The Symetra Tour schedule could not have worked out better for Casey Danielson.
After two deflating days at the IOA Championship in southern California a week earlier, the Osceola native had an extra day to prepare for this week's Windsor Golf Classic and she made the most of it. Danielson dropped by her alma mater at Stanford and got a lesson from Kathyrn Imrie, the Cardinal's volunteer assistant coach and a former European Solheim Cup member.
The session came this close to launching Danielson to victory Sunday.
Danielson made six birdies in a 6-under-par 66 that left her alone in third place at 11-under 205, matching her career-best finish in 15 starts on the LPGA's developmental tour. Danielson missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole or she would have joined a playoff that former Duke standout Leone Maguire, who was Danielson's playing partner during regulation, won with a birdie on the first playoff hole over Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand.
"I didn’t know where I stood most of the day, but I knew that Leona and I were both making lots of birdies," Danielson said of Maguire, who made five in a front-nine 31 and two more on the back nine to shoot 65. "Austin (Gaugert) was caddying for me this week and we were just having a great time on the course."
A 70-69 start in a 54-hole event delayed Friday by rain moved Danielson within three shots off the lead entering the final round. Birdies at Nos. 2, 5 and 8 kept her within striking range entering the back nine, which is all she wanted out of her final round.
"I usually don’t plan to have a mindset going into a round; I just like to go out and play golf and have some fun, Danielson wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf. "(Sunday) was just one of those days where golf came easy and I embraced that."
It continued into the back nine where Danielson birdied Nos. 12, 13 and 16 to move within one shot of the lead. Her 10-footer to tie for the lead on the final hole might not have dropped, but the 17 birdies over the last three days and the opportunity to challenge for the title are things that Danielson hopes will promote further improvements later this month when the Symetra Tour begins again with its next stop at the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout in Arkansas.
"I didn’t have expectations headed into this season," Danielson wrote as she waited to board a red-eye flight for home. "For me, golf is a continual process of evaluation, work, and improvement. There is no destination.
"My ball striking is my strength and I had not been hitting the ball well. I was able to stop by Stanford to see my swing coach in between the last two events. She gave me a few pointers to get me back on track and working on the right things. ... I feel confident that I am working on the right things to continue to improve my game. I am looking forward to a year on the Symetra Tour to keep developing all areas of my game."