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 .”