GIANT EAGLE LPGA CLASSIC Casi's long drives not enough
The recent East Palestine High graduate shot 80 in the qualifying tournament.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- Alexandra Casi has been through a lot of tough competition, playing on the boys golf team and competing at the state level in track and field.
None of that could prepare her for her first experience in a LPGA qualifying tournament, held Monday at Squaw Creek Country Club.
Casi found out that she can drive the ball with anyone on tour, but it takes more than hitting it long to play the tough conditions of a professional tournament.
The 17-year-old Casi, who graduated from East Palestine High in June, shot 8-over-par 80 in her first competition against professionals.
Words of wisdom
In a twosome with Pamela Wright of Aboyne, Scotland, a veteran of 13 seasons on the LPGA Tour, Casi drove the ball 40 to 50 yards past Wright on almost every hole.
But, as the old saying goes, "It's not how you drive, but how you arrive," and Casi always didn't arrive in the right places.
Before the tournament Casi said she was both nervous and excited to be in the event, but she never lost her composure and was still plugging away at the end.
She began her round with a 280-yard drive on the first hole and made a par, but an errant tee shot on the second hole, a 526-yard par-5, would have bothered a lot of players, but Casi sent her next shot right in the middle of the fairway, reached the green in three, but three-putted for a bogey.
The third and fourth holes were the killers for the young standout as she made back-to-back double bogeys and jumped to 5-over.
She hit her tee shot on No. 3 into the trees on the left, mishit her second shot and sent her third shot over the green onto the fringe. Coming down a steep incline, her fourth shot rolled all the way off the front of the green where she chipped close and made the putt for a six.
She hit her tee shot on the par-3 fourth hole into a greenside trap and her second shot went all the way across the green. She chipped back to 8 feet, but missed the putt.
Casi came back on the fifth hole, a 479-yard par-5, and reached the green in two, where she two putted for birdie. She then made three straight pars, although on the par-5 No. 8 she again reached the green in two, but three putted. She finished with a bogey on the par-3 No. 9 and shot 42 over the front nine.
Casi birdied the next two holes to get back to 3-over. On the par-4 10th she drained a 25-foot birdie putt and on the par-4 11th she hit a pitching wedge on her second shot to within a foot of the hole.
From tee to trees
After making par-3 on 12, Casi had her driver slip in her hand on her tee shot on the 13th hole and hit it way right into the trees. She chipped out nicely and hit her third shot to within 50 yards of the par-5 hole. Her fourth shot found the front bunker, where she chipped out nicely and made the putt for bogey.
After hitting her tee shot into the fairway trap on the 14th hole, Casi hit a pitching wedge from the sand 120 yards onto the green, but three putted for another bogey. She then made par on the par-3 15th hole, but finished the round with three more bogeys for a 5-over back nine of 38.
Casi left the course immediately after the round and didn't offer a comment.
She will compete today in the Schwebel's Amateur Long Drive Contest at 2 p.m. at the Squaw Creek Driving Range. She finished second in the amateur qualifying with a drive of 267 yards.