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Former Spartan star in Giant Eagle field



Published: Sun, July 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



By PETE MOLLICA

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

VIENNA -- Kelly Cap was an all-state golfer at Boardman High School where she led her team to back-to-back state championships.

She was a four-time All-American at Methodist College in Fayetteville, N.C., where she led her team to four straight Division III national championships.

But all those accomplishments still haven't prepared the 28-year-old for what she has been facing on her first season on the LPGA Tour.

Cap, who graduated from Boardman in 1991, qualified last fall for the LPGA Tour and currently holds non-exempt status. It was her fourth try at the qualifying school.

Non-exempt status means that the only when the tournament field is not full does Cap get an automatic entry into the event. She still has the opportunity to qualify at the events.

Hasn't made cut: This week's Giant Eagle LPGA Classic will mark the ninth tournament she has played in this year and she is still looking to make her first cut of the season. Her current money total is zero, but it hasn't cut down her enthusiasm of playing on the tour.

"It has been a real learning experience," said Cap. "Everyone comes out here the first year scared to death. Being non-exempt is not quite like playing full-time on the tour.

Cap didn't get into the first 12 tournaments on the schedule and when she finally did get into the Electrolux USA Championship in Nashville, Tenn., is was one of those last minute deals when somebody dropped out the morning of the opening round.

"When I found out I was so excited and then I went to the tee and saw my playing partners and almost fell over," Cap said. "I was playing with Karrie Webb and Helen Alfredsson."

"I got a chance to see how they play and handle themselves on the course," she added. "I wanted to learn everything about them, I was like a sponge out there, soaking everything in."

Played well early: Cap said that she started out the year playing very well, but couldn't get into a tournament. She played several tournaments on the Futures Tour during that time.

"I was playing well early in the year and couldn't get in a tournament, then when I started having problems with my game, I got in to the Nashville tournament," she added.

After the Nashville event Cap played two more straight weeks, at The Champions Classic in Dayton and the LPGA Corning Classic in Corning, N.Y. She failed to make the cut in all three.

She didn't qualify for the U.S. Women's open the next week, but made the field for the Wegman's Rochester International, where she had her best finish, missing the cut by one shot.

"That was disappointing, because I played pretty well both rounds," She added. "But my skin is getting a lot tougher out her this year."

After missing two more weeks, Cap has played in the last four LPGA events, going into this past week's Big Apple Classic in Stanford, CT., but still hasn't made a cut.

Probably the toughest part of tournament life for Cap is waiting to find out if she will get into a tournament or not.

"It's really crazy out here, you never know," she added. "At Nashville she was the 13th alternate at the beginning of the week, but still made the field.

Made Toledo field: Three weeks ago at Toledo she was still the fourth alternate on the day before the tournament started and still managed to get into the field.

"It was exciting to get in at Toledo since that tournament was the first LPGA event that I ever attended back when I was about 13-years old," she added.

Cap doesn't expect to have to wait around this week when the tournament takes place at Squaw Creek Country Club. She is listed in the field lineup going into the week, since a lot of the top players are taking the week off to get ready for the season's final major tournament next week at the Weetabix Women's British Open in Chiswick, London, England.

This will be the first time Cap has played in the Giant Eagle Classic, although she did apply for a sponsors exemption three years ago, but never got one.

Likes Squaw Creek: "I really love Squaw Creek Country Club and I've played it several times," Cap said. "In fact about a month ago I was home and went out there to play the course. The people out there were just so nice to me."

"I forgot just how nice that course was," she continued. "It's a great facility and the course was in beautiful shape. It will definitely rank as one of the better conditioned coursed that we've played this year on tour."

Cap doesn't have any sponsors to help her out on tour.

"My cousin helped me out at first and of course my parents have helped out a lot," she said. "I've been getting a lot of private housing out here this year."

She is excited about playing in her home town this week..

"It is always great when your family can come out to see you play and I expect a pretty big turnout this week," she said. "My mom and day came down to see me play in Dayton and in Toledo, while my mom and my aunt made the trip up to Corning, N.Y.

Cap said that her goals for the year have been very simple.

"I just want to keep learning and try to play as well as I can every opportunity I get. The main thing is to just keep working hard.




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