WILLIAMSBURG — When golfers can't quite get it done at the most competitive level of the sport, sometimes something as simple as switching a putter can get them over the hump, but often it takes more desperate measures just to keep the dream alive.
Amelia Lewis earned her spot into this week's LPGA Kingsmill Championship on Monday in a 29-player qualifying event at the 6,384-yard River Course by shooting a three-under par 68 in extremely soggy conditions. Alexandra Casi took the remaining qualifying spot by firing a 69.
"It was so wet out there," said Lewis, 22, who played at the University of Florida. "There was no run at all (on drives). I'm a long hitter, so I think that helped me at least fly it a long way."
Lewis, who has made her way into two other LPGA tournaments this year by way of Monday qualifiers, carded six birdies and three bogeys Monday on her way to shooting the low round of the day. Her putting has come full circle in just four days with some assistance from a new club.
After shooting a 77 last Thursday in the first round of the North Texas LPGA Shootout in Irving, Texas, Lewis switched from one Odyssey putter to another. She ended up missing the cut by four shots, but only after shooting a much-improved 72 in the second round.
"The ball comes off (the new putter) a little quicker, which is good, because I was a little short on a lot of putts last week," said Lewis, who made the cut last year at Kingsmill and finished tied for 65th at 5-over.
Lewis, who turned pro in 2011, is trying to build more momentum after starting the year well.
She finished second in February behind Lydia Ko in the New Zealand Open. Lewis is also fifth on the money list ($12,090) on the Symetra Tour, which is a top feeder tour for the LPGA Tour. The top 10 players on the Symetra Tour money list will earn fully-exempt status next year on the LPGA Tour.
Casi, a 28-year-old native of East Palestine, Ohio, who also got into the Kingsmill Championship last year via the Monday qualifier, is doing everything she can just to stay between the ropes. Without the benefit of sponsorship money, Casi has to scrape just to make ends meet.
Last week, she went to Sarasota, Fla., to play in an event on the Symetra Tour. Once she got there, she realized she didn't have the $1,300 it was going to take for her to play in the tournament, cover her lodging and dining expenses and be able to get back home.
She withdrew from the tournament, but instead of heading directly home, she decided to gamble a little bit. She likes the River Course, so she figured she'd press her luck.
Casi took an $800 deposit from her apartment and rolled into Kingsmill to try to qualify for this week's tournament. Now, all she has to do is make it to the weekend to have enough money to get back home without calling dad.
"I guess it worked out for me," said Casi, who missed the cut last year at Kingsmill after shooting 13-over in the first two rounds. "I haven't played a lot this year because I never have enough money. Maybe I'll play well this week, and maybe I'll be able to pick up a sponsor. I've got the game, but it's hard when you don't have enough money to go all the places you need to go."
Casi, who has three years of experience on the Symetra Tour, said her short game paved the way to her qualifying round.
She didn't hit as many greens in regulation as she would've liked, but she was able to recover and putt well enough to put herself into the tournament. She felt like she could've shot as low as 66 or 67 if her putter was just a little hotter.
"I haven't become quite the ball-striker I want to become, but I'm getting there," Casi said. "My short game really saved me (Monday). My chipping was excellent, and my putting was solid.
"I was a little concerned about the weather. If it's a downpour all day, then it becomes a fight and not about golf. It becomes about holding onto your club and keeping everything dry."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun