By John Bassetti
Alexandra Casi, figuratively, lives on a golf course.
These days, she’s living back at home in East Palestine.
That’s both good and bad.
Good that she’s spending time with her family, but bad that she may not have enough sponsorship to resume her women’s pro golfing career.
To say she’s fallen on hard times is an exaggeration, but the 28-year-old has scraped and scrimped to the point that she resorted to hawking some of her golf clubs for cash.
This isn’t Iran-Contra, but it shows an urgency to come to the aid of Casi, whose game has had its share of vicissitudes.
On the Symetra Tour — the old Futures Tour — the 2001 state high school runnerup won $3,612 in 10 events in 2012 and $9,408 in two years.
Could she be dangling on a fiscal cliff?
A highlight came Aug. 10-12, when Casi finished tied for 13th and won $2,430 in the Four Winds Invitational in South Bend, Ind.
Not only did she make the cut, but Casi cut it close to the Aug. 13 deadline of being sent down to Q-school.
“I was in danger of going back to Stage 1, so I had to finish 13th or better before the Aug. 13 cutoff. Luckily, I placed high enough to finish inside the top 120 by Aug. 13, so I didn’t have to go to Stage 1. I finished where I needed to.”
In fact, Casi’s 217 was five shots behind Four Winds champion Julia Boland, whose 212 earned her $22,500 in the tournament with the biggest purse of the year.
“That was a load off my shoulders,” said Casi, who said she felt 100 percent, mentally and physically, but didn’t have money.
“I was out of funds and I wasn’t going to get that [$2,430] check until the next tourney. So I took two weeks off. I wish I could have kept going, but I was glad to have played well enough to finish 13th and save myself from Stage 1 of Q-School.”
Then, some anonymous donors from the area gave Casi another shot.
In her next tournament, Alexandra missed the cut by 2, but, in early September, she won a Monday qualifier with a 69 at the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va. That set up her LPGA Tour debut.
“I didn’t play as well [as I did in the qualifier] when I got into it [the LPGA Tour event that week],” Casi said. “I had issues with my driver, but I can’t be too upset because I played two rounds at Kingsmill [before being cut]. That weekend was so nice — the hospitality and all — I’m looking forward to getting back there.”
Of the three remaining events, Casi missed two, including the cut in Charlotte, N.C., but was pressed to play the final event to save her status for 2013.
“I was out of money, so I opened my car trunk and decided to sell a driver and 3-wood. I went to a golf store in Charlotte,” she said. “They never give you what it’s worth, but a gentleman in the store said he’d give me $300 for those clubs. The store only offered $190. That was the only way I was going to be able to get into that next tourney [the Vidalia Championship in Georgia] where I finished in the middle of the pack and made just enough money to keep my [Symetra] card [for 2013].”
Her goal on the 2013 Symetra Tour is to finish in the top 10 so she can get her LPGA card.
Some who have contributed to Casi’s career include Tony DeToro and Phil Accordino (RYO filling stations), Ed Muransky (The Lake Club) and Bob White (East Palestine Dairy Queen).
“But I really need to play a full season and not have to stop to give myself a chance at it,” Casi said. “I’ve been really fortunate with some of the people in the area, but I’ve got to get back out there. Once you live this lifestyle — and I have a passion for it, I’m not gonna let go until I’m successful on the LPGA Tour.”
Casi’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.