Winco Portland Open returns
You won't hear that too often this week, because these guys are good.
Professional golf returns to Washington County this week for the sixth installment of the Korn Ferry Tour's Winco Portland Open Aug. 8-11 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course in North Plains.
Formerly the Web.com Tour, the tour and Portland Open tournament boasts some of the game's best in the tour's regular season finale, which at its conclusion will grant the season's top 25 players PGA Tour cards for the upcoming 2019-20 season.
No longer are the game's next crop of superstars afforded an opportunity to go straight to the elite level of the game of golf by way of the PGA Tour Q-School. They're now forced to play their way to the PGA Tour via the Korn Ferry Tour, arguably the world's second most competitive circuit.
Just ask University of Oregon head golf coach Casey Martin, who played both on the PGA Tour and what's now the Korn Ferry Tour prior to his coaching stint in Eugene.
"The game is changing," Martin said during the tournament's media day last month. "It is becoming more athletic and these young guys are made for it. Week to week, I'm not sure the best players on the PGA Tour would make the cut at the Portland Open. These guys are fearless, and they can putt like crazy."
Since its inaugural event five years ago, there have been 54 PGA Tour wins by players who garnered their PGA Tour cards in Portland, the most recent being Nate Lashley, who won the Rocket Mortgage Classic by six strokes this past July.In all, players who have received their cards at the WinCo Foods Portland Open include PGA Championship winner and 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year winner Justin Thomas, 2017 Players Champion Si Woo Kim, 2017 Tour Championship winner and Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, along with PGA Tour winner and University of Oregon alum Aaron Wise.Players compete throughout the season on the Korn Ferry Tour for points position, with the top 25 ranked players receiving their PGA Tour card on the 18th green at Pumpkin Ridge's Witch Hollow course.
This year's field will be as strong as ever, including points leader Xinjun Zhang, 32, of China, who holds the top spot and has been No. 1 after 11 of the past 15 events. He has won twice and earned $395,226 on the tour this year. Also, recent Stanford University alum Maverick McNealy, who finished third in last week's Ellie Mae Classic and sits 20th on the Korn Ferry Tour's regular season point standings. McNealy also won Pac-12 Player of the Year honors in 2016 and was the world's top ranked Amateur in 2017 before turning pro.
Other top players include University of Alabama alum Robby Shelton (ranked No. 2 on the Korn Ferry Tour) who notched two wins so far this season and University of Texas alum Scottie Scheffler (No. 3 on the Korn Ferry Tour) who has one win and two runner-up finishes. Not to be forgotten is Eugene native and Jesuit High School alum Scott Harrington, who placed tied for 11th at last week's event and sits 38th in the point standings, needing likely a top 3 finish this week to secure his PGA Tour card.
Last year, the event was selected by the PGA Tour and formerly Web.com Tour as the Web.com Tour Tournament of the Year and broke its own record for the second consecutive year, raising nearly $1.5 million for charity.
"The WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz has been one of the Web.com Tour's premier events over the last five years and we're honored to name it as our 2018 Tournament of the Year, as voted by our players and staff," former Web.com Tour President and current PGA Tour executive Dan Glod said. "Jeff Sanders and his team have created an incredible experience for Pro-Am participants and fans while forming a meaningful charitable footprint in the greater Portland community."
This year's event will include the new BMW Fan Deck, which along with The Grove located near the 12th hole, will offer spectators a bevy of food and beverage options, including but not limited to a beer and wine experience from more than 25 of the best breweries and wineries in the Pacific Northwest.
Saturday, Family Day, will offer a number of events for children, including gift packages and lunch vouchers for the first 250 kids in attendance. And Sunday will feature a complimentary breakfast available at the Witch Hollow clubhouse for all ticket holders from 9 a.m. to noon.
Tickets are $15 for a day or $25 for a weekly pass, kids age 17 and under are admitted at no cost, parking is free and all proceeds from ticket sales go directly to charity.
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