NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt’s nationally ranked women’s golf team will get its toughest challenge of the year this weekend when it competes in the eighth annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate on Hilton Head Island.
The Commodores, ranked seventh in the latest Golfstat.com poll, will be gunning for their third consecutive team title at the Rucker Intercollegiate, which starts Friday.
The Vanderbilt lineup features freshman Auston Kim, junior Abbey Carlson, sophomores Morgan Baxendale and Louise Yu, and senior Courtney Zeng.
Coming off recent wins at the UCF Challenge in Florida and Reynolds Lake Oconee Invitational in Georgia, the Commodores will face an extremely talented field at the Rucker Intercollegiate. Vanderbilt is one of 11 teams ranked in Golfstat’s top 25 which are expected to participate.
Head coach Greg Allen is looking forward to seeing his Commodore squad compete against many of the nation’s top teams.
“I’m really excited to see how this group handles everything this week. The Pete Dye Course at Long Cove Club is one of the best golf courses on the schedule, requiring attention to detail and focus on every single shot. It will expose any part of your game that is not sharp, so we’ll need to be very patient,” Allen said. “Additionally, this may be the strongest field in college golf until the national championships.
“My expectation this week will be the same as it is every week, focusing on hitting very committed shots, having a great attitude and giving great effort.”
The Rucker Intercollegiate, co-hosted by the popular singer and University of South Carolina alum, is loaded with talent. The 17-team field features No. 3 Duke, No. 4 UCLA, No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Vanderbilt, No. 10 South Carolina, No. 11 Auburn, No. 13 Wake Forest, No. 14 Virginia, No. 15 Northwestern, No. 16 Alabama, No. 19 Florida State and No. 23 Furman.
Vanderbilt enters the Rucker Intercollegiate in excellent form. Kim earned back-to-back SEC Freshman of the Week honors in February off top-five individual finishes at the UCF Challenge and Reynolds Lake Oconee Invitational. Carlson, named to the U.S. Arnold Palmer Cup squad earlier this week, has been superb since claiming medalist honors last September at the Mason Rudolph Championships in Franklin. Zeng is enjoying her best season, and enters the Rucker with three top-25 finishes since September. Baxendale and Yu will coming off solid performances in Vanderbilt’s two recent team victories.
The Commodores are paired with Georgia and North Carolina in the first round Friday at the par-71, 6,620-yard track. They will start off No. 1 at 8:20 a.m. CT.
The Darius Rucker Intercollegiate is renowned for its hospitality and pre-tournament activities, which include a Thursday night concert by the tournament host.
This weekend, Vanderbilt will be seeking its first Darius Rucker Intercollegiate championship trophy and its fourth 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 the 2012 inaugural tournament. Last year, the Commodores finished 11th in the final team standings.
Individually, five Commodores have notched top-10 finishes: 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).
Vanderbilt Team Results (Darius Rucker Intercollegiate)
2018 T-11 295-300-306, 901
2017 T-15 294-302-316, 912
2016 11 282-300-307, 889
2015 12 301-296-298, 905
2014 2 293-290-289, 872
2013 T-2 296-282-302, 880
2012 3 299-294, 593
Top Vanderbilt Individual Finishers (Darius Rucker Intercollegiate)
2018 Morgan Baxendale T-28. 74-73-77, 224 (+11)
Courtney Zeng T-28. 70-77-77, 224 (+11)
2017 Courtney Zeng T-38. 73-73-78, 224 (+11)
2016 Alexandra Farnsworth T-2. 67-72-75, 214 (+1)
2015 Kendall Martindale T-20. 75-75-72, 222 (+9)
2014 Simin Feng T-3. 74-69-69, 212 (-1)
2013 Kendall Martindale T-5. 73-72-72, 216 (+3)
2012 Marina Alex T-10. 76-70, 146 (+4)