Stephens paces Longhorns on soaked course in Carolina

Blake McAdow

Junior Haley Stephens led Texas at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate in difficult conditions, finishing 17th and 7-over (149), only 12 shots off the lead. Stephens played well on her first nine holes Sunday, shooting seven pars and two birdies, with no bogeys.

Stephens becomes the third different Longhorn to lead the team at a tournament this year.

At a South Carolina course known for its spectacular holes and beautiful views, Saturday’s rain storms shortened play from 54 to 36 holes. Texas was able to fight back on Sunday to finish 11th overall as a team, shooting 49-over (617). No. 2 Alabama led a balanced attack and dominated the field, beating out North Carolina by 11 strokes for the team title. The Crimson Tide also took the top two spots individually.

Texas found itself in a deep hole midway through the second round before play was suspended at Long Cove Club in South Carolina. The stoppage of play may have been a blessing for the Longhorns, who struggled to start Saturday’s round, dropping from 11th to 14th place.

“You have to remind them of the weather conditions so they don’t get frustrated and they just focus on the task at hand,” Longhorns head coach Martha Richards said.

This is the second tournament in a row that Texas has fallen in the standings on the second day of play. In February, Texas opened the UCF Challenge in contention, but needed 14 strokes more to finish the second round, dropping five spots in the standings. Similar to this weekend, the Longhorns were able to fight back on the final day to improve their overall finish as a team.

“I think the biggest challenge is your tournament toughness, and your focus, in competitive rounds and that’s what we’ve tried to work in our competitive rounds,” said Richards.

Texas has just two tournaments remaining before the crucial Big 12 Championships in April.