Jul 22, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Five shots down at one point in Sunday’s final round of the Alliance Bank Futures Golf Classic, Violeta Retamoza was all but dismissed from the picture.
Then again, after a first-round 75 on the Links at Erie Village on her 24th birthday, Retamoza was just glad to be anywhere near the picture.
And when it counted the most, when others were busy throwing the tournament away, Retamoza played her best.
Four birdies on the last 10 holes, including 16 and 18, led to a 67 and a total of five-under-par 208, finishing her one shot clear of defending champion Ha-Na Chae.
The win was worth $11,200, and pulled Retamoza from ninth to sixth on the Futures money list with $34,003, just behind Mollie Fankhauser ($34,345) for the fifth and final qualifying spot on the LPGA Tour to be handed out at season’s end.
Perhaps it was symbolic that Retamoza survived a fierce battle for the championship, since “fierce” was a good word to describe the conditions for Friday’s opening round.
Heavy rains inundated Erie Village the night before, and more precipitation arrived on Friday, forming deep puddles in some bunkers. This, combined with a gusty wind that topped 30 miles per hour, sent scores higher.
In fact, no one in the field broke 70. Seven players — Audra Burks, Yeon Jo Lee, Eungung Yi, Brandi Jackson, Onnarin Sattayabanphot, Cortney Reno and Allison Kuczka — finished on that number to share the lead. Retamoza shot 75.
The rough conditions sent the local contingent out of contention. Julie Peluso (Skaneateles), who tied for third in 2006, never recovered from her opening 76 and, with 153, missed the cut.
Lori Atsdedes (Ithaca), a winner earlier this year in Florida, tied for 47th. Section III champion Jillian Fraccola (Fayetteville-Manlius) shot a 92 on Friday, hurt by a 14 on the par-five 7th hole.
All the bad weather left on Saturday, and the sunshine brought back the low scores. Reno, a free-spirited 27-year old from Michigan, broke out of the lead pack with a 68 and, with a four-under total of 138, led Chae and Ji Min Jeong by two shots.
Jeong, along with Kelly Cavanaugh, roared from the middle of the pack with 65s, the low rounds of the tournament. Right behind them, Retamoza put together a 66 to join four other players (Jackson, Sattayabanphot, Kuczka and Cavanaugh) at 141, three shots off Reno’s pace.
Those last 18 holes proved to be wild, as three different players had chances to take charge, only to give it right back.
Reno quickly built on her lead with birdies at 1 and 6, with four pars in between. When she teed off on the par-five 7th, Reno had a three-shot cushion — but let it vanish when her drive went out of bounds, leading to a double bogey as Chae caught her with a birdie.
A bogey at 8 dropped Reno out of the lead for good, but now Chae was passed, too, as Jackson used birdies on four of the first 11 holes to zoom to five under par, one ahead of Chae.
Now it was Jackson’s turn to be generous, as a three-putt bogey at 12 sent her back to four under. Chae strung together eight consecutive pars and maintained her tie with Jackson until the homestretch.
While all this was going on, Retamoza was quietly making up ground.
After opening with eight straight pars of her own, Retamoza found the spark at the par-three 9th, where she birdied. Another birdie followed on 12, putting her at three under, just one off the lead still clung to by Jackson and Chae.
It all turned in a matter of minutes. Retamoza drained another birdie putt on the short par-four 16th, moving her to four under. Up ahead, at the 17th, Jackson again three-putted, a bogey that would ultimately drop her to third place, where she finished at 210.
Retamoza would par 17. Behind her, Chae made her big mistake, a bogey on 16 that put her back at three under. For the first time all week, Retamoza held the lead alone.
Perhaps sensing this, Retamoza hit her drive at 18 way right, into the adjacent 1st fairway. However, she had a perfect lie, and hit a solid approach to 15 feet. When the down putt dropped, Retamoza pumped her fist in triumph.
Chae, having parred 17, needed to hole out from the fairway on 18 to force a playoff. Though she couldn’t pull it off, her birdie meant solo second place at 209 and $8,000, plus a move from 10th to seventh on the money list.
Behind Retamoza, Chae and Jackson, four players — Reno, Cavanaugh, Kuczka and Kim Welch — shared fourth place at 211. Fankhauser joined Sofie Andersson and Audra Burks in eighth place at 212.