Alabama Women’s Golf Coach Mic Potter didn’t like what he was seeing early in the Crimson Tide’s final round of the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at Hilton Head Island, S.C., Sunday, but by the end of the day he had a championship team and a freshman individual champion.
Potter’s concerns proved to be unfounded as fourth-ranked Alabama moved out to as much as a 10-stroke advantage and finished with a comfortable 7-shot win. Bama had a 54-hole total of 868 (15-over-par) including an 8-over 292 on Sunday.
Additionally, freshman Cheyenne Knight was even-par 213 for the tournament to earn medalist honor. It was the first college tournament crown of her career.
"It was a little bit of a rough start," Coach Mic Potter said. "We three-putted a couple times early and Emma Talley double-bogeyed No. 3. It always worries me when she's not in the ballgame for us. But she battled back and made a couple of birdies, so we had five girls all playing fairly well. Nicole Morales' final round of even par was really big for us, and then Cheyenne winning the tournament. I can't say enough about those two."
The championship was Alabama’s second tournament victory on the season and first of the spring. The Tide began the 2015-16 season by winning the Mason Rudolph Women’s Championship in Franklin, Tenn. Sophomore Lakareber Abe was also the individual champion at the event. Alabama has now won the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate three times (previously in 2012, and 2013).
Knight was even through the first nine and moved to 1-under with a birdie on hole No. 10. She bogeyed No. 14 and No. 18 to drop to even for the weekend, but hung on for the individual title by one stroke.
"I was definitely feeling the pressure," Knight said. "I just tried to say focused, take it one shot at a time. I can't control what the other competitors are doing. I really just tried to stay in the moment and not get too ahead of myself. I really hit some good shots and good putts on the back nine."
Just as she did for Alabama at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Championship, sophomore Nicole Morales came through with her best round on the final day, turning in an even 71. That was the best round by a Tide player on Sunday.
Senior Janie Jackson shot a 3-over 74 for the final 18 holes, while Abe came through with a 4-over 75. Senior Emma Talley had two double bogeys on the round but managed to finish with a 5-over 76.
On the individual leaderboard, Talley ended up tied for 13th at 6-over 219. Morales was one stroke behind her to tie for 17th, the first time she has finished inside the top 20 of her collegiate event, while Abe and Jackson were two of three players to tie for 23rd at 221 (+8).
No. 32 Virginia placed second with a 54-hole score of 23-over 875. No. 2 Duke surged up the leaderboard to finish third at 878 (+26). No. 10 Oklahoma State took fourth at 879 and No. 45 North Carolina rounded out the top five at 881.
Alabama will now have three weeks off before heading to Athens, Ga., for the 2016 Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic, which begins Friday, April 1 and will be contested on the UGA Golf Course.