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Ishii Wins Second Title of Season

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After many delays and suspensions due to severe weather Friday, the Lincoln Futures Golf Classic finally crowned a champion, second-year Futures Tour player Linda Ishii of Los Angeles, Calif.
 
This two-time winner of the season shot a 1-under-par 70 for a 208 (-5) total and beat out first-round leader Nicole Materne of Spokane, Wash., and second-round leader and LPGA non-exempt member Michele Vinieratos of Altamonte Springs, Fla., by one shot. In fourth alone was another LPGA non-exempt member, Sue Ginter-Brooker of Appleton, Wis., who shot 73 (+2) and ended with a 210 (-3) total at the 6,143-yard par 71 Blue Fox Run Golf Course in Avon, Conn.
 
Starting the day, Ishii, playing in the second to last group, was four shots behind Vinieratos, who was at 8-under-par for the tournament. During the entire round it was Ishii who kept herself on the radar screen, just hanging around the leaders until the very end.
 
'I just came out today to play my very best,' said the 25-year-old Japanese native, who had to complete two holes of her second round earlier in the morning. 'I was not thinking about winning because I was so far behind. However, the course did play tougher today because the wind blew from a different direction so it gave me a chance.'
 
Vinieratos, who had a two-shot lead going into the day, bogeyed Nos. 1 and 7 and birdied 8 to make the turn at 7-under-par, three strokes better than Materne and Ginter-Brooker. Ishii turned at 1-over for the day and 3-under for the tournament after a bogey on the fifth hole and eight pars.
 
On the back, things got interesting, as Vinieratos started to struggle and Ishii just kept playing steady, making pars. On 11 and 13, Vinieratos bogeyed slipping down two, to 5-under. Then on the par-5 526-yard 14th hole, Ishii hit her wedge to four feet and made the putt for birdie. That got her to within one along with Ginter-Brooker, who had made three bogeys and two birdies up to that point. Ginter-Brookers bogey on 16 made it a two-player race between Ishii and Vinieratos.
 
The turnaround hole of the day was the par-5 514-yard 17th hole. Ishii hit her gap wedge from 93 yards to one foot and made the putt for birdie to put her into a tie with Vinieratos. As Ishii walked up to the 18th tee, she saw the leaderboard for the very first time and realized that she was tied for the lead. She proceeded to hit her 4 iron from 176 yards to 60 feet from the cup on the par-3 178-yard 18th hole. She hit her first putt to seven feet and then watched her second putt go right in for par.
 
'I didnt know where I stood until I got to the 18th tee and looked at the leaderboard,' said Ishii, who was the winner of the Isleta Casino & Resort Futures Golf Classic in Albuquerque, N.M., this past May. 'This was just like my first win. I had no idea until the very end. In both cases, the leaders backed up to me. I just played my game and ended up the winner.'
 
Behind her was Vinieratos playing the 17th hole. She hit her tee shot in the right trees, punched out, left her third shot short of the green and failed to get it up and down for par. Vinieratos for the first time since her 24th hole of the tournament gave up the lead. She set herself up to make birdie on 18 by hitting it to within 18 feet of the cup. However, her try did not go in, giving Ishii her second win.
 
Vinieratos said, 'I was disappointed in how I played today. However, I will not dwell on it. I will look back, learn and move on. I am just going to keep playing one shot at a time and one hole at a time and see what happens.'