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First Round Tournament News and Notes

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota, August 31, 2017 – Daniela Darquea (Quito, Ecuador) knows she’s close to an LPGA Tour card and that a win this week would put her on the cusp of realizing the dream. She got off to a great start with a 6-under, 65 to lead the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge at Willow Run Golf Course. Madison Pressel (Boca Raton, Florida) and Paola Moreno (Cali, Colombia) are one shot back at 5-under, 66. 

A total of 14 players posted scores of 3-under or better and 41 players were under-par. 

Darquea, who ranks 9th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, could close-in on the LPGA with the first-place pay day of $31,500. 

She made six birdies and an eagle on the reachable par-5 seventh hole. 

“I had a good day, I putted really well and I like the greens,” said Darquea, who won the IOA Championship earlier this season. “I’ve been working on my putting and finally I am rolling them in.”

Darquea attempted 29 putts on the day.

The 21-year-old made birdie on her first hole of the day and then had a steady front nine. She really started to flourish on the back nine. She made birdie on three of her first four holes on her inward nine and then made eagle on seven. She birdied eight from 20-feet to get to 7-under, but made a bogey on the par-3 ninth to end her day. 

Darquea went back to Ecuador for two weeks during the recent off weeks and then returned to the U.S. last week and took a putting lesson from James Sieckmann in Omaha. Sieckmann is very knowledgeable on putting. In fact, he published a book entitled “Your Putting Solution” last year.

“Whenever I get to visit him it is a positive thing mentally and he always gives me the right things to work on,” explained Darquea. “I feel like I have improved a lot this year and my putting is getting so much better.”

With six events left, Darquea is under $3,000 in front of No. 11 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list so nothing is assured. 

“This is the most important event of the season for me because of where I am standing (on the money list), it is a key tournament,” said Darquea. “If I can score well the rest of the days, I’m probably going to be very close to the LPGA card, which is what I really want to do.”

Just a rookie, Darquea doesn’t seem to be feeling the pressure of the final stretch. Instead, she is  relishing it.

“I feel the support back home and this is something I’ve wanted since I was really young,” said Darquea. “It’s a dream and I feel like I’m working really hard towards it. I feel like my game is at a really high level right now so I’m excited to keep playing.”

Darquea turning professional following a strong junior season at the University of Miami. She has three top 10 finishes this season. 

She would be the first from Ecuador to compete on the LPGA Tour. 

• Round 1 Pairings (Click to view)
• Round 2 Pairings (Click to view)

Current Standings/Leaderboard (Click to view)

MADISON PRESSEL POSTS BEST ROUND OF THE YEAR: Madison Pressel (Boca Raton, Florida) carded her lowest round of the 2017 season, a 5-under, 66 to stand one shot back. Pressel’s previous 

low round this season was a 2-under on three separate occasions

Pressel currently ranks 79th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, but a first-place paycheck could move her as high as 12th. 

“When you have a purse that is $200,000 plus, no matter where you are on the money list, a win is going to bump you up an insane amount,” said Pressel. “You cannot let go and say there are six events left. It doesn’t matter. There is no reason why you can’t make enough money to at least skip Stage II (of LPGA Qualifying Tournament) or even get a card. There is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do that.”

Pressel made four birdies on her front nine and one on her back. It was a bogey-free round.

“I was striking the ball really well and got some putts to drop,” said Pressel, who almost aced the par-3 fourth hole. I made birdie on all three of the par-3 holes on the front so I was hitting my irons really, really well.”

Pressel had a nagging wrist injury in 2016 and had to reshape her swing. Since November, she has been working with her new coach, Chuck Cook, on the post-wrist-injury swing. 

“We revamped my entire swing, I had to change the way I was getting into the ball so I don’t re-injure my wrist,” explained Pressel. “Seeing how much better my swing was, it was frustrating to not be scoring well, but I knew it was only a matter of time.”

Pressel is one of many players in the field that has been paying close attention to Hurricane Harvey and trying to help. While she was born and bred in Florida, Pressel has a big spot in her heart for the state of Texas as she played college golf at Texas. She has also been through a few hurricanes.  

“I remember having two weeks off of school to get our city back together, but it was nothing like what we are seeing in Houston,” said Pressel. “When you see the pictures, there is just so much we can do to help. So many of my classmates at Texas were in Houston. Shannon (Fish) and Portland (Rosen) are two of my really good friends and that is their city. It’s so sad what is going on and I want to do everything I can to help.”

Pressel donated 50% of the proceeds from her side skin care business to the American Red Cross this week. 

SDSU SOPHOMORE TOSCANO HAS A BLAST: A fan came up to Teresa Toscano, a sophomore at South Dakota State University, after her round and asked what she shot.

“I don’t even care what I shot,” she replied. “I had a blast.”

Toscano, who is playing on a sponsors exemption, posted a 5-over, 76 and is in a tie for 122nd. She made birdies on holes two and eight. She also made a pair of double-bogeys. 

“It is a really good opportunity, so much fun with the pro golfers,” said Toscano. “You can definitely learn a lot from them. I really was trying to watch their pre-shot routines.”

Tom Walsh, the CEO/Chairman of GreatLIFE, led an “S-D-S-U” chant after Toscano made par on 18. She raised her arms to acknowledge. 

“I love representing SDSU, I love the university and am so happy to be here,” said Toscano, a native of Spain. “I have no words for those people (fans) and what they mean to me.”

Toscano said her goal for Friday is to make the cut. 

NO. 5 ON MONEY LIST IN MIX: Hannah Green (Perth, Australia) knows exactly when she last slept on her own bed in Australia. It was March 18.

“I was over here (U.S.) for four months and that’s a long time,” said Green, after a 4-under, 68. “It was just so refreshing to go home, it felt like a dream the first night I got to sleep in my bed.”

Green took the last Symetra Tour tournament (PHC Classic) off and spent a full four weeks in Australia. For the first week and a half, she didn’t touch a club.

She showed no rust on Thursday with four birdies and an eagle on the 17th hole. 

“It’s a long stretch of tournaments coming up so I’m trying to take everything easy,” said Green. “It was really good having the four weeks off.”

Green also used the time to see her coach and prepare for this tournament in particular.

“I think I’m hitting it the best I have,” said Green. “You have to be on this course and you have to make putts.”


Photos and notes courtesty of LPGA and the Symetra Tour