Michael C. Ford