You might think that Daniela Darquea (Quito, Ecuador), No. 10 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, is sweating bullets and losing sleep over the prospect of finishing in or out of the top 10 with two events left in the year. You couldn’t be further from the truth. The 22-year-old is on the cusp of becoming the first from Ecuador to reach the LPGA and she’s as loose as can be.
“I’m here to have fun and I like playing golf, I know everyone says I’m in a tight position, but to be honest I’m young and I know I’m going to have a long career,” said Darquea, just before practicing at the range at Alaqua. “If I make it on the LPGA this year great, but if not I’ll try again and I still have Q-School.”
Is she feeling the pressure? Sure. However, she’s got a bring-it-on mentality.
“I love the pressure, this is why I play golf,” said Darquea, who has six top 10’s this season. “I was talking to my coach and family and this is the place you want to be. I love to compete so I like the position I’m in. I have two important events left, a $150,000 purse and a $200,000 purse so it’s exciting.”
Darquea finished in a tie for fifth last week at the Guardian Championship and created more separation from No. 11. She is now $5,302 in front of Sophia Popov (Heidelberg, Germany).
“I’m having fun and it was fun to have a week where I was making putts and hitting good shots,” said Darquea. “It is great to know that my game is at a really high level. It was great to feel comfortable on the course and know that I can make putts."
The former Miami Hurricanes star won the 2nd tournament of the season (IOA Championship), but hit a lull in the middle of the season. She didn’t have any top 25 finishes in June or July.
“At the middle of the year, I was struggling with my ball-striking and I was barley making cuts and after Milwaukee when I had a chance to go back home and be with my coach, things got better,” explained Darquea. "It’s great to know that those weeks off back home practicing are working out. I’m pretty confident that everything is going to turn out well.
Darquea has her coach, Jorge Mesa, who she has worked with since she was 14 in Longwood this week. Mesa flew in from Ecuador and will be with Darquea the last two weeks. He was the one that motivated Darquea to play professional golf so they are sharing the last two weeks together.
Mesa is the one that refined her ball-striking, too.
“My ball-striking was so much better in Arkansas and Alabama so I’m not worried about that,” said Darquea. “I’m trying to win tournaments by making putts. If I’m making putts, I’ll be just fine.”
Darquea also has the perfect mindset this week. She’s not zeroed in on the four letters of “LPGA”, instead it’s the three letters of “IOA”.
“I’m not thinking of going to the LPGA, I’m thinking of winning this tournament.”
A second win this week would secure her fate on the LPGA next year.