LaCrosse leads Alliance Bank Classic by one stroke over Lewis

LaCrosse leads Alliance Bank Classic by one stroke over Lewis

It had become, for the two leaders of the Alliance Bank Classic, something of a routine afternoon. So routine, in fact, that Cindy LaCrosse and Amelia Lewis wondered if anyone would inject some adrenaline into a round that tested their sense of adventure.
“Nobody was doing anything crazy the whole day,” LaCrosse said. “Up until 12 or 13, nobody really did anything at all.”

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“I was telling my brother, my caddie, that it was really boring,” Lewis said. “Ten through 16 for me, I was so bored. Then 17 and 18 we really picked it up.”

Both players made birdies on the two finishing holes Saturday to sit 1-2 on the leaderboard after two rounds at Drumlins Country Club. LaCrosse, the Tampa native, shot the day’s best score at 5-under 66 to improve to 9-under 133 for the tournament. Lewis shot 67 Saturday and is one shot back at 8-under 134.

Jane Rah is three back at 136, followed by Jessica Shepley and Christine Song at 139.

Friday’s leader, Delores White, suffered a quadruple bogey 9 on the par-5 13th hole after hitting her second shot into a trove of trees and subsequently missing two short putts. She shot 75 and slipped to eighth on the leaderboard.

Local amateurs Jillian Fraccola (18-over) and Mary Fletcher (29-over) missed the 36-hole cut.

Futures Tour officials, wary of potentially wet weather interrupting play on Sunday, elected to send the final day’s groups off both tees. The leaders are scheduled to tee off at 9:50 a.m.

LaCrosse and Lewis will see a familiar face on that tee box.

Lewis wedged three birdies around a single bogey on the front nine Saturday and then endured nine straight pars. LaCrosse, too, made nine straight pars, until the pivotal 13th, which proved lucky for LaCrosse and unfortunate for White.

At that point, everyone in the final group was 6-under. White’s trouble jostled the group. LaCrosse then rolled in an 8-footer for birdie to give her a one-shot lead over Lewis, who missed a 6-footer that could have kept pace.

At that point, the tournament assumed the feel of a match play event. With nobody in the forward groups making a move, it was up to LaCrosse and Lewis to supply the drama.

On the par-4 17, Lewis obliged. She lofted her approach shot about 2 feet from the pin.

“I stuck it close on 17 and I was like ‘OK!’ But then Cindy made her putt and I was like, ‘Game’s on,’” Lewis said.

That putt, from about 17 feet, broke slightly left and fell into the cup. LaCrosse allowed herself a little fist pump and Lewis’ putt suddenly looked longer.

“Cindy had just made her birdie putt,” Lewis said. “And that put a little more pressure on it.”

Both players drove the ball perfectly on No. 18 and had putts inside 8 feet for birdie. Suddenly, a ‘boring’ round turned brilliant. By virtue of those two birdies on the last two holes, LaCrosse and Lewis turned in the best rounds of the day.

“I was really patient through the middle of the round,” LaCrosse said. “Birdying the last two holes is always nice.”Rah, who made a “huge par save” on 18 to stay three shots behind LaCrosse, said she struggled all day with the speed of the greens. Watching seemingly every putt snake past the hole and having “such big comebackers every single time” drained Rah, who sits 10th on the Futures Tour money list.
LaCrosse was comforted by the presence of her parents, who journeyed to Syracuse from Tampa to see her play for the first time since early April. Her dad, Doug, carried her bag and helped read the Drumlins greens. Her mom, Pam, walked the golf course with the pair.  Lewis’ brother, Chris, carries her bag. After Saturday’s round, Lewis predicted the match play aura of the final few holes would spill into Sunday’s play.“It’s just kind of a one-day tournament,” LaCrosse said. “We’ll just see what’s going to happen.”Written By Donna DitotaDonna Ditota can be reached at 470-2208 or dditota@syracuse.com