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New sponsor, higher stakes as Futures returns to Erie Village

As they have done for a decade, top female professional golfers are coming to the Links at Erie Village, looking for their tickets to the LPGA Tour.

But while the venue and Futures Tour remains the same, the tournament has a new name -- the Alliance Bank Futures Classic -- and the possibility of a massive payoff in Sunday's final round.

Following a Wednesday youth clinic Thursday's Kinney Drugs Pro-Am, nearly 150 women will begin teeing off Friday morning, with a cut to the low 70 and ties for Sunday.

Since last year, the purse has been increased by $5,000, to $70,000, with $9,800 going to the winner, and those who make it to the final round have a lot more at stake when they reach the par-3 9th hole.

There, if any of the players manages to pull off a hole-in-one, they will win $100,000, split four ways - $25,000 to the player, and $25,000 each to three local charities.

This 11th edition of the Alliance Bank Futures Classic will feature players from 27 different countries, plus some local flavor.

Skaneateles native Julie Turner-Peluso is back for another try at this event, as is Ithaca native Lori Atsedes. Each year, the Section III girls golf champion earns an automatic exemption to this event, the honor this year going to Oswego's Samantha Shuffenecker.

Kim Brozer is back to defend her title. A year ago, the Alberta native blazed to a winning total of 202, 11 under par, to win by two shots. It was the second-lowest winning score in tournament history, behind Jimin Kang's 201 total in 2002.

So far in 2006, Brozer has played just four events, but has earned $6,188 in that time, and a successful defense at Erie Village could propel her near the top 10. At season's end, the top 10 money winners on the Futures tour will earn their LPGA Tour cards.

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