Brynn Walker and Erica Herr, with four PIAA individual championships between them, got off to decent starts Friday in a star-studded field as the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate got under way at the Long Cove Club at Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Walker, a two-time state champion at Radnor, is a freshman at North Carolina while Herr, a two-time state champion at Council Rock North, is a junior at Wake Forest. Each carded a 2-over-par 73 at the 6,218-yard, par-71 Long Cove layout and are tied for 21st in the individual standings. Walker and the Tar Heels, No. 34 in the latest Golfstat rankings, and Herr and the 11th-ranked Demon Deacons are also deadlocked in the team standings, two of the four teams tied for ninth at 12-over 296.
No. 5 Alabama, with two players among the four-way logjam at the top of the leaderboard, surged to the team lead with a 2-under 282 total. The Crimson Tide are four shots ahead of No. 18 Duke, which posted a 2-over 286. No. 10 Arizona State is third at 4-over 288, No. 14 South Carolina is fourth at 5-over 289, No. 19 Baylor is fifth at 7-over 291, No. 6 Georgia is sixth at 8-over 292, No. 32 Tennessee is seventh at 9-over 293 and No. 55 Vanderbilt is eighth at 10-over 294.
Joining North Carolina and Wake Forest in the tie for ninth at 296 are No. 16 Oklahoma State and No. 68 LSU.
Alabama was led by Kristen Gillman, a freshman from Austin, Texas, and Cheyenne Knight, a sophomore from Aledo, Texas, both of whom carded a 3-under 68.
Gillman won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Naussau Country Club on Long Island as a 16-year-old and it seemed just a matter of time before the Tide’s prize recruit would start to feel comfortable at the college level. Both Gillman and Knight reached the second round of match play at last summer’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club.
Joining Gillman and Knight at 3-under 68 are Arizona State’s Sophia Zeeb, a junior from Germany, and Duke’s Gurbani Singh, a junior from India.
Georgia’s Rinko Mitsunaga, a sophomore from Roswell, Ga., is alone in fifth place after posting a 2-under 69. Mitsunaga qualified for match play at Rolling Green.
Also for Alabama, Lauren Stephenson, a sophomore from Lexington, S.C., matched par with a 71 and is tied for ninth and Lakareber Abe, a junior from Angleton, Texas had a 75 and is tied for 44th. Stephenson also earned a spot in the match-play bracket at Rolling Green.
North Carolina was led by Kelly Whaley, a sophomore from Farmington, Conn. who matched par with a 71 and is in the group with Stephenson tied for ninth. Whaley also qualified for match play at Rolling Green.
After Walker’s 73, the Tar Heels got a 75 from Bryana Nguyen, a junior from Columbia, Md. who is tied for 44th, and 77s from Leslie Cloots, a senior from Belgium, and Lexi Harkins, a junior from Crystal Lake, Ill., leaving them in a group tied for 59th.
Herr’s 73 was matched by Antonia Eberhard, a sophomore from Germany, as they set the pace for Wake Forest. Sierra Sims, a senior from Austin, Texas, was a shot back in a tie for 36th with a 74. Jennifer Kupcho, a sophomore from Littleton, Colo. and one of the top freshmen in the country a year ago, struggled to a 76 and is tied for 56th. And Mathilda Cappeliez, a freshman from France, is tied for 83rd after an 82.
Sims also reached the match-play bracket at Rolling Green while Cappeliez made it all the way to the semifinals, the second straight year she reached the semis in the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Look for better things from Cappeliez as she adjusts to the college golf scene.