HILTON HEAD, S.C. -- Freshman Haylee Harford (+2) carded a 74 to tie for 31st place to lead the 27th-ranked Furman women's golf team in the opening day of the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at the par 71, 6,243 yard Long Cove Club in Hilton Head, S.C.
Harford, a native of Leavittsburg, Ohio, birdied No. 7 for an even front nine to finish the round seven strokes back of leaders Cheyenne Knight (-4) of Alabama, Alexandra Farnsworth (-4) of Vanderbilt, and Lauren Coughlin (-4) of Virginia, who each shot a 67 to open the tournament.
Junior Taylor Totland (+5) and sophomore Alice Chen (+5) are tied for 50th entering Saturday's second round after scoring a 76 on Friday. The Paladin duo each notched a team-high three birdies in first-round play. Senior Valentina Romero (+6) is tied for 57 after birdieing No. 2 and carding a 77 in Friday's round, while sophomore Reona Hirai (+7) is tied for 68th with an opening-round 78.
No. 4 Alabama (-6) leads the field by three strokes after firing an opening round 278. 32nd-ranked Virginia (-3) is in second, followed by No. 42 Vanderbilt (-2). Third-ranked Arkansas (+5) is fourth, while No. 45 North Carolina (+6) completes the top five. Top-ranked Southern California (+13) is in ninth place, followed by second-ranked Duke (+15) in 10th. The Paladins (+19) are tied for 13th with LSU (+19), Mississippi State (+19), and host South Carolina (+19), who is ranked 37th nationally. Eleven of the 17 teams competing at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate qualified for the 2015 NCAA Championships, and eight schools in the field have won a tournament this season.
"Today was a tough round for our team, with cold and breezy conditions," said Furman head coach Kelley Hester, who is in her fourth year at the helm of the Paladin program. "We got off to a rough start and just never rebounded. A few teams played great, but overall the scores were on the higher side for such a strong field. We will need to rally but should be able to improve the next two days."
Second round play of the 54-hole tournament, which features seven teams ranked in the top 25 in the latest Golfstat poll, including each of the country's top five programs, begins Saturday at 8:30 a.m. The tournament will conclude on Sunday.
The Paladins tee off of No. 10 at 9:20 a.m. on Saturday. Admission to the tournament is free and fans are welcome. Live tournament scoring will also be available via www.golfstat.com.
Julie Paré, Furman Sports Information
T13 Furman 303 +19
T31 Haylee Harford 74 +3
T50 Taylor Totland 76 +5
T50 Alice Chen 76 +5
T57 Valentina Romero 77 +6
T68 Reona Hirai 78 +7