Working toward the Tour

East Palestine native Alex Casi goes for a LPGA card

By John Bassetti

Tony DeToro didn’t know Alexandra Casi five years ago, but, as one of his employees, he was impressed by her work ethic.

Five years ago, DeToro said he barely knew a 9-iron from a putter, but, once he discovered that the former East Palestine High golfer entertained plans of turning pro, he was on board as a supporter, ready to dish out the green.

Now that Casi, 27, has two wins under her belt on the Sun Coast Tour for women, DeToro knows that the budding female golfer is more than a diamond-in-the-rough.

“We want to support someone we think can be successful and deserves a chance,” said, DeToro, who, along with business partner Phil Accordino, put his money on Casi, who is the best thing to come along in golf from East Palestine since Jerry McGee.

Now based in Florida, Casi most recently won a Sun Coast Tour event on the LPGA International Legends Course in Daytona Beach.

Her first pro win was in February in another Sun Coast mini-tour event, the Reunion Nicklaus Design in Reunion, Fla., which resulted in a $2,100 payday. She earned $2,000 in Daytona.

Casi, a two-time state long jump champion in high school, turned pro in the fall of 2010 after Q-school for the LPGA Futures Tour.

“I didn’t play well enough to be fully exempt [on the Futures Tour], but once I got in, I made four of five cuts and moved inside the top 90 on the money list,” Casi said.

“Before that, I was just doing the best I could in each tournament,” Casi said. “Thankfully, I did that [made the cuts] because there are a lot of girls who are pretty good, but didn’t make the top 90. So I was home free and not worried about getting into another tournament the rest of the year.”

Previously, Casi’s best finish was in July when she finished seventh in a Futures tournament in Syracuse, N.Y.

In the Reunion tournament, Casi came from five shots back to win with rounds of 74-74-69 in windy conditions.

In Daytona, Casi overcame 40 mph winds over three days to shoot 74-72-69.

She came from two shots back.

Casi, the Sun Coast Tour’s only multiple winner so far in 2012, will remain in Florida until mid-May, playing on the Symetra Tour, which started March 23-25 in Winter Haven, followed by an event in Sarasota in April. She’ll then play in Sun Coast events until the Symetra Tour jumps to Indiana in June.

Upon receiving new sponsorship, the LPGA Futures Tour became known as the Symetra Tour, based in Washington state.

The second-year pro said it’s harder to make a check on the Sun Coast Tour than Symetra because of the quality of the field.

In the Reunion, Casi beat out LPGA player Maria Hjorth, the 22nd-ranked player in the world.

“She’s won on the LPGA Tour multiple times,” said Casi, who noted that many LPGA players enter Sun Coast events at this time of year to stay sharp.

On the road to the LPGA Tour, Casi’s goal is to get into the Symetra Tour’s top 10 at the end of the year in September.

“I’ll be on the road all summer,” she said of the path to getting her LPGA card.

“I couldn’t have done this without them,” Casi said of DeToro and Accordino, who are partners in the Roll Your Own tobacco equipment business. “They’ve given me this opportunity.”

Casi worked for DeToro when he owned the Great Harvest Bread Co.

“It’s one of the best little jobs I’ve had,” Casi said. “He’s been like a second dad to me.”

Of the second-year pro, DeToro said: “I think she has tremendous ability. My friend and I carried her for as long as we could, but she’ll need more help,” he said. “It takes a lot of money. That’s why she’s looking for other sponsors.”

Casi said her goal is to be on the LPGA Tour in 2013.

“I’m getting excited to get out and see what I can do and make a little more,” she said. “Also, I’ll be doing Monday qualifiers for LPGA events. It would be nice if I played well in one of those and got to play in an event.”

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