Symetra Tour professional Daniela Iacobelli has the picture. It was fifth grade and she had to dress up as the “person you want to be when you grow up.” Easy choice for her, she dressed up as 48-time LPGA Tour winner Nancy Lopez.
This week at the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial in Fort Myers, Iacobelli and the 144 players in the Symetra Tour field have a chance to play alongside Lopez and the 30 Legends Tour players.
“She is my idol, someone I have always looked up,” said Iacobelli, who finished in a tie for 13th at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic.
Iacobelli is not alone in having an idol in the field this week.
Jennifer Neville’s mentor is Hollis Stacy, Augusta James has a relationship with Gail Graham, Ani Gulugian’s 2009 Junior Solheim Cup captain was Lopez and the first golfer Lacey Agnew ever met was Lopez.
Agnew, who is from Jonesboro, Georgia, remembers going to an LPGA Tour event about 14 years ago by her house that was sponsored by Chick-Fil-A. Through a connection, Agnew had the chance to go into the players locker room to meet Lopez.
“I still have the signature I got that day from Nancy,” said Agnew. “Years later, when I turned professional, I met up with her at a Chick-Fil-A pro-am and we reconnected. She’s given me several putting lessons and shared her knowledge of the game with me.”Us
Emily Childs is looking forward to reconnecting with Jan Stephenson, who she played with in San Francisco through a mutual friend.
“She is super kind and a really, really good player,” said Childs, who played college golf at the University of California. “She gave me some good tips about playing on tour and stories about some of the greats she got to play with.”
In 2005, Ulrika Van-Niekerk of Cape Town, South Africa was a standard bearer at the Women’s World Cup of Golf in George, South Africa. Her assignment was the USA team of Meg Mallon/Beth Daniel against the eventual winning Japanese team headlined by Ai Miyazato.
Years later, at 2012 LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Van-Niekerk had the shafts of her clubs changed out by LPGA Club Repair expert Paul Boehmer and she received Meg Mallon’s shafts.
Thought that would be the end? Nope.
Brittany Benvenuto, who played at the University of Arizona, played a practice round on Monday with Christa Johnson, who also played at Arizona. They actually take lessons from the same coach in Tucson, Susie Meyers.
Tracy Stanford’s mothers’ family used to live in Roswell, New Mexico, the home of Lopez.
“My grandparents were golfers and my grandmother remembers playing with Nancy Lopez once when she was little,” said Stanford. “She would mention that Nancy was always out practicing with her father at the little nine hole course in town.”
This week is clearly special in many ways.
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