Casey Danielson has learned more about herself as a golfer the last year since graduating Stanford University than perhaps the Osceola native learned in the four years a fixture in the Cardinal lineup, where she made it look so easy.
It wasn't as easy as it looked Monday, but that might speak to Danielson's ability to roll with the punches at Stillwater CC in Stillwater, Minnesota.
One shot off the pace in a five-way tie for second after an opening-round 73, Danielson shot a bogey-free 68 during a rainy afternoon session and earned medalist honors at U.S. Women's Open sectional qualifying. At 3-under-par 141, she finished three shots ahead of recent Iowa State grad Celia Barquin Arozamena , who won a playoff over University of Minnesota golfer Grace Kellar, a freshman from Edina, Minnesota, for the final Women's Open berth.
The 73rd U.S. Women's Open will be played May 31 through June 3 at Shoal Creek GC in Shoal Creek, Alabama. It will mark the second straight Women's Open for Danielson, who shot 76-73 and missed the cut by three shots a year ago at Trump National GC in New Jersey.
"I've learned a lot over the last year, having so many ups and downs," Danielson wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf. "I'm very committed to the process of getting better every day. I'm excited to gear up these next two weeks before heading to Alabama."
Danielson felt good about her chances Monday over lunch despite an up-and-down opening round. She started with a birdie on No. 10, made bogeys at Nos. 14 and 16 before making the turn in 1-over and played the front nine in even-par after a birdie on No. 4 and a bogey on No. 6, a pair of par-4s.
"I played really consistent in the first round, so I was confident and excited to go out for the second," said Danielson, who made birdies on Nos. 2, 7, 9 and 10 to get to 4-under and then par her final eight holes to finish there. "I knew I needed to shoot under par to have a chance. Just two up and down par saves, otherwise just very consistent play. The rain started as I made the last turn, so that took a bit of an adjustment to my routine and mental plan."
And now Danielson, who is 19th on the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit, has little over two weeks to adjust her routine for the Women's Open.
"I’m striking the ball really well and feel like I’ll be ready to compete on May 31," Danielson said.