ALBANY, N.Y., Sept. 5, 2010 - It was a season-ending championship with a lot of twists and turns, howling wind, lead changes and solid contenders, but when it was all over, Cindy LaCrosse of Tampa, Fla., emerged at the top of it all.
The Duramed FUTURES Tour's 2010 Player of the Year held off Jennifer Song, the Tour's 2010 Rookie of the Year, to win the $120,000 Price Chopper Tour Championship after one extra hole. LaCrosse carded rounds of 69-70-69 for a 5-under finish of 208, and then took par in the playoff on the 18th hole at Capital Hills at Albany for her third season victory.
"With the windy conditions we had this week, I kind of figured nobody would go really low, and I saw that I was one shot back after 15 holes," said LaCrosse, who earned $16,800 for today's win and broke the Tour's previous single-season earnings record this year with $94,578.
So LaCrosse did what she has done all season. She rolled in a birdie putt from four feet on the 16th hole. The Floridian gave it back when she three-putted from 25 feet on the 17th hole, but then she stepped to the par-three 18th tee and laced a 6-iron to one foot on the final hole to put pressure on Song, who was playing one group behind.
Once LaCrosse birdied the 18th, Song was the only player in position to catch the leader. The former All-American from the University of Southern California showed poise when she chipped in for birdie from 60 feet on the 17th hole, and then calmly rolled in a testy birdie putt from eight feet on the last green to draw even with LaCrosse at 5-under 208, posting rounds of 70-69-69.
Feeling wind kick up on the extra playoff hole, LaCrosse added a club and stroked a "choke 5-iron" to 10 feet. Her birdie putt rolled just short and she tapped in for par.
Song's tee shot in the playoff flew to the right greenside rough, some 30 feet from the hole and her chip from a side-hill lie rolled 10 feet short of the flagstick. Her putt for par burned the left edge of the cup and she tapped in for bogey and second place.
"Cindy played great," said Song, of Ann Arbor, Mich., who won two tournaments and posted six top-10 finishes in nine starts this year during her rookie professional season. "She's a champion."
Early in today's final round of the Tour's culminating tournament, several players stepped up to challenge for the tournament title, but Dewi Claire Schreefel of Diepenveen, Netherlands (71) gave it the best shot. The Dutch player moved into a share of the lead with LaCrosse with consecutive birdies on the fifth and sixth holes. Playing in front of LaCrosse, the former NCAA individual golf champion from the University of Southern California grabbed a one-shot lead over LaCrosse with another birdie on the ninth hole.
But Schreefel ran into trouble on her closing holes with a bogey at No. 16, a double-bogey on the 17th and a scrambling par on the final hole to lose three shots on her last three holes. She dropped into a tie for seventh at 2-under 211, alongside Kelly Froelich (69) of Raizeux, France and rookie Jennifer Johnson of Carlsbad, Calif., who carded the day's low round of 5-under 66.
Playing in the same pairing with Schreefel, Ryann O'Toole (69) of San Clemente, Calif., birdied the 18th hole to move into a tie for third with former UCLA teammate Hannah Jun (67) of San Diego. The pair finished at 4-under 209.
Angela Oh (68) of Maple Shade, N.J., and rookie Jenny Shin (72) of Torrance, Calif., tied for fifth at 3-under 210.
But the 2010 season and the season-ending finale in upstate New York belonged to LaCrosse.
"It was a fun way to end the season and it feels like it went by fast," said LaCrosse, who recorded 11 top-10 finishes in 15 tournaments this year. "I think my ball striking made a difference this year and I'm happy I finished the year still on top."
And while LaCrosse and Song both said goodbye to the Duramed FUTURES Tour, each earning full membership on the 2011 LPGA Tour, today's season finale was a glimpse of the future of which the two young pros will likely share a stage.
A total of 14 players posted rounds under par at the Price Chopper Tour Championship presented by SEFCU, with 16 players carding rounds of even-par 213 or better on the hilly 6,124-yard, par-71 course.
The 2010 season culminated following today's final round with the top 10 money winners earning LPGA Tour membership for 2011.
For scores and more information, visit duramedfuturestour.com.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS