A couple of the perennial powers in women’s college golf, Alabama and Duke, head into the final round of the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at the Long Cove Club tied at the top of the team standings after a breezy Saturday on Hilton Head Island, S.C. made for some tough scoring conditions.
The Crimson Tide, No. 5 in the latest Golfstat rankings, had held the lead after an opening round of 2-under 282, but no team was going under par on this day. Alabama added a 291 for a 5-over 573. No. 18 Duke had the day’s best round, a 3-over 287, to catch the Tide at 573.
The two Philadelphia area players in the field, Wake Forest junior Erica Herr, a two-time PIAA champion at Council Rock North, and North Carolina freshman Brynn Walker, a two-time PIAA champion at Radnor, struggled in the tough conditions. Herr’s 4-over-par 75 over the 6,218-yard, par-71 Long Cove layout left her in a tie for 31st at 6-over 148. Walker’s 8-over 79 left her tied for 53rd at 10-over 152.
No. 10 Arizona State had a 288 and is third, three shots back of the co-leaders at 8-over 576. Host South Carolina, ranked 14th, had a 291 and is fourth at 12-over 580. It’s another seven shots back to two teams tied for fifth – No. 8 Georgia and No. 19 Baylor – at 19-over 587, after respective rounds of 295 and 296.
No. 6 Furman, coming off a runaway victory in the Central District Invitational in Port St. Lucie, Fla., is seventh at 582 after a 295. No. 32 Tennessee is eighth at 594 after a 301. Walker and the No. 34 Tar Heels had a 300 and are tied for ninth with No. 55 Vanderbilt, which had a 302, at 596. Herr and the No. 11 Demon Deacons struggled to a 305 and are 14th at 601.
The individual lead belongs to Alabama freshman Kristen Gillman, who won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur at age 16. Gillman, of Austin, Texas, matched par with a 71 after opening with a 68 and is at 3-under 139. Teammate Cheyenne Knight, a sophomore from Aledo, Texas, was one of three players who shared the opening-round lead with Gillman. Her 1-over 72 left her tied for second at 2-under 140.
Knight was joined at that figure by Arizona State’s Linnea Strom, a sophomore from Sweden who carded a second straight 70.
Strom’s teammate, Sophie Zeeb, a junior from Germany, is fourth at 1-under 141 after a 73. The best round of the day was recorded by Duke’s Sandy Choi, a senior from South Korea who fired a 2-under 69 and is alone in fifth place at even-par 142.
Also for Alabama, Lauren Stephenson, a sophomore from Lexington, S.C., is tied for 14th at 4-over 146 after a 75, Lakareber Abe, a junior from Angleton, Texas, is tied for 31st at 148 after posting a 73 and Mia Landegren, a senior from Bridgewater, Conn., is tied for 71st at 158 after an 80.
For Duke, Choi is backed up by Gurbani Singh, a junior from India, and the formidable Leona Maguire, a junior from Ireland and the No. 1 player in the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. Singh fell back after an opening-round 68 with a 75 and is tied for sixth at 1-over 143 while Maguire carded a second straight 72 and is tied for ninth at 2-over 144.
Also for the Blue Demons, Ana Belac, a freshman from Slovenia, matched par with a 71 and is tied for 14th at 4-over 146 and Lisa Maguire, Leona’s twin sister, had an 85 and is tied for 71st at 158. Lisa Maguire’s opening-round 73 was a counter for Duke.
Conspicuous by her absence for Duke is Virginia Elena Carta, a sophomore from Italy who is the reigning NCAA individual champion and lost a hard-fought 1-up decision to South Korea’s Eun Jeong Seong in the final of the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club last summer. Not sure what’s up there, but Duke seems to be doing OK without her at the Darius Rucker.
North Carolina was led by Kelly Whaley, a sophomore from Farmington, Conn. Whaley carded a 2-over 73 and remains in the top 10 as she is tied for ninth at 2-over 144. Lexi Harkins, a junior from Crystal Lake, Ill., had one of the day’s best rounds, a 1-under 70, and is tied for 22nd at 5-over 147.
After Walker’s 152, Leslie Coots, a senior from Belgium, is tied for 65th at 155 after a 78 and Bryana Nguyen, junior from Columbia, Md., is 74th at 159 after an 84.
A tough weekend for Herr and Demon Deacons got a little tougher when Antonia Eberhard, a sophomore from Germany, was forced to withdraw with an injury during Saturday’s second round. She had opened with a solid 73.
Leading the way for Wake Forest is Sierra Sims, a senior from Austin, Texas who had a 1-over 72 and is tied for 14th at 4-over 146. After Herr’s 148, Jennifer Kupcho, a sophomore from Littleton, Colo. and one of the top freshmen in the country a year ago, struggled to a 78 and is tied for 63rd at 154 and Mathilda Cappeliez, a freshman from France, had an 80 and is tied for 83rd at 162.
Cappeliez has made the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur each of the last two summers, so she’s a player.
Absent for the Demon Deacons is Sierra Brooks, a freshman from Sorrento, Fla. who was the runnerup to Hanna O’Sullivan in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Portland Golf Club. But it’s a pretty tough group to compete with just to get on the tournament team at Wake Forest this spring.