Ann Arbor – Daniela Iacobelli might not be a household name, but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t do something to bring awareness to ovarian cancer.
The LPGA golfer who grew up in Clinton Township recently felt the effect of the disease when the mother of her childhood friend, a woman she claimed as her “second mother,” died after battling the form of cancer that causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
Donna Green was the mother of Iacobelli’s best friend, Andrew Green. They grew up together in the suburb of Detroit before the Green family moved to Florida. When Iacobelli was 11, her family also headed south and, completely by chance, lived a mile from the Greens.
The friends were reunited and have remained close since. And while Iacobelli has been pursuing her career as a professional golfer after a standout career at Florida Institute of Technology, Andrew Green is back in Detroit as the manager of event services for the Detroit Sports Commission.
The funeral for Donna Green brought them all back together, and it sparked the idea in Iacobelli’s head to bring awareness to the disease. So heading into this week’s Volvik Championship, she made nearly 300 teal ribbons and asked her fellow LPGA Tour players to wear them during the second round on Friday.
“I was texting them last night during coverage,” Iacobelli said, “and they were like, ‘Oh my God, Lydia Ko is wearing a ribbon.’ So it was really special to be able to do that for someone, because I feel like that's what professional sports enables you to do, and it was really neat to do that. It was special.”
It’s been as special week all the way around for Iacobelli. Andrew Green is in Ann Arbor with his father, Jim, and they’ve been following Iacobelli the entire tournament. That’s nothing new for the family that has always supported her.
“Every week (Jim) was sending me messages, ‘Keep your head up, keep going. We're rooting for you, we're cheering for you,’” Iacobelli said. “So I was like, ‘I know it's not much but if I can pull this off, would you be able to be there?’ And he started crying, they both started to cry, and I was like, ‘All right, I have to make it (happen).’”
It proved to be a success as many of the players were still wearing the ribbons in the third round on Saturday. It was a round Iacobelli finished with a birdie at 18 to sit at 2-over for the tournament.
She won’t win, but it’s still been a good week considering she missed seven straight cuts entering the Volvik. It’s the life for a player trying to establish herself. Iacobelli has had her share of success, finishing fourth on the Symetra Tour last season to earn her LPGA card and she hopes playing near her hometown helps.
Her father, Grazio, is back in Clinton Township these days and Iacobelli takes advantage.
“I actually use him as my Midwest hub when we start doing all these (tournaments),” Iacobelli said. “He has a whole bunch of stuff at his house that I keep unloading, and yes, it is fun to hang out there.”
It will be fun to have support, too, especially when it comes among close friends leaning on each other during tough times.
“Hopefully they'll come back tomorrow and finish it out,” Iacobelli said of Andrew Green and his father. “Maybe they will be a good luck charm.”
‘Orange Out for ChadTough!’
There was a distinctive look around Travis Pointe Country Club on Saturday as the third round of the Volvik Championship was an “Orange Out for ChadTough!”
It’s also a chance for the ChadTough Foundation to team with the tournament in an effort to raise funds and awareness for the foundation that was formed after Chad Carr – grandson of former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr -- died at the age of 5 in November after battling a rare, aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
The tournament sold special ChadTough Orange Ticket packages and donated $10 from the sale of each $30 Orange Ticket directly to the ChadTough Foundation.
Amy Yang and Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras shot 5-under 67, the best score in the third round. Both are 5-under for the tournament and enter the final round six shots off the lead.
… Kim Kaufman had the roller-coaster round of the day. She shot 3-under 69 with two eagles, three birdies and four bogeys.