Leona Maguire got straight down to business in Florida with a non nonsense three under par round opener at the Symetra Tour Championship.
More important than the result of the tournament, Maguire is in line for her LPGA Tour Card for next season should she maintain a Top-10 status on the Volvik Race for the Card in which she is currently in fifth place.
Maguire opened her account in the final event of the season with a couple of birdies before a bogey on the par-3 third moved her to one-over par for the day. She bounced back with birdies on 6 & 9 ahead of a string of pars to the 18th where the highlight of her round was a closing eagle ‘3’ which put a smile on her face and a propelled her to T27 on the leaderboard.
Daniela Iacobelli, Kendra Dalton and Laura Wearn lead the way following 7-under par 65’s and Iacobelli has a little bit of history on her side having won the 2012 Symetra Tour Championship to jump into the Volvik Race for the Card top-10 and earn LPGA Tour membership for the 2013 season. A solo second result this time around along with some help would get the Florida Institute of Technology alumna into the top-10, but a win would ensure her a place among the 2019 Symetra Tour graduating class.
“I felt nerves over the putt on No. 18 because you’re staring out at the LPGA sign and I could remember the exact putt I had when I won in 2012,” said Iacobelli, currently No. 16 in the Volvik Race for the Card. “It was a little reminiscent about it, but still a fresh start. It’s so many things and I just keep trying to stay present, but I’m not really good at that most of the time. We were also fortunate enough this morning to play 10 holes without any real wind.”
Another 18-hole co-leader in Volusia County, Kendra Dalton (Poughquag, New York) has already secured Symetra Tour Category A membership for 2020 as she will finish in the top-80 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list.
It is now a matter of chasing the second annual LPGA Q-Series, with Nos. 11-35 automatically qualifying for the event. At $17,806 in total season earnings, Dalton is $17,891 outside of the last spot.
“Nothing to lose is the mindset I had coming into this week,” Dalton said after a bogey-free showing. “I feel like I have yet to play my best this year, so just go play free and I feel like that’s what I did today. It was exciting to see my game come together. Really is about how bad you want it and going after it. It’s a fun opportunity and spot to be in.”
The final member of the co-leader trio, Laura Wearn (Charlotte, North Carolina) found her way to a 7-under par 65 in bogey-free fashion like Dalton. It also sets a season-best score to par, which tops her previous of 6-under set in March for the second round of Florida’s Natural Charity Classic.
“It was nice to finally play a solid round,” said Wearn, ranked No. 65 in the Volvik Race for the Card with $16,663. “Kind of been a tough year and a few good ones sprinkled in there, but I hit the ball really well today. I hit it really close, made a couple good putts. For the most part, everything was close to the hole. I hit all 18 greens which I don’t think I’ve done all year, hopefully continue the rest of the weekend.”