Golfers gather at Pumpkin Ridge this week
The WinCo Foods Portland Open begins this Thursday, Aug. 6.
The golf tournament in North Plains is a stop on the Korn Ferry Tour, which serves as a proving ground for aspiring PGA Tour golfers. Top golfers earn their PGA Tour cards.
Usually, cards are awarded at season's end, but because of the pandemic, the top 25 finishers at the end of 2021 will earn cards.
The WinCo Open is held at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in the North Plains area, on the Witch Hollow course. It will run through Sunday, Aug. 9.
There won't be fans allowed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the tournament can be watched on television. Air times on the Golf Channel are 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Seth Reeves (11-under) edged four other golfers (10-under) to win last weekend's Korn Ferry Tour event, the Pinnacle Bank Championship, in Omaha, Nebraska.
Points and money leader Davis Riley failed to make the cut at Omaha, and then withdrew from the WinCo Foods Portland Open.
Will Zalatoris, who trails Riley in points and money, enters Pumpkin Ridge with $273,768 in earnings.
Zalatoris hails from San Francisco and now lives in Texas, but he has family in Bend and Portland. He often plays Pronghorn Resort courses in Bend.
With fans unable to attend the WinCo Foods Portland Open, Zalatoris said, "It's a bummer that they won't be able to come out and watch."
Zalatoris is two wins away from qualifying for his PGA Tour card.
Zalatoris tied for 24th at last year's Portland Open, shooting 11-under 273 with rounds of 66, 69, 69, 69.
Medford's Dylan Wu, 23, tied for 20th at Omaha. He's sixth in Korn Ferry Tour money at $160,755.
To stay high in the standings and be eligible for a PGA Tour card after next season, Wu said, "I need to be as strong as I can mentally. The goal on the Korn Ferry Tour is to get to the PGA Tour, and every shot and every point matters so much."
He added, "You're playing for a living and playing for your livelihood, so every shot does matter."
Of Witch Hollow, Yu remarked, "I love that golf course, and if you ask the guys on tour, most would tell you they'd put it in their top three courses we play. It's a course where you need all facets of your game in order to play well, and I definitely want to play well for Oregon."
Tournament organizer Jeff Sanders said the quality of play in the WinCo Foods Portland Open is going to be very high.
The top 144 to 156 players in the world compete on the PGA Tour each week. The next 144 to 156 play the Korn Ferry Tour.
"They're the second layer, and they play PGA Tour golf," Sanders said. "When we started, I had to convince people that this is the PGA Tour. These guys come in here ready to win, not just on the Korn Ferry Tour but also on the PGA Tour."
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