Daytona Beach Invitational
Presented by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
LPGA International- Champions Course
Second-Round News & Notes
September 29, 2012
Smith, Iacobelli and Massey Share Second-Round Lead at Daytona Beach Invitational
Meet the Daytona Beach Invitational Leaders
Hot or Cold
The Road Continues
Clear Mind, Full Heart, Can’t Lose
Might as Well Jump
See You on Sunday
Smith, Iacobelli and Massey Share Second-Round Lead at Daytona Beach Invitational
Nicole Smith (@NicoleSmithGolf) and Daniela Iacobelli (@DIac1127) both sat three shots off the lead after the first round of the Daytona Beach Invitational, and with only two days left in the 2012 season, the third-year pros had a sense of urgency to make their way to the top of the leaderboard. The duo carded rounds of 4-under par 68 to go 7-under after 36 holes of play and hold a share of the lead with first-round leader Courtney Massey.
Smith had her work cut out for her early during Saturday’s second round as she found herself 3-over for the day after only two holes. Currently ranked No. 9 on the Volvik Race for the Card standings, Smith started with a three-putt double-bogey on the par-4 first followed by a bogey on the par-4 second.
She immediately rebounded to card three birdies on the front-nine and made the turn at even-par for the day. The birdies continued for Smith on the back-nine as she recorded four additional birdies to finish the day with a 4-under par 68.
Iacobelli had a less eventful front nine and carded one of her five birdies before she made the turn on the par 4 seventh. She got two more birdies on Nos. 11 and 13 before she carded her only bogey of the day on the par-4 16th. But the Viera, Fla. native insisted on a strong finish a rattled off back-to-back birdies on her final two holes to finish 4-under for the day.
Massey put on quite the putting demonstration during Friday’s first round but Saturday proved to be just the opposite for the overnight leader. While Massey struggled with her ball striking on Friday, that was just the key to her 1-under par 71 on Saturday.
Massey began the day with a birdie on the par-4 first but immediately dropped a shot after a bogey at the par-4 second. Massey then reeled off a string of pars until a birdie at the scoreable par-5 18th.
The trio holds a one-shot lead over a group of four including No. 3 Victoria Elizabeth (@vegolf), No. 10 Sara-Maude Juneau (@smjuneau_3), Stephanie Connelly (@S_L_Connelly) and Erica Moston who sit at 6-under 138.
Nicole Smith (-7): The third year Symetra Tour member has been the epitome of consistency this season and has made the cut in all 15 events. Currently No. 9 on the Volvik Race for the Card, Smith has finished tied for second twice in her career including at this year’s Florida’s Natural Charity Classic but has yet to notch her first victory. She’s been ranked in the top-10 14 out of the 15 weeks of competition this year and is one of only two players on Tour to do so. She also leads the Tour in birdies and greens in regulation. Smith played collegiate golf at the University of Tennessee where she recorded 16 top-15 finishes including one win.
Daniela Iacobelli (-7): Iacobelli turned professional in 2010 after an accomplished collegiate golf career at the Florida Institute of Technology where she recorded 29 top-10 finishes. This year, Iacobelli posted a career-best tied for third at the Symetra Classic and has posted four top-10 finishes. She currently holds a 72.82 stroke average and stands 22nd on the money list. The Viera, Fla. native also leads the Tour in driving distance with a 272.282 yard average.
Courtney Massey (-7): The Symetra Tour rookie has had a solid first season on the Road to the LPGA and has only missed one cut in nine starts. Massey has recorded four top-10 finishes and has a career-best T8 at the Northeast Delta Dental International. She’s currently ranked No. 37 in the Volvik Race for the Card and No. 7 in the Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year standings. A Gold Coast, Australia native, Massey had three wins as an amateur in Australia a year ago and added two top-three finishes.
Difference Maker… Nicole Smith is in the midst of a stellar season that has been highlighted by four top-10 finishes including tied for second at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic and for the University of Tennessee graduate, a year has made all the difference in the world.
Last year, Smith made $17,121 which landed her 32nd on the season-ending money list and only made nine out of 16 cuts. This year has been the complete opposite for the third year Symetra Tour member who stands No. 9 on the Volvik Race for the Card standings and is the only player inside the top-10 that has failed to miss a cut all season.
“I didn’t want to talk about that, but I can talk about it now,” Smith said after safely making the cut this week. “I started noticing that a little over halfway through the season. I made all of them after missing over half of them last year and it feels really good, I like it.”
Smith has placed a large emphasis on improving her swing and the hard work has paid off as this year on tour she ranks 11th in scoring average, second in average driving distance, first in greens in regulation, and first in birdies.
“I work really hard on my swing and I’m very proud of how I guess, they tell me it looks easy,” said Smith. “It doesn’t feel easy all the time but it’s good, it’s very simple, I work very hard at getting it that way. I think my swing coach has done a really good job.”
Hot or Cold…Coming into the season-ending event, Daniela Iacobelli knew she would have to piece together three complete rounds and come out with a win to have a chance to earn her LPGA Tour card on Sunday. The third-year pro has had a season that could be categorized as ‘hot or cold.’ She either has solid weekends with top-20 finishes or finds herself missing cuts. She has four top-10 and six top-10 finishes in her fifteen starts. Iacobelli, who is currently ranked No. 22 on the money list, is one of only two players in the top-25 with six missed cuts.
“I think we’re the highest on the money list with the most missed cuts,” said Iacobelli. “I don’t know if that’s a good stat (laughs). But we came into the week with a home advantage. We’re only an hour away from home. We knew we’d have to win to get the card and that’s the goal. We’re going to go as low as we can tomorrow and try to come out with a win.”
Iacobelli, who is coming off a missed cut last week at the Vidalia Championship, will try to become only the second player this season to record a win following a missed cut the week before. Julia Boland won the Four Winds Invitational in Week 11 one week after missing action on Sunday at the Credit Union Challenge. But with the Tour’s second highest winner’s check to be presented this Sunday in Daytona Beach, Iacobelli had no chance in ignoring the thoughts of shooting for the win and a final opportunity at breaking into the top-10 rankings.
“I’d say on the course, it never comes into play but the heart-to-hearts we have at night, it definitely comes into play,” said Iacobelli.
The Road Continues… Australian Courtney Massey followed-up a first-round 6-under par 66 with a second-round 1-under par 71 and finds herself with a share of the lead heading into tomorrow’s final round. While the Aussie had an impressive amateur resume in Australia, there was a familiar face in the crowd during Saturday’s second round of the Daytona Beach Invitational Presented by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to calm her rattling nerves.
“I think today I settled my nerves a lot better than I would have normally,” Massey said after her round. “There weren’t that many people out front but when you have a leaderboard with you for 18 holes you’re like oh great, I have to look at that all day. So I think especially having my dad here, he makes me feel a little at ease and comfortable so I think all that will help going into tomorrow.”
Massey has not returned home to Australia since a three week stay in August to get her visa for the remaining Symetra Tour season. A rookie on this year’s Symetra Tour, Massey has competed in nine events and recorded four top-10 finishes.
While most Symetra Tour players will be heading to Qualifying School, Massey will return to the Symetra Tour next year to continue her Road to the LPGA.
“I spent a lot of money,” said Massey. “I went back home after South Bend, went home for three weeks, got a P1 visa which was a couple thousand so that means that this year, I still have a full card for next year and I’m happy with that. My goal was to try to make some cuts and see how that goes and I’ve done that so far so leading up to that with a full card for next year I can be here as long as I want.”
Clear Mind, Full Heart, Can’t Lose…Sara-Maude Juneau has been the only player on Tour this season to be ranked in the top-10, fall out of the rankings, and play her way back in—twice. For someone being so involved in the Volvik Race for the Card for the majority of the season, Juneau admits to trying to keep the entire idea of rankings out of her mind.
“I ignored it a little bit,” said Juneau. “I tried not to think about it. I just try to play. I was very happy with the way I’ve played so consistently all through the season. That’s definitely a positive point for me and I just build on that.”
Coming into the last event of the season, Juneau had somewhat of a target on her back as the No. 10 player in the Race for the Card. Holding a coveted position in the rankings could easily put some added extra pressure in order to hold on to that last spot that will earn her an LPGA Tour card next season.
“I was trying not to think about it,” said Juneau. “It was hard because a lot of people were reminding me about it. But personally, I just try to have fun. I’m playing great lately. I’m hitting the ball well and stroking it well. I’ve just been having fun.”
Juneau had a bogey-free round on Saturday with three birdies, all coming within the first five holes. She finished 3-under for the day to put her 6-under and one shot off the lead with one round to play.
“I had a really good start,” said Juneau. “I was three under through five holes. And I kept playing well the rest of the day. The putts just weren’t going in. I didn’t give up. On the back nine I made probably two seven-footers to save par and had that going for me. It was a little frustrating on the back nine, but they’ll fall tomorrow.”
Volvik Check-In…Nine out of the 10 players in the Volvik top-10 in the field this week made the cut and will have one-final chance to improve their rankings in the Race for the Card. No. 9 Nicole Smith leads the group heading into Sunday at 7-under 137 and holds a share of the lead. No. 8 Jenny Suh was the only player ranked to miss the cut after finishing 3-over par 147 with rounds of 72-75.
The following rounds out the scores and positions of the remaining top-10: No. 3 Victoria Elizabeth: T4 (6-under, 69-69); No. 10 Sara-Maude Juneau: T4 (6-under, 69-69); No. 7 Jenny Gleason: T8 (5-under, 70-69); No. 2 Esther Choe: T15 (4-under, 71-69); No. 1 Paola Moreno: T27 (2-under, 72-70); No. 4 Thidapa Suwannapura: T27 (2-under, 70-72); No. 6 Julia Boland: T27 (2-under, 72-70); No. 5 Mi Hyang Lee: T35 (1-under, 73-70).
Might as Well Jump…Stephanie Connelly, Leah Wigger and Carling Coffing all shot the low round of the day (5-under par 67) on Saturday and each made formidable jumps up the leaderboard on moving day. Connelly followed up a first-round 1-under 71 and moved from T23 to T4. Wigger and Coffing both shot 6-over 78 on Friday and turned things around on day two. The duo started Saturday’s second round T113 and jumped to T58 to make the cut.