Back to the Darius

Commodores making ninth straight appearance in Rucker Intercollegiate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Vanderbilt women’s golf team will face another tremendous challenge this week when it competes in the ninth annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

The Commodores, ranked No. 22 in the latest Golfstat poll, look to improve off their fifth-place team finish at the 2019 Rucker Intercollegiate. Play starts Friday with the first of three rounds at prestigious Long Cove Club.

The Vanderbilt lineup features senior Abbey Carlson, juniors Morgan Baxendale and Louise Yu, sophomore Auston Kim and freshman Tess Davenport.

The Commodores are paired with Georgia and North Carolina on Friday. They will start off No. 1 starting at 8:20 a.m. CT.

To Vanderbilt head coach Greg Allen, the trip to Hilton Head is an annual highlight, though the Rucker Intercollegiate always features top-notch competition.

“The Darius quickly became one of our favorite tournaments. That goes back to the first day the tournament began,” Allen said. “Playing Long Cove Club is a real treat for us and it’s a course that never lets up. It requires that you think your way around it and really great ball striking. I know our girls are ready to get back out there and play against another really great field.”

The Commodores hope to rebound off their most recent performance. Making their first appearance in the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in Southern California in February, the Commodores struggled to solve a difficult Palos Verdes Golf Club, finishing the tournament in 15th place.

None of Vanderbilt’s top student-athletes played well, with four teammates – Baxendale, Carlson, Kim and Yu ­­­– finishing with 14-over-par totals after 54 holes.

Vanderbilt started the 2019-20 campaign impressively, earning a runaway victory in the season-opening Cougar Classic, The team returned to Middle Tennessee to finish second in its own Mason Rudolph Championships at the Vanderbilt Legends North Course.

The early-season successes helped two top Commodores, Carlson and Kim, become the first Vanderbilt players to earn invitations to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, scheduled April 1-4 in Augusta, Georgia.

While Kim captured medalist honors at the Cougar Classic and Carlson finished second at the Mason Rudolph Championships, Yu has arguably been the Commodores’ most consistent performer this season. She has three top-20 individual finishes, including a runner-up result at the Cougar Classic and eighth-place finish at the Battle at the Beach.

A Stellar Rucker Intercollegiate Field

The Rucker Intercollegiate, co-hosted by the popular singer and South Carolina alum, is loaded with talent. All 17 teams entered currently rank inside Golfstat’s top 50.

Twelve teams are among Golfstat’s top-25 squads: No. 1 Texas, No. 4 South Carolina, No. 6 Duke, No. 7 Wake Forest, No. 12 LSU, No. 13 Alabama, No. 14 UCLA, No. 18 Arkansas, No. 19 Auburn, No. 20 Baylor, No. 21 Florida State and Vanderbilt.

A loaded field will chase the Rucker Intercollegiate medalist crown. Forty-one of Golfstat’s top-100 individuals are entered, including Vanderbilt’s Yu and Kim. Six of the top 10 players currently in Division 1 – Ingrid Lindblad of LSU, Kaitlyn Papp and Sophie Guo of Texas, Pau Roussin-Bouchard of South Carolina, Emma Spitz of UCLA and Ana Belac of Duke  – are expected to compete.

More on the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate

The tournament is one of the most respected events in collegiate women’s golf. The Rucker is renowned for its hospitality and pre-tournament activities, which traditionally include a concert by the tournament host.

The Rucker enters its ninth year at Long Cove Club, one of the top venues on Hilton Head Island, known worldwide for its collection of challenging golf courses. Pete Dye and his wife, Alice, designed the course in 1982, immediately after finishing the famed TPC Sawgrass course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, which annually hosts the PGA Players Championship.

Located on the inland shores of Hilton Head, the course’s par-71 layout measures up to 6,266 yards for the tournament. Traditionally, cool temperatures and windy conditions at the Rucker Intercollegiate force difficult playing conditions.

How Vanderbilt Has Fared in the Rucker Intercollegiate
Vanderbilt is seeking its first Darius Rucker Intercollegiate championship trophy and its fifth top-five team result.

The Commodores contended for the team title in the first three editions of the Rucker, earning back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2013 and 2014 after a third-place result in 2012’s inaugural tournament. Last year, the Commodores earned a fifth-place tie with Auburn with a 54-hole total of 882.

Individually, six Commodores have notched top-10 finishes: Courtney Zeng (T-10th in 2019), Alexandra Farnsworth, (T-2nd in 2016); Simin Feng (T-3rd in 2014); Kendall Martindale (T-5th in 2013), Irina Gabasa (T-9th in 2013) and Marina Alex (T-10th in 2012).