HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - Some of the nation’s best college golfers and teams have made their way to Hilton Head Island once again to chase one of the game’s most sought after titles.
Things have teed off at the 9th annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at the Long Cove Club. Ten of the top 20 teams in the country highlights this year’s field, including the top ranked Texas Longhorns and defending national champion Duke Blue Devils.
It’s the strength of that field tournament officials believe keep the teams and the crowds coming back every year.
“It’s been said that next to the NCAA Championships, this may be the best field in women’s college golf. And we’re very proud of that," says Long Cove Club head professional Bob Patton. "I think the reputation of the event has gotten to where if you can win and beat this field, then you’re a force to be reckoned with.”
Patton says that strong field and the attention that comes with the top teams and players in the college game has made the tournament one of the nation’s biggest showcases for women’s college golf.
“Believe me, these girls can absolutely play. It is a high level of quality golf. And it’s fun to watch,” Patton says. "They’re exceptional players. You can learn a thing or two coming out and watching these girls, I can promise you.”
First round play wrapped up Friday afternoon with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons jumping out to an early lead. The Deacs fired a three-over 287 on Friday, five shots better than UCLA.
Wake was led by freshman Rachel Kuehn. The Asheville, NC native fired four birdies in the opening round and leads individually by one stroke at -2.
Host South Carolina is tied for 11th after the first round. The fourth-ranked Gamecocks are +19, 16 shots back of Wake.
TEAM LEADERBOARD (after Round 1)
1. Wake Forest +3 287
2. UCLA +8 292
T3. Auburn +10 294
T3. Baylor +10 294
T3. Texas +10 294
6. North Carolina +12 296
T7. LSU +15 299
T7. Duke +15 299
9. Arkansas +16 300
10. Vanderbilt +18 302
T11. South Carolina +19 303
T11. Furman _+19 303
13. Florida State +20 304
14. Virginia +24 308
T15. Alabama +27 311
T15. Northwestern +27 311
T15. Georgia +27 311