All it takes is one good week to right the ship. Daniela Iacobelli cherishes that thought while driving her SUV from stop to stop on the Symetra Tour, this week from Albany, N.Y, two hours west on Interstate 90 to Syracuse, N.Y., for the Credit Union Classic.
“Every week this year one piece has been missing,” Iacobelli said. “It can look like an outrageous number sometimes when there’s only one small thing to figure out. I’m looking for another week where it just clicks. People go years without winning. I’m just trying to put those pieces together.”
Iacobelli knows all about making the most of contending one week. Two years ago, she came to the final tournament of the Symetra Tour season, the Daytona Beach (Fla.) Invitational, ranked 22nd on the money list. In the shadow of LPGA Headquarters, Iacobelli was tied for the lead entering the final round, birdied the final hole for her first professional victory and jumped to fifth on the final money list, securing her card for the 2013 LPGA.
This year has been as much a psychological battle as a physical endeavor. She has one top-10 finish, a second at the Firekeepers Casino Hotel Champoinship in early June, in 14 starts. Currently ranked 24th on the money list – notice the symmetry to 2012? – Iacobelli has had to get a grip on playing the LPGA in 2013 and not finding success. Talent isn’t the issue, as Iacobelli, 26, is perennially among the longest drivers in women’s golf. She led the Symetra Tour in 2012, was third on the LPGA last year and is currently fourth on the Symetra Tour. She also is fourth in birdies on the Symetra Tour this season.
“Last year, in a nutshell, was something I had dreamed about since I was 10 years old and it happened all of a sudden,” said Iacobelli, who made two cuts in 15 starts on the LPGA. “There were people everywhere and it was hectic at times since I don’t have an agent and had to make my own arrangements. People I grew up watching were beside me on the practice tee. It was kind of surreal. It was hard sometimes to take it all in and remember why I was there in the first place.”
The return to the Symetra Tour is having a calming influence on the bubbly Michigan native. She enjoys touring the country by car and getting reacquainted with host families at smaller events. She even occasionally entertains her pro-am partners with an ability to hit the running Happy Gilmore drives that Adam Sandler made famous in the 1996 comedy.
Now, the stretch run to the Symetra Tour is here, with six events through mid-September to make a push for a return to the LPGA.
“I’ve just got to be in the right place mentally,” Iacobelli said. “The weeks that I play really well, it almost comes effortlessly. It’s just like another day at home, playing against the boys I grew up competing with.
“It’s still the same game out here on the Symetra Tour as on the LPGA, still 18 holes a day. I think I have a better sense now how to handle it all.”