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Tsiros, Lillie capitalize at No. 14, use momentum to take second-round lead at The Donna

Tsiros, Lillie capitalize at No. 14, use momentum to take second-round lead at The Donna

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The Donna Andrews Invitational field has found out through two rounds how challenging No. 14 at Boonsboro Country Club is with its downhill tee shot and blind, uphill approach to a two-tiered green. Birdies have been few and far between, and coming away even on the par 4 is celebrated.

Ana Tsiros definitely felt like celebrating after converting on an up-and-down to save par at No. 14, while Beth Lillie’s approach shot left a short, downhill birdie putt to continue her solid back nine.

The momentum the two gained there carried over for the final four holes and helped them take the lead after Monday’s second round at Boonsboro.

Lille and Tsiros each posted 3-under 69s and are two shots ahead of Becca DiNunzio, who shot even par for the second straight round, heading into today’s final round of the 54-hole tournament.

“That was kind of nice to birdie that one,” Lillie said of No. 14.

The birdie helped Lillie quickly atone for a bogey at the par-4 12th and move back into a tie with Tsiros atop the leaderboard at 1 under.

Tsiros used birdies at Nos. 11 and 13 to move to 1 under, but she was in jeopardy of dropping a stroke when her second shot at 14 went by the pin and was nestled in the rough. She used a 58-degree wedge on her third shot, and the ball trickled down the green to within a foot of the hole for an easy tap-in for par.

“That was really big,” she said.

Brynn Walker and Marissa Kirkwood, two of three players who shot under par in Sunday’s first round, struggled Monday and both fell to 1 over for the tournament. They are in a three-way tie for fourth with Samantha Vodry.

Kirkwood, who used her wedges Sunday to rally for a 1-under round, didn’t need them Monday by making it onto the green 13 times in regulation to set up eagle and birdie opportunities. However, she needed 32 putts to get through her round, and the defending champion of the invitational had birdie putts at Nos. 1 and 7 lip out, and her birdie chances at Nos. 12, 14 and 18 burned the edges.

“That was kind of the story of the day: getting on the green and just missing some putts,” said Kirkwood, who posted a 2-over 74 Monday after recording a double-bogey at the par-3 17th.

Alexis Florio, the first-round leader, shot 77 Monday and fell into a three-way tie for seventh at 2 over. Five players are tied for 10th at 3 over.

Lillie and Tsiros added some breathing room between themselves and the other contenders with birdies at the 17th.

Lillie used a 6 iron for her tee shot on the par 3, and it landed pin high 4 feet left of the hole for the tap-in birdie.

“I was glad to get both of those,” Lillie said of her birdies at Nos. 14 and 17. “Feel like I gained on the field a little bit.”

Tuesday’s final group in the Open Division will have a commonwealth feel to it. Lillie is a rising senior at Virginia and a three-time All-ACC selection. Tsiros and DiNunzio are rising sophomores at James Madison and Virginia Tech, respectively, and they previously have played against each other in junior tournaments.

“It’s definitely a lot of fun to be out there with these other great players and be competitive,” DiNunzio said.

Kathryn Ha shot even-par 72 Monday and extended her lead to seven shots over Coty Clarke in the Donna Division.

Mimi Hoffman, at 7 over for the tournament, is four shots ahead of Joan Gardner in the Senior Division.

Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550.

Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550.

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