BEAUMONT, Calif. — Casey Danielson rolled into southern California for this week's IOA Championship at Tukwet Canyon Golf Club with the idea of moving closer to graduating to the LPGA Tour in 2021. It's becoming a very real possibility.
Coming off the best finish of her Symetra Tour career at last week's Founders Tribute in Mesa, Ariz., the Osceola native moved up 87 spots on the Volvik Race for the Card money list to No. 8 in the standings. Because COVID-19 reduced the 2020 Symetra Tour schedule from 16 events to nine, however, it prompted the LPGA's developmental tour to pare the number of 2020 graduates from 10 to five. The IOA Championship is the fourth tournament on the schedule.
That makes Sunday a very significant day in Danielson's career.
For the second week in a row, the four-time WIAA Division 2 state champion is in position to chase down her first Symetra Tour victory. This time, she did it by shooting her second straight 3-under-par 69 to get to 6-under 138 and within three strokes of second-round leader Fatima Fernandez Cano (70-65) entering Sunday's final round.
Meanwhile, Madison native Tess Hackworthy has already made the IOA Championship one she will always remember. The former Madison Edgewood and University of Wisconsin golfer overcame a pair of double-bogeys in the second round with birdies at Nos. 3 and 16 and, at 2-over 146, made her first Symetra Tour cut on the number.
“I was excited to be in contention last week and have a chance for a win," Danielson said earlier this week. "I really like where my game is at and hope to continue playing solid this week in Beaumont. It is fun to see my name near the top of the Volvik Race for the Card, but there is a lot of golf left this season."
Less than $3,000 separates Danielson ($10,764) from fourth place in the standings. Most of that came last week when Danielson shot a pair of career-low 65s around a second-round 72 and came within a shot of winning the tournament.
This week, Danielson has worked her way toward the top of the leaderboard by minimizing her mistakes. She has made four birdies and one bogey in each of the first two rounds, climbing into the top five Saturday by birdieing two of her last three holes.
Cano is one of the golfers immediately ahead of Danielson in the Volvik Race for the Card. Kim Kaufman, No. 5 on the money list, is one shot behind Danielson with 18 holes to play.
Danielson, however, holds to a personal rule of not looking at anyone who doesn't control what she's doing and that figures to be her approach again Sunday.
"I hope to keep learning about my game and improving this season," Danielson said entering the week.