LAKE WALES, Fla., March 28, 2015 – Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne, Florida) battled windy conditions on Saturday and carded a 3-under 69 to move into sole possession of the lead at 6-under 138 at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic. Iacobelli will go for her second career win on Sunday.
She will play in the final group, which tees at 12:20 p.m., with Canadians Brittany Henderson (-4, 140) and Sue Kim (-3, 141). A total of 77 players made the cut, which was 7-over par 151.
Battling winds that stayed steady at 10-12 miles-per-hour and gusted to 25 miles-per-hour, Iacobelli posted four birdies against just one bogey. She carded back-to-back birdies on the fourth and fifth holes and then made a 35-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole to make the turn at 3-under for the day.
“I had a couple of long putts for birdie and a couple short ones, but I just tried to minimize the mistakes and stay in the moment,” said 27-year-old Iacobelli. “We were just on cruise control today.”
Iacobelli’s lone blemish was a bogey on the tenth hole. She later closed on a bright note with a birdie on the 18th to end the day at 6-under.
“I had 157-yards into the hole on 18 and I basically took a 7-iron over the right bunker and the wind brought it right in towards the hole,” said Iacobelli. “When I got up to the ball I told myself that this is one you need to convert. If you birdie 18 with the way the wind is it is like picking up at least a half shot on the field. It went in and I was pretty pumped to finish with a birdie.”
Iacobelli has been in this situation on a number of occasions. She won the 2012 Daytona Beach Invitational to go from 22nd to 5th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list to earn her 2013 LPGA Tour card. She has six additional top ten finishes on the Symetra Tour.
“This is fun,” explained Iacobelli about being in contention. “There were a couple years where I was fighting so hard just to make cuts, but I’ve put in a lot of hard work the last couple years and I feel like there are going to be more tournaments where I might find myself at the top of the leaderboard.”
Iacobelli is also comfortable in the state of Florida.
“I was born in Detroit, but I’ve lived down here for 12 years so I went to high school and college (Florida Tech) in Florida so this is in my element with the bermuda grass, the bare lies and the wind,” said Iacobelli. “This is what I am used to so there is a comfort level.”
Iacobelli gave credit to her volunteer caddie, Alvaro Hernandez, who is a sophomore on the golf team at nearby Weber International University.
“My caddie’s home course is Lake Wales Country Club and I’ve played this course a number of times so there is definitely comfort,” said Iacobelli. “He was the one that made the great club choice on 18 because I was in between and he said 7-iron.”
As for the potential nerves of an $18,750 paycheck and the final round on Sunday.
“It’s one shot at a time tomorrow, it always is and hopefully we’ll have another 69 of them tomorrow and I’ll be good.”
HENDERSON SISTERS BOTH IN TOP 10: Brittany Henderson (Smith Falls, Ontario) will find herself in the final group tomorrow after a second-straight round of 2-under par. She is 4-under 140 and two shots back of Iacobelli.
“I played pretty solid all day so I was happy about it,” Henderson said. “I missed a couple of putts so I feel like I could have been better too so it’s always a good feeling heading into the last day feeling like you left a couple out there.”
In just her third start on the Symetra Tour, Henderson will be looking to take home the victory tomorrow.
“I’m really happy that I got myself in this position and I just hope to go out and have a similar attitude tomorrow and stick to my game plan,” Henderson explained. “Hit fairways and give myself opportunities to make some birdie putts.”
While some may think the rookie may be feeling some nerves she will have plenty of familiar faces around to keep her loose with her family in town and staying with friends from back home in Canada.
“I think a nice relaxing night tonight,” Henderson said of her plans sleeping on a second place. “Have some dinner. I think some more people from my hometown are coming over for dinner so it will be a fun evening and then hopefully to bed somewhat early and get rested up for tomorrow.”
Her 17-year-old sister, Brooke, carded a 1-under 71 to move from T23 to a tie for sixth at even-par.
NO YARDAGE BOOK, NO PROBLEM: Sue Kim (Langley, British Columbia) pieced together a 1-under round of 71 on Saturday morning to sit at 3-under for the tournament and in solo third.
“I’m happy with where I am right now with how the wind is blowing,” Kim said. “I’m going to play a little bit later tomorrow and we’re supposed to have a good weather day so I’m excited. I played the first two events and didn’t play great so it feels to be good to be in contention to win a tournament and be in a position to where I can finish in the top 10.”
Kim has been able to stay at home this week at as she lives out at ChampionsGate near Orlando.
“I’m staying at home so I feel very comfortable,” Kim said. “I don’t have to pack up a suitcase and go somewhere. I can just go home and sleep in my own bed. I think I’m in better position than anyone coming out of the housing or hotels.”
Another luxury that staying close to home provides Kim is the opportunity to retrieve things she may have forgotten which was the case today.
“I left my yardage book at home today and my mom had to go get it,” Kim said. “I was drying everything from out of my bag from yesterday and I didn’t realize I’d left it out until I went to the range so my mom got it to me on the fourth hole.”