The South Carolina women’s golf team concluded its fall season as the third-ranked team in the country and snatched two tournament wins in the process. The team will now train for its spring season and aim to win a national title.
After a successful 2020-2021 campaign, the team started the season ranked No. 1 in the nation, despite only three returning players from last year.
“I think it’s a really fresh group," head coach Kalen Anderson said. "They’re really excited to be here and they’re just a really, really hungry group."
The team utilized the transfer portal to add two experienced players and recruited two freshmen from overseas, including Hannah Darling, the 13th ranked amateur in the world.
“She’s going to step up, and I think has the ability to do some amazing things for us,” Anderson said.
In Darling's first colligate tournament, she shot a 205 (-11) to secure runner-up. Her main focus this year is to keep getting better and hopefully win some events along the way, she said.
“For me individually, I just want to really feel like I’ve settled in and just make some kind of progress,” Darling said. “My first college win would be nice and getting a few wins would be, but as a team, we are working towards winning nationals."
Darling is not the only player turning heads on the course. Junior Justine Fournand is a transfer from Flordia Atlantic.
Fournand left FAU as one of its most distinguished golfers. She was the second person in program history to qualify for the NCAA regionals and she recorded the program’s first sub 72 average ever.
Fournand said her plan was always to transfer after two seasons at FAU. She wanted the opportunity to play on a bigger stage and joining the Gamecocks gives her that, she said. She won her first tournament of the season at the Landfall Tradition.
“I wake up every morning, and I’m just happy to be here. So yeah, I’d say it’s a joy,” Fournand said. “I’m just excited to learn some new stuff every single day."
Each golfer understands what is expected of them and they work hard in practice trying to improve, Anderson said.
“Our culture is amazing. It’s a great group. We obviously came out strong with a win at the Annikka, learning a lot every day,” Anderson said. “We’ll have some few bumps in the road. We are a little young, but it’s a really great group talent-wise and coachability and they definitely buy into our system."
Junior Mathilde Claisse said Anderson's success is one of the reasons why she chose to play for South Carolina.
“She is amazing on and off the course. She is such a great coach; her approach on the course during tournaments is just amazing,” Claisse said.
The team's spring schedule has not been announced yet.