Minnesota Golf Association

Darling Leads South Carolina to Early Lead at ANNIKA Intercollegiate; Gophers 12th After Day One

September 13, 2021

By Nick Hunter
  LAKE ELMO, Minn. – Highlighted by a string of three birdies during her front nine Monday, University of South Carolina golfer Hannah Darling began her collegiate career by posting a bogey-free 66 to lead the 2021 ANNIKA Intercollegiate presented by 3M at Royal Golf Club.
Darling and teammate Worapitcha Anudit’s 4-under 68 helped the Gamecocks, currently ranked No. 2 by Golfweek, to a sizeable seven-stroke lead over Duke University following Monday’s opening round.
“I was pretty nervous on the first hole, but I felt like I got off to a good start and played really well,” said Darling, a native of Midlothian, Scotland. “I was hitting it good and missed a few putts out there today that I should’ve holed, but overall, I was really solid.
“The main thing about this course is that the greens are really tricky out here. As long as you stay quite steady on the greens, you’ll be fine and I did that today. Any round where you have a few birdies in a row, it gives you a bit of confidence. I tried to let it happen and stayed patient.”
While Darling steps foot at Royal Golf Club for the first time as a collegiate golfer, she enters the week coming off a successful performance at the Curtis Cup in late August in Wales, going 2-1-2 in a losing effort for Team Great Britain and Ireland. She’s also represented Europe in the Junior Solheim Cup and twice captured the Scottish Girls’ Amateur Championship.
Beginning her round by carding a birdie at the second Monday, Darling quickly climbed the leaderboard by rolling in three consecutive birdie chances beginning at the fifth, including a 20-foot bender at the sixth, to get to 4-under for the championship.
In control of her iron game all round, Darling hit her approach inside of four feet at the par-4 11th and converted her fifth birdie of the round before closing out her first collegiate round with a two-putt birdie at the 18th to pace the field with a 6-under 66.
“I’ve been playing well all summer, so I’m just trying to continue that form,” said Darling, currently ranked No. 25 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. “Whenever you start a new chapter or journey, it’s easy to let expectations get the better of you. I’ve got a great team here supporting me this week, so it was an amazing start as a Gamecock.”
South Carolina won the inaugural championship in 2014 and looks to build on a seventh-place finish in 2019. Last year’s championship was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
“It was a good, solid day and we played really steady,” South Carolina head coach Kalen Anderson said Monday. “We started out well, had a few hiccups with a couple doubles and a triple, but they didn’t really flinch. Obviously, we had a couple players get it going with [Darling and Anudit] making some birdies and going low, which was nice having them leading the way. Everybody fought hard until the end and we took advantage of some of the scorable holes here.
“It was a fun day and nice to get out of the gate for our first tournament. I told them last night that we’re a great team, and this is a process through the whole year, but our expectation is to keep progressing. We can win this event, but we’ve got to keep the pedal down. This is an elite field.”
Host school University of Minnesota finished the first round with a team tally of 305 to sit 12th with 36 holes left to play. The Gophers were led by newcomer Geraldine Wong, who carded a 1-over 73 Monday to finish the first 18 holes of competition in a tie for 25th.
“Obviously, performance-wise we wanted to do more,” Gopher head coach Rhyll Brinsmead said Monday. “We had expectations that we post a number under 298 to be able to compete, overall. We just weren’t sharp. We’ve been playing out here the past few weeks, which is a huge advantage, but there were certain times we didn’t execute a game plan that we had talked about."
Beginning her first full season at Minnesota, Brinsmead was encouraged following Monday’s first round and asserted to her squad that what they do over the next 36 holes is what will matter the most.
“I just got done talking with the team and told the team that they can hit the ball as well as anyone out here, but if you don’t execute, it doesn’t matter how much preparation you have. Sticking with the game plan and not letting emotions get in the way.”
Minnesota Golf Association Women’s Match Play Champion Joanne Free birdied three of her final six holes Monday to contribute with a round of 4-over 76, while Emma Carpenter and Grace Curran got off to a nervy start by posting rounds of 77 and 79, respectively.
“It’s encouraging to shoot 305 and have two of our best players, Grace and Emma, shoot well above their average from last year. It does matter what they do next, but we’re building towards May and they understand we’re taking steps forward.
“I think we have a team that can be highly competitive and we need to go out tomorrow and relax a little bit. Total nerves—everyone is making bogeys on one, two and three. It’s golf and you’ve got opportunities ahead of you, so just keep grinding.”
The second round of the 2021 ANNIKA Intercollegiate presented by 3M gets underway Tuesday at 8 a.m. at Royal Golf Club.
6,410 YARDS, PAR 72
1. South Carolina – 278
2. Duke – 285
3. Wake Forest – 286
T4. Arizona State – 287
T4. Southern California – 287
T4. UCLA – 287
7. Ole Miss – 290
T8. Texas – 291
T8. Alabama – 291
10. Arizona – 292
11. LSU – 297
12. MINNESOTA – 305
1. Hannah Darling, South Carolina, 32-34—66
2. Julia Johnson, Ole Miss, 36-31—67
T3. YuSang Hou, Arizona, 35-33—68
T3. Benedetta Moresco, Alabama, 36-32—68  
T3. Cindy Kou, USC, 34-34—68
T3. Worapitcha Anudit, South Carolina, 34-34—68
T3. Erica Shepherd, Duke, 35-33—68
T8. Katherine Muzi, Southern California, 36-33—69
T8. Lauren Walsh, Wake Forest, 36-33—69
T8. Caroline Canales, UCLA, 37-32—69
T8. Calynne Rosholt, Arizona St., 36-33—69
For complete tournament results go to:  http://results.golfstat.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=23847

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