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LPGA books Portland again, but tourney still needs sponsor

by: COURTESY OF JOHN LARIVIERE - Tom Maletis (left) of Tournament Golf Foundation helps present 2013 LPGA Safeway Classic winner Suzann Pettersen with the trophy after she won the event last year at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.Portland is on the LPGA schedule for 2014, but tournament officials still must nail down a sponsor.

On paper, the event is being listed as the Portland Classic, and it is booked for Aug. 28-31 at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

Last year, as the Safeway Classic, the event was played for the 42nd consecutive year under a one-year sponsorship deal.

"We're still in discussions with Safeway and other sponsor candidates," says Tom Maletis, president of Tournament Golf Foundation, which runs the tourney. "It could be a big local company, and we've talked to national and international companies, because the tour has really turned international."

Maletis says "we're probably not going to have anything finalized for four to eight weeks."

He adds: "I'm confident in our efforts moving forward, but until we get the actual sponsor signed … everything else is in place with the LPGA and with Columbia Edgewater.

"We've been in this situation since 2010 with these one-year extensions, and we've always been able to come through."

The Portland tournament would be 72 holes for the second year in a row, with a Wednesday pro-am.

Same drill as last year and same spot on the LPGA calendar.

The Portland 2014 event would take place one week after the new Canadian Pacific Women's Open in London, Ontario, and two weeks prior to the Evian Championship, the LPGA's fifth major, in France.

Maletis says the timing of the 2014 tourney would work fine again.

"I was very pleased with our field last year, and I think we'd have another outstanding field again this year," he says. "The week off after our event really helps the players have enough time to get over to France."

If the tournament returns to Portland in 2015, however, it is likely to shift back to mid-August.

"We'd like to get away from a college football weekend," Maletis says, "but because of certain commitments, we'll stay in the same slot in 2014."

The 2014 college football season in Oregon opens Aug. 30 with Oregon tentatively at home against South Dakota, and with Oregon State scheduled to play host to Portland State.

The LPGA's 2014 calendar includes 32 events, counting Portland. That's four more than last year.

Prize money is up also, from $48.8 million in 2013 to $56.3 million.

Three of the new events will be in the United States -- in Daly City, Calif., Grand Rapids, Mich., and Prattville, Ala.

Nine of the circuit's 2014 events will be in Asia, and two will be in Europe.

The season kicks off with the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic Jan. 23-26.