Casey Danielson viewed her golf career in stages.

Step one was playing college golf. If you’ve been a national champion for four years in a row, as you were from 2009 to 2012, the colleges will be calling. The Osceolan native attended Stanford, where she received numerous awards, including membership on the 2015 NCAA championship team and all PAC-12 senior teams honoring her senior year.

The second step was to get professional, which happened in December 2017 when she joined the Ladies European Tour. The following January she became a member of the Symetra Tour, the development tour of the Ladies Professional Golf Association.

In the previous three seasons, Danielson had several top 10 finishes, but no wins.

Until that year when she had two wins and six top 10 finishes.

These results earned Danielson the third highest cash amount on the Symetra Tour in 2021, making her third step in her career possible: becoming an LPGA Tour membership in 2022.

The Symetra Tour awards LPGA Tour membership annually to the best players on their Race for the Card money list.

The 26-year-old said she didn’t want to look too far ahead, but after her second victory at the Donald Ross Classic in Indiana in July, the chances of the card increased dramatically. It became official at the end of September before the end of the season.

“It was a feeling of relief and excitement,” she said when she got the news. It also enabled her to pay tribute to the final events of the Symetra tour.

“I’ve made a lot of friends on the tour over the past four years,” she said. “I wanted to soak it up and appreciate where I was.”

Danielson won’t be a complete newcomer to the LPGA Tour season. She played on sponsorship release at Green Bay in 2017 and the Cambia Portland Classic in 2020.

She also took part in what is arguably the biggest event on the tour, the US Women’s Open.

“It’s definitely an upscale event,” she said. “The experience, hospitality, courses and notoriety it gets on Golf Channel.”

One of the big changes for Danielson in 2022 is the requirement for a caddy. The Symetra Tour doesn’t require a caddy, but it did have friends, boyfriends, or her swing trainer on her pocket.

“It will be an exciting addition to the team,” she said. In addition to having an obvious knowledge of the game of golf, she will be looking for someone who can chat and also give a calming voice.

The official LPGA 2022 schedule won’t be released until later this month, but the first three events of the 2021 season took place in Florida before heading to California. The closest events to Osceola took place in Michigan and Ohio in 2021.

“I love coming home to the Midwest,” said Danielson, having an apartment in the Twin Cities. With so much on the go, the normality of an off-season is appreciated, she added.

The Symetra season 2021

Her first win came in May at the Symetra Classic in North Carolina. She started the final lap with multiple shots from the lead and was even three back before starting her final nine.

“I didn’t even think about winning,” she explained.

Her plans quickly changed when she stepped into a playoff with Fatima Fernandez Cano, her best friend on the tour. She won a birdie on the second playoff hole.

“When I play well, my putting really clicks,” she explained. “Hitting the ball is one of the strengths of my game. I rely on being strong from the tee and on my iron game. ”

She won her second victory in July at the Donald Ross Classic in Indiana, which she won in one fell swoop. The three-under-68 final round included an eagle on the 11th par 4.

Danielson described her day after completing the round, which is “a completely different experience than you think”.

After talking to the media, Danielson had to drive two hours from French Lick to Indianapolis as she had to fly to New York for the next tournament next week at 6am on Monday. Hotel rooms were scarce in the Indianapolis area that night, so it was after 9 p.m. before she went to bed for a 4 a.m. wake-up call.

For example, the win in North Carolina was followed by an eight-hour drive and playing in the training round the following Tuesday.

“Life goes on,” she said, noting that you can’t party too much on tour. “It’s a good learning experience that I’m happy about.”

Danielson said that for the last nine of those two rounds she hadn’t looked at the leaderboard to see where she stood on par with the rest of the golfers.

“It was tough, but it worked out in my favor,” she said.

A key to her success this year, she believes, has been her relationship with Texas golf psychologist Deborah Graham.

“That’s the biggest part of professional golf and what makes people special,” she says of how professionals deal with the mental challenges that come with each round.

“She helped me do my best,” she added, noting that she had her best mental game in the two weeks she won.

However, she believes this was not her best tournament of the year. In last month’s Tour Championship, Danielson did four rounds in the 1960s with no 72-hole bogies but finished second.

“It was pretty flawless golf and a lot of fun,” she said.