Lacrosse Carries Support, But Not The Bag
Fresh Off Making Cut At Senior Open, Doug Lacrosse Watches Daughter Cindy At Women’s Amateur
By David Shefter, USGA
Eugene, Ore. – A lot of fathers – 55 in total – are serving as caddies this week at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Eugene Country Club. For most, it’s a chance to bond and soak up a national championship.
Not for Cindy Lacrosse. Even with a dad who competes part-time on the Champions Tour and just tied for 34th at last week’s U.S. Senior Open, the 21-year-old from Tampa, Fla., chose to go solo, as in sans caddie, when the stroke-play qualifying portion of the championship commenced on Monday.
“She fired me a long time ago,” said the 56-year-old Doug Lacrosse, who has earned $120,138 since turning pro six years ago following a distinguished amateur career that included appearances in the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur and USGA State Team.
Turns out this father/daughter caddie relationship is more like a Hollywood marriage. There is plenty of love and mutual respect for each other’s games, but Cindy would prefer to have dad pulling for her over pulling her clubs.
“It’s just hard,” said Cindy of having her dad on the bag. “He just gets so excited that I have to calm him down instead of the other way around.”
The younger Lacrosse did just fine without any caddie assistance over the 6,484-yard, par-72 layout, carding a 2-over 74, which included a three-putt, double-bogey 6 on No. 18, her ninth hole of the round. A year ago at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., Lacrosse, playing in her first Women’s Amateur, had rounds of 78-77 to miss the match-play cut by four strokes. So the four-shot improvement from a year ago was welcome relief for the 2008 first-team All-Big East Conference selection.
A little more experience and confidence helps as well.
“I think I am a lot more consistent,” said Lacrosse. “My misses aren’t as big. I think I know how to get out of tough situations. I know how to save bogey instead of blowing up on a hole.”
She would, however, like a couple of putts back. She lipped out a 3-foot birdie putt at the 14th – “That was terrible” – and lipped another short bogey putt at 18.
But the ball-striking was solid and even dad was impressed with her opening-round performance.
“She played a lot better than I ever did [in the U.S. Amateur],” said Doug, whose last Amateur appearance was in 1997 at Cog Hill outside of Chicago. Doug did represent Florida at the 1995, ’97 and ’99 USGA State Team Championships before turning pro late in 2001. “[This week], it’s all about her. This is a treat.”
At last week’s Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., Lacrosse not only made the cut, but played the final two rounds with five-time USGA champion Hale Irwin. In the final round, he bested Irwin by two strokes and collected a check for $15,917.
“He was very nice and a class act like he’s always been to me,” said Lacrosse, who has now competed in two Senior Opens, two Senior British Opens and four Senior PGA Championships.
Earlier this year, Lacrosse played in his fourth Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y., and had Cindy serve as his caddie. In the second round, Cindy cost dad two strokes when she committed a Rules infraction by raking a bunker while her dad’s ball was still in the hazard. The penalty didn’t turn out to be a difference-maker in terms of the cut, but Cindy definitely learned from the mistake.
“I was very nervous that it was going to matter,” she said. “Thankfully, it didn’t. Now I know that rule.”
It was during Doug’s first U.S. Senior Open appearance at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, in 2003 that piqued a then 16-year-old Cindy’s desire to take her game to the next level. From the gallery, she knew she wanted to be inside the ropes competing against the best.
A year later while at the Senior PGA at Valhalla., Doug and his wife, Pam, were touring Louisville, Ky., when they bumped into Kelly Meyers Rothberg, the women’s head coach at the University of Louisville. Doug mentioned that he had a daughter who was interested in playing Division I golf and a couple of months later, Cindy phoned the coach and arranged for an official campus visit. One trip convinced Cindy she had found where she wanted to attend.
It’s proven to be a solid decision as Lacrosse owns three college tournament wins along with her Big East honors. In 2007, she helped the Cardinals place 10th at the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship. Her plan is to graduate next spring and then give professional golf a try. It doesn’t hurt to have a pro already in the family.
“It’s great to have somebody who has been through qualifying school,” she said. “It’s a great asset.”
But Lacrosse currently has more important things on her mind than Q-School. Making the cut this week and going far in match play are her top priorities.
If she does qualify for match play, Lacrosse will probably hire a caddie.
“I haven’t decided who yet,” she said with a smile.
Just don’t look for dad to be hoofing the bag.
David Shefter is a USGA New Media staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.