Former Tech Standout Iacobelli Earns LPGA Tour Card
|Photo by Scott A. Miller|
Former Florida Tech women's golf standout Daniela Iacobelli recently took her golf career to the next level by earning her LPGA Tour card.
Iacobelli holds nearly every record in Florida Tech women’s golf history. She holds the top four lowest scoring averages in a season, has the most tournament wins in a career, and is FIT’s only NCAA Division II women’s golf individual national champion, which she became as a sophomore. In Iacobelli’s storied four-year Panther career, she earned eight victories, including capturing that national title in 2007.
But perhaps no victory in her life was bigger than her win at the Daytona Beach Invitational on Sept. 30. The win propelled the Satellite Beach, Fla., native to fifth place in the money-list standings of the Symetra Tour. The developmental tour provides the opportunity for participants to qualify for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour. Iacobelli earned her tour card with the top-10 overall finish.
“We knew going into the tournament that we needed to win in order to get the (LPGA Tour) card,” Iacobelli said. “As attainable as that was to us physically, mentally I don’t think we really prepared for it. We knew that we had to take it shot by shot and never get ahead of ourselves."
“We had to play smart and play our own game. Regardless of what anybody else was doing, we just had to focus on ourselves, and everything just happened the way it was supposed to. Everywhere we were on the course it felt like we were at a comfortable yardage. We were putting the ball on proper sides of the hole where putts became easier to read and everything just magically fit into place.”
Iacobelli represents the second Panther in just three months to earn a professional tour card. Men’s golfer Zach Potter qualified for the brand new PGA Tour Latinoamérica in August. Potter was one of eight Americans to earn his tour card in the new tour.
Since her victory, Iacobelli has experienced a whirlwind of publicity, from shout-outs by professional golfers, such as a congratulations tweet from LPGA Tour staple Christina Kim, to interviews, including an appearance on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive.
“The Golf Channel thing was really cool,” Iacobelli said. “The guys were awesome, and we tweeted back and forth with them a little yesterday. It was pretty cool to get up there and see how everything was run. It was a dream come true for sure.”
Iacobelli was not without a little inspiration at the final tournament of the Symetra Tour. Just a week earlier, she was informed that a former host family father, with whom Iacobelli stayed during a tournament in Fisher, Ind., had died in a motorcycle accident. Iacobelli said in that week, the father whom she referred to as Papa Duke, treated her as if she were part of the family.
“He came out Sunday of that tournament and followed me around and was rooting me on. He kept telling me to keep digging deep,” Iacobelli said. “So we went into the beginning of this [tournament] saying this week was going to be for Papa Duke in remembrance of him for everything he did to help me out that week.”
Iacobelli did enough to grab the win, sinking a short putt on the final hole to earn an 11-under-par, two-stroke victory. The win vaulted the former Panther into fifth place in the money standings and earned her the tour card.
“Nothing has really sunk in, until you start getting into conversations with people,” Iacobelli said. “Mom starts tearing up. When I talk to my caddie, we keep going through the weekend and it was just unbelievable. Everything just fit into place.”
Her caddie, Tyler Del Buono, has been with her for two years. Iacobelli said she was happy to have him with her for the beginning of her new adventure on the LPGA Tour.
“I think there is going to be some nerves,” she said. “But I think I will be really excited to test myself and see where my game is at. I’ll be pretty star struck a couple of times I’m sure. But I’m really excited and I’m glad my caddie is going to be with me so we can experience those things together.”
Iacobelli graduated after a stellar four-year career at Florida Tech in which she became the most decorated golfer in the program’s history. Her victory in the 2007 National Championship was the first ever for the program. She added a sixth place finish in the National Championship during her senior campaign.
“Florida Tech was huge for me in a sense that the accomplishments I had there set the stage for me now,” she said. “Everyone has come up to me with really kind words and said I was great on TV and doing well in these interviews. It’s really funny that they say that because when I was at [Florida Tech] I was getting interviewed by the local newspaper, Florida Today, and students on campus and talking with the president and playing golf with them.
“It taught me how to accept when I did well and how to articulate myself in different situations. Plus, there is the education they provided me with. Having a business degree and going into something like this helps a lot. It was definitely huge in more ways than I realized.”
The next tournament on the LPGA Tour in America will be the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix, Ariz. The event, which will likely be Iacobelli’s first on tour, is scheduled to begin March 15. The tournament purse is $1.5 million.