Strong start for defending champ
Nothing has been straightforward for the 49th edition of the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic.
After being shortened by a day because of poor air quality, lightning forced a 90-minute delay during Friday's first round at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
But Hannah Green played as if she hadn't left the course since surging to victory here last summer.
The Australian had seven birdies in her opening round and finished Friday tied for the lead with American Cydney Clanton. Each shot 6-under-par 66 for a one-stroke lead over five golfers.
A handful of golfers were unable to complete the first round because of darkness. One of those is American Yealimi Noh, who is at 5-under through 17 holes.
Those who need to finish the first round will do so with the first groups off the tee for Saturday's second round.
The tournament is being played without fans because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Green had the lead to herself at 7-under until she bogeyed the 18th hole, which was the toughest scoring hole on the day.
Despite missing a par putt on 18, Green pointed to her putter as the key to her strong Friday round.
"I missed quite a lot of greens compared to my score, so the only putt I really missed was the one on the last (hole), so to say that is pretty good," Green said.
Green played in the afternoon on Friday and will play in the morning on Saturday. She said the quick turnaround should help her continue to play well.
Clanton, a 31-year-old from North Carolina in her ninth year on the LPGA Tour, had five birdies in getting around the back nine in 31 strokes.
"You know, it's funny. I hit the ball really well, but I've been hitting the ball really well, and the putter was finally hot. I finally made some putts," Clanton said
Clanton hit 11 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation and needed 29 putts.
"I hit a lot of really close shots. About holed out on 12; about holed out on 13," Clanton said. "I'm talking about some pretty short putts that help with momentum, and then to make a couple long ones just really pushes it forward to allow me to go deeper."
The players one stroke back are Noh, Gaby Lopez, Amy Oldon, Caroline Mason and Mel Reid. Four golfers are two strokes back, including Mo Martin.
The California native Martin, who now lives in Florida, is playing in her first LPGA event in some 15 months because of a back injury.
""I was having some pretty bad spasms, and it's scary. Having a back injury is pretty debilitating," Martin said. "I've got two really cute little kitties at home and I couldn't pick them up at one point, so that's just really sad, and then especially when your job demands your body along with your mind and your spirit."
Martin is grateful to be playing after wildfire smoke forced Thursday's round to be canceled.
"Down to three days, and lucky to be playing," Martin said. "And the air is nice. It's back to beautiful Portland. The trees, you know, everything is getting a lot clearer, and I hope the rain helped the fires. That's an important thing, too."
A total of 56 golfers shot under par on Friday, when the rain cleared the air and made for soft greens.
Another player returning from back trouble is Caroline Inglis, a Eugene native and former Pac-12 champion for the Oregon Ducks. This is her second tournament in 2020 after missing all of 2019 recovering from back surgery.
Inglis, who now lives in Vancouver, Washington, shot 2-over 74 on Friday and is tied for 92nd.
Two-time Cambia Portland Classic champion Brooke Henderson is not playing. The Canadian who now lives in Florida withdrew early in the week, citing the poor air quality. Henderson has been playing well. She tied for second last week at the ANA Inspiration after a three-player playoff was won by Mirim Lee.
Lee shot a 2-under 70 on Friday and is tied for 23rd place.
Tour money leader Danielle Kang shot even-par 72 on Friday and is tied for 57th.
Amateur Yvonne Vinceri, a senior at Riverdale High in Portland, was at 10-over through 15 holes when play was suspended.
Saturday's round is scheduled for tape-delay television coverage on Golf Channel from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Live streaming on www.GolfChannel.com is scheduled from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
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