Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne, Florida) made five birdies on her back nine to post a 6-under, 66 to grab the 18-hole lead at the Decatur-Forsyth Classic presented by Tate & Lyle and Decatur Park District. Iacobelli, who is playing in the event for a sixth time, will go for her third career Symetra Tour win over the weekend. No. 2 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, Ally McDonald (Fulton, Miss.), posted a 5-under, 67 and is in a tie for second with No. 12 Clariss Guce (Artesia, Calif.).

There are 16 players within three shots of the lead. There were 47 players under-par on Friday and 73 at even-par or better.

Iacobelli put an exclamation point on her round with birides on 16 and 18.

“I wasn’t paying much attention to the scoreboards and the final three holes are playing straight downwind so I was able to hit it absolutely as far as I can,” said Iacobelli, who hit a 300-yard drive on hole 16. “It gives me a sand wedge in and I converted the putt on 16 and stuffed it on 18 so the set up helped me.”

Iacobelli, who graduated from the Symetra to the LPGA in 2015, is playing in Decatur in order to prepare for her next two LPGA starts in Canada. She also played three weeks ago on the Symetra Tour in Battle Creek and posted a 68 on day one. Although she missed the cut, Iacobelli said her game is in a good spot.

“I’m just working on some things like triggers so I don’t worry so much about where the ball is going,” said Iacobelli. “I’ve been seeing improvements over the last two weeks on shots I was having trouble with.”

The 28-year-old has been up-and-down on the LPGA Tour this year. She has made seven cuts in 17 starts. Iacobelli ranks 128th on the LPGA money list and will need to play well at the two events in Canada in late August and early September in order to retain her full card.

“I have a week off next week so basically I came here to warm up and get some work in on the things I need to improve,” said Iacobelli. “I then go to the Canadian Open and then the Manulife LPGA Classic.”

Iacobelli said she is very comfortable in Decatur. In her last appearance at the Decatur-Forsyth Classic in 2014, she finished in a tie for 21st.

“I really didn’t do much on course prep early this week, I played nine Wednesday and nine Thursday,” said Iacobelli. “I just worked on shots that I knew I’d see and worked on numbers I knew I’d be around. The mental triggers have been my major focus.”

Iacobelli’s caddy is professional golfer Britney Hamilton, who has played on the Symetra Tour since 2012.

“I was driving from Virginia to Detroit and we (Britney) were on the phone for like four hours and she asked who my caddy was and I said probably a local and she let me know she wasn’t really doing anything that week,” said Iacobelli. “I told her she could come out and caddy and she did and Wednesday of that week we booked her flight to New Jersey and Wednesday of Jersey we booked her flight to Seattle. She signed up for the rest of the year and it has been fun. I’ve known Britney since 2011 so there is a pretty good friendship there too.”

Iacobelli has 15 career top 10 finishes on the Symetra Tour. Her last win came at the 2015 Tullymore Classic.

McDonald, who has five top 10 finishes this season, made five birdies on her inward nine after a somewhat sluggish start.

“I couldn’t really get anything going on the front nine,” said McDonald. “I made the turn at 1-under and then had three in a row coming in and made some pretty big putts.”

McDonald made an 18-foot putt on seven and a 20-footer on eight for two big birdies. The rookie has already earned $72,574.

OTHER SPORTS LEAD TO SUCCESS FOR GUCE: Clariss Guce (Artesia, Calif.), who ranks 12th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, made six birdies and just one bogey to stand at 5-under, 67. Guce and her crew of fellow rookies on Tour have found an escape this season during the pre-tournament window in playing other sports. They have done basketball, bowling, soccer, batting cages and they want to play table tennis, kickball and other activities.

“This (golf) is basically our full-time jobs and the nice thing about my group of friends is that as soon as we step off the course we move onto the next thing and just want to do something fun,” said Guce. “It’s good to unplug from golf. It’s making a huge difference and my golf is speaking for itself. It’s a good change and we’re having fun.”

In mid-July, Guce won the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic and just two weeks ago she finished T9 at the Kansas City Championship. Guce is trying not to think about her position relative to the top 10.

“It would be great to finish strong here, but I’m not really thinking about that,” said Guce, who was actually more excited about her friend Kristin Coleman, who posted a 4-under, 68 in the group in front. “I like to see my friends doing well and it is great competition. I was 1-under at the turn and I heard she was 2-under and I was like ‘I have to get up there’.”

COLEMAN TWINS BOTH IN TOP 20: Kristin Coleman (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) is exactly one minute older than her twin sister, Jenny. Both are in the Decatur-Forsyth Classic this week. Kristin carded a 4-under, 68 and is in a tie for fourth while Jenny turned in a 2-under, 70 and is T18. Kristin finished with birdies on 16, 17 and 18.

“On 16, I hit a 7-iron to 12-feet, on 17 I hit it to 12-feet and on 18 I hit it to 9-feet and I knocked them all in,” said Kristin. “It feels good to put up a good number on the first day so I will be a little more comfortable the next two days.”

Kristin has played in just five Symetra Tour events this season due to her limited status. She has earned $639 and is hoping for a big finish to avoid going to Stage 1 of LPGA Qualifying Tournament in two weeks.

“I have to get moving if I want to get in the top 150 to avoid Q-School 1,” said Coleman. “I’d love to get away from Stage I as it is no fun. Hopefully this week will be enough.”

Life on the road can be lonely for many, but not Kristin and Jenny.

“It’s fun, I have someone to travel with, hang out with and do everything with,” said Kristin. “We were business marketing majors together at Colorado and we lived together and took the same classes. We stick together like glue.”


  • Six players in the current top 10 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list are T18 or better. McDonald (No. 2) and Erica Popson (No. 6) are inside the top four.
  • The scoring average on Friday was 72.774. For perspective, the scoring average on day one at the last event (Kansas City Championship) was 74.219.


Click here for the leaderboard


Written By: Symetra Tour Communications