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March 5, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 2 South Carolina is set to host the fourth annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Known as one of the premiere events in collegiate golf, play is set to begin on Friday. The 54-hole event runs through Sunday on the Pete Dye Course at Long Cove Club, which features a par-71, 6,142-yard layout.

Dates: Fri., Mar. 6 – Sun., Mar. 8
Location: Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Course: Long Cove Club, Pete Dye Course
Format: 54-hole stroke play
The Lineup: Justine Dreher, Sarah Schmelzel, Katelyn Dambaugh, Mary Fran Hillow, Jia Xin Yang
The Field: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona St., Auburn, Duke, Furman, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, North Carolina, Mississippi St., South Carolina, Southern Cal, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wake Forest
Live Scoring: GolfStat

Tournament Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Singer/songwriter Darius Rucker, Long Cove and South Carolina partner to host the event. Rucker, who is a South Carolina graduate and avid Gamecock supporter, is currently an award-winning country artist. He is also well known for his time as the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish.

On a run of 12-straight regular-season top-5 finishes, the Gamecocks face a stiff test at their home event. The field of 17 accounts for 11 of the last 14 NCAA champions and features 12 of the top 20 teams in this week’s Golfstat Relative Rankings. Ten of the nation’s top 15 individuals will also be on display at Long Cove. After falling to just three opponents all of last fall, South Carolina finished fourth at the Florida State Match-Up to open the spring. This weekend, the Gamecocks will face all three teams – Furman, Virginia and Mississippi State – that bested them three weeks ago in Tallahassee. All six teams that have finished ahead of South Carolina during the 2014-15 season will be at the event.

Senior Justine Dreher is in the lineup’s top spot. Dreher is followed by junior Sarah Schmelzel, sophomore Katelyn Dambaugh, junior Mary Fran Hillow and sophomore Jia Xin Yang. Freshman Ainhoa Olarra will play as an individual after making her debut in the lineup at the spring opener.

“There are so many factors (that make this event special). First of all, Daruis Rucker is a huge draw,” South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris said of the team’s home event. “What he does for USC and the game golf, he’s just a great ambassador for both. He’s an excitement to have. That helps draw the teams in. the Long Cove Club runs an amazing venue and event. It’s first class from top to bottom from when you get there to the final trophy presentation. We’re excited, we’ve got 17 top teams there from around the country. Everybody is fired up for the [Darius Rucker] concert to playing the course. It’s just an incredible event.

After finishing eighth in the inaugural Darius Rucker Intercollegiate in 2012 and 11th the following season, the Gamecocks posted their best finish at Long Cove last season, taking fifth. Justine Dreher was the top finisher for South Carolina in 2014, tying for 12th with a 54-hole total of 219 (76-71-72, +6)

“On that golf course, it’s tough. The conditions are usually windy and cold in March off the intracoastal waterway,” Harris added. “It will be a lot of patience this week, staying out of our own way, worrying about ourselves, not beating ourselves and just letting our results happen. After that, the rest of the teams are going to have to deal with that venue, which is difficult. We just need to be patient and accepting out there. If we can play our Gamecock golf, we’ll have a successful week.”

The Gamecocks opened their spring schedule with a fourth-place finish at the Florida State Match-Up to extend their streak of regular-season top-five finishes to 12, dating back to September of 2013. In Tallahassee, Dreher posted her third top-five individual result of the season, carding rounds of 72-72-73=217 (+1) to finish tied for fifth and recorded the first eagle of South Carolina’s spring. Schmelzel returned from an injury that kept her out for the entirety of the fall season to post a top-10 finish at the event, finishing just one stroke behind Dreher at 2-over.