Sunday in Pendleton, Oregon was nothing short of thrilling. Records were tied and the first Wildhorse Ladies Golf Classic champion was named. After 54-holes, Daniela Iacobelli walked away with her fourth Epson Tour victory.
“I’m in shock,” said Iacobelli. “Nothing will set in for a while. I’m just going through the motions of what you need to do, so I haven’t had time to go through it all in my head.”
The Florida native, who usually flies solo, had a friend on the bag today to help her focus on the mental side of the game. Sarah White served as Iacobelli’s motivational coach, rather than helping her call the shots on the course.
“I’ve been in this position before,” said Iacobelli. “I just told myself that I would accept whatever the outcome is. Thankfully, Sarah was on the bag. I literally credit all of today to her. I’m speechless.”
Iacobelli carded five birdies and a lone eagle on the day. She made an eagle during every round of the tournament – three times in three days. She also had a good, yet eerie feeling about this tournament, which helped calm the nerves throughout the round.
“I’m convinced that when it’s your time, it’s your time,” said Iacobelli. “The stars will always align. I said it all week, my misses were getting by. Yesterday, to myself walking down the tenth fairway, I said ‘we’re going to do this.’ It’s kind of an eerie thing when I win, I kind of know beforehand. It’s just a matter of believing in myself.”
Three strokes behind Iacobelli was Pavarisa Yoktuan. The Thai’s final round of 10-under par 62 moved her up the leaderboard, from 27th place to solo second. Her stellar back-nine, 8-under par 28, also tied the Epson Tour’s low 9-holes record. The last person to shoot 28 in nine holes was Sue Ginter-Brooker in the 2002 Hewlett-Packard Garden State FUTURES Summer Classic.
“My heart was beating really hard,” said Yoktuan. “I could hear it. It’s also my 9-hole record. I wish I could have beat it, but this is great.”
Laura Wearn, Grace Kim and Xiaowen Yin rounded out the top five, finishing four strokes behind Iacobelli, at 14-under. The trio shared third place.
Wearn, who spent most of her round battling at the top, was happy for Iacobelli. The North Carolina native carded seven birdies on the day, despite finishing the round with two bogeys.
“I played great today,” said Wearn. “I hit a lot of good shots. I definitely could have made a few more putts, but it was great until the last two holes. It was a great tournament.”
Kim carded six birdies on the day, five of which happened on her last six holes. The T3 finish puts the Australian closer to securing her 2023 LPGA card and gives her some momentum heading into the final four events of the season.
“I’m just happy to have finished strong after I found a bit of trouble mid-round,” said Kim. “I just have to keep doing what I’m good at, keep chipping away to improve and hoping for some good results to finish the season.”
Yin, who set a goal after the second round to finish in the top five, did just that after signing for a 3-under round. The 17-year-old went bogey free, carding two of her three birdies on the front-nine.
“Not a bad finish,” said Yin. “Today I had a lot of birdie chances, and they were just so close. But I’ll take it, it’s a good finish.”
A total of 51 players finished 5-under or better at the inaugural event.