Stephanie Meadow found her way back to the practice green at Long Cove Club on Friday and went to work.
The Alabama junior had played poorly on the back nine of her opening round at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, her putting deserving much of the blame. So she used an aid to help her alignment on shorter putts and worked on judging her speed better on Long Cove's pure greens -- less technical and more feel.
On the final nine Sunday, Meadow was confident, closing strong to help Alabama come from seven shots back to win the Darius Rucker for the second time. Meadow, after an opening 77, shot 5 under on the weekend to finish third individually.
"I knew I was playing well, so it didn't hurt my confidence, didn't really do anything," Meadow said. "I knew I could still play well. The scores were pretty high the first day."
Arizona State's Noemie Jiminez won her second consecutive event, finishing 4 under par after a closing 68 to earn medalist honors. She also won the Cal Classic in February, and is the first Sun Devils golfer since 2005 to win back-to-back events.
Meadow made birdie on two of her final three holes with putts inside six feet and two-putted long putts on 15 and 17 over tricky undulations. The confidence was back, and while she didn't defend her medalist honors from 2012, she and her teammates again carried the guitar signed by country artist and South Carolina native Darius Rucker.
Long Cove director of golf Bob Patton joked that Alabama coach Mic Potter should start a band. Potter said the Crimson Tide were still deciding how to renovate the trophy case to accommodate the first instrument.
"Next year maybe we'll have a set of drums," Patton said.
Vanderbilt wanted the guitar after firing 2 under as a team Saturday to grab a slim lead. But the Commodores ballooned to an 18-over 302 on Sunday.
Still, the opportunity was there for each team in the top three. The teams traded the lead throughout the day in the unpredictable team format.
Meadow, standing on the 17th tee, watched LSU's Madelene Sagstrom hole out for eagle on the par-4 16th and thought the shot could have been a turning point. But after a wedge to five feet for birdie on the last, Meadow learned in the scorer's tent the Crimson Tide had earned another victory.
The defending NCAA champions shot 291, the second-best round of the day and tops among teams in the top five.
Potter didn't offer any pep talks with the Crimson Tide down seven entering the final round. When Alabama arrives at a tournament, Potter's work is all but done, he said
"What we talk about all the time is quality of practice," Potter said. "I want them to get better every day. Once we get out here, there is nothing we want to do but pick a specific target on every shot, trust our swings and go to the next one and do the same thing."
Potter he felt like the consistency helped outlast the other teams during crucial times Sunday.
Meadow, who plans to defend her Ladies British Open Amateur Championship later this year, said Alabama was capable of a better performance this week.
"But obviosuly we just hung in there and, at the end of the day, we fought through," she said. "It's a great confidence booster to the rest of the season, to show that even when we're not our best, we can still get it done."
Darius Rucker Intercollegiate
Long Cove Club, Hilton Head Island, par-71
*Full results available at golfstatresults.com
1. Alabama 297-288-291--876 T2. Vanderbilt 296-282-302--880, T2. LSU 295-286-299--880, 3. , 4. Arizona State 297-297-293--887 t5. Arkansas 293-298-298--889, T5. North Carolina 295-299-295--889, T5. , 7. Virginia 301-303-290--894 T8. Tennessee 297-301-304--902, T8. UCF 298-302-302-- 902, 10. Georgia 308-299-307--914, 11. South Carolina 314-305-302--921, 12. TCU 311-305-307--923, 13. Furman 313-306-305--924, 14. Wake Forest 304-320-302--926, 15. Auburn 315-316-307-- 938
1. Noemi Jimenez, Arizona State 72-69-68-- 209
2. Madelene Sagstrom, LSU 71-67-75-- 213
3. Stephanie Meadow, Alabama 77-70-67-- 214
4. Dani Ordonez, Arizona State 73-71-71-- 215
T5. Casey Grice, North Carolina 71-73-72-- 216
T5. Kendall Martindale, Vanderbilt 73-71-72-- 216
7. Erica Popson, Tennessee 74-71-72-- 217
8. Emily Tubert, Arkansas 76-70-72-- 218
T9. Irina Gabasa, Vanderbilt 75-68-76-- 219
T9. Emma Lavy, Arkansas 68-77-74-- 219
T9. Briana Mao, Virginia 79-69-71-- 219