Runion, Rather Named Team USA Coaches for 2024 Arnold Palmer Cup
BATON ROUGE – LSU women’s golf head coach Garrett Runion and assistant coach Alexis Rather have been named to the coaching staff for Team USA for the 2024 renewal of the Arnold Palmer Cup at Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland.
Runion was named by the Golf Coaches Association of America on Tuesday as the Co-Coach for Team USA for the 2024 renewal of the Arnold Palmer Cup at Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland.
Runion, in his sixth year as head women’s coach after six years as the Tigers men’s assistant coach, will be joined by Matt Thurmond, the men’s head coach at Arizona State, on the Team USA staff. The Ryder Cup-style competition, which features men’s and women’s collegiate golfers from the United States versus their International counterparts, will be played July 5-7.
Australia’s Rhyll Brinsmead and Ireland’s Barry Fennelly will lead the International side. Team USA leads the all-time series, 14-12-1. Joining Rather as Assistant Coach for Team USA is Dudley Hart, Associate Head Coach of the men’s team at Florida.
Rather is in her 14th year on the LSU staff, serving her first eight years under LSU Athletics Hall of Fame coach Karen Bahnsen, and all six years with Runion. The pair have been at the helm of 12 collegiate victories including the 2022 SEC Women’s Championship, the school’s first in 30 years.
“I am extremely humbled and honored to be named the co-head coach of the Arnold Palmer Cup for the American team,” said Runion. “I was very blessed and fortunate to grow up in Orlando and be a member at Bay Hill Country Club and get to know Mr. Palmer. So ever since I got into coaching, I wanted to be a part of it in some way, shape or form. I am very excited about this. I look forward to coaching in Ireland and hopefully we have some of our own LSU players play on both sides.
“I’m extremely excited for Alexis. I know this was a big thing for her as well. It will be the first time two coaches from the same school coach together in the same year. We are extremely excited and looking forward to it,” Runion said.
Runion and Rather have brought the LSU women’s golf program to a new national prominence in an age when college golf is getting more media exposure than any time in its history.
“It truly is an incredible honor to be selected as an assistant coach for Team USA in the 2024 Arnold Palmer Cup,” said Rather. “Mr. Palmer has done so much to grow the game of golf and to be a small part of this incredible event which honors his legacy is very humbling.”
The Tigers have been to the NCAA Championships in Scottsdale each of the last three seasons, earning a spot in the top 15 in all three events. The Tigers were one of just five teams to advance to the championships in all three years at that location.
In the 2022 SEC Championship. LSU finished second in the team qualifying, and then in match play, defeated Vanderbilt, 4-1, Alabama 3-1-1 and won the championship match over Florida, 3-0-2.
For the second straight year Runion was named SEC Coach of the Year in 2023 after leading the Tigers to four wins, a semifinal spot in the SEC Match Play and a rallying finish in the final eight holes at the NCAA Regional to advance to the third straight Championship.
Runion and Rather’s roster currently includes five-year stars Ingrid Lindblad, a 13-time collegiate winner and ranked No. 1 in the present World Amateur Golf Rankings; and, No. 20 Latanna Stone, who reached the finals of the 2023 U.S. Amateur. The team includes Aine Donegan, who made the cut at this year’s U.S. Women’s Open and four-year player Carla Tejedo, who has been a part of two Spanish amateur team title runs in the last couple of years.
LSU finished No. 3 in the final 2022-23 WGCA Mizuno Coaches Poll. The Tigers posted one of the lowest averages in school history at 286.65 for 34 rounds. LSU was ranked No. 1 preseason at the start of the 2023-24 season by Golfweek magazine.
Prior to being named LSU women’s head coach, Runion spent six seasons as the LSU men’s golf assistant coach (2012-18). A 2008 LSU graduate and three-year letter winner for the Tigers, Runion was instrumental in the LSU men’s team’s return to national prominence since joining then Coach Chuck Winstead’s men’s staff prior to the 2012-13 season.
The LSU men’s team finished in the Top 10 at the men’s NCAA National Championships in four consecutive seasons from 2013-17. The 2014-15 season was one for the ages in the history of LSU men’s golf as the Tigers staked their claim as the premier program in college golf with a 4-1 win over USC to win the NCAA national title. It was the program’s fifth national championship all-time and the first in 60 years.
From 2010-12, Runion was at Nova Southeastern and as head coach in 2012, won the NCAA Division II title, as he earned Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year and Eaton Golf Pride South Region Coach of the Year honors.
A native of Orlando, Florida, Runion called Baton Rouge and LSU home from 2003-08. Runion graduated from LSU in May 2008 with his Bachelor of Arts & Science degree in general studies. Runion and his wife, Meghan, have one son, Reid, aka “Rocket”, and daughters, Riley and Raegan.
Rather, who starred as a player at LSU, was recognized for her work efforts and abilities as well at the conclusion of the 2023 season as she was named the national Assistant Coach of the Year by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association.
She was the assistant coach on the Tiger women’s golf team that finished a program best third in the NCAA Championships in both 2011 and 2012 and she has continued to recruit some of the world’s top recruits to come to Baton Rouge, including ANNIKA Award finalists Madelene Sagstrom (2015) and Lindblad (2020, 2022).
Since Rather joined the staff in the fall of 2010, LSU has made 10 NCAA Tournament team appearances and sent two individuals in the other seasons.
Rather assists with planning running practice routines, and coaching on the course for tournament. She has also played a vital role in LSU’s recruiting efforts.
Rather served two years as an assistant coach at Ole Miss before beginning her professional tenure at LSU. At Ole Miss, she helped guide the Rebels back to postseason play as the women’s golf team earned the Chancellor’s Cup for the women’s varsity team at Ole Miss with the highest grade point average.
The native of Tupelo, Mississippi, was a four-year letter winner at LSU, appeared in two NCAA Women’s Golf Championships as a player and was a four-time Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar.
Rather, a two-time First-Team All-Louisiana golfer, had three top-10 finishes in her 2008 senior season. That year, she also chipped in for the only birdie in a sudden death playoff for the eighth and final qualifying spot at the NCAA East Regional that propelled LSU to the NCAA Women’s Championships.
She graduated from LSU in July 2007 with an honors degree in communications and her master’s in sports management from LSU in 2008.
About the Arnold Palmer Cup
The Arnold Palmer Cup was co-founded by Arnold Palmer and the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) and began at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Fla., in 1997. The Palmer Cup has been played at some of the world’s greatest courses, including The Old Course at St. Andrews, The Royal County Down, Royal Portrush, Baltusrol, The Honors Course, and Cherry Hills. Beginning with the 2018 matches at Evian Resort Golf Club, the Palmer Cup is the only major tournament that features men and women playing side-by-side as partners.
Since its inception, over 245 former Arnold Palmer Cup alumni have gone on to earn cards on the PGA, DP World, or LPGA Tours; 44 have represented Europe or the USA in the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, or Solheim Cup and more than 90 have claimed over 415 victories on the PGA, DP World, or LPGA Tours, including 2023 major champions Jon Rahm (Masters Tournament), Lilia Vu (The Chevron Championship & AIG Women’s Open), Wyndham Clark (U.S. Open), Allisen Corpuz (U.S. Women’s Open), and Brian Harman (The Open), as well as 2023 FedEx Cup champion Viktor Hovland.
The Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation supports the Palmer Cup, which provides a platform for perpetuating Arnold Palmer’s commitment to youth character development and the growth of amateur/collegiate golf. For more information, please visit ArnoldPalmerCup.com.
About the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation
The Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation continues the Palmer family’s mission to champion youth health and development. By continuing their efforts to ensure every child gets the opportunity to live a life well played — through support for nature-focused well-being and character development through golf — the foundation is committed to keeping the Palmer legacy at the forefront of the global conversation of golf and society at large. Learn more at PalmerFoundation.org.
Rolex and the Arnold Palmer Cup
Through an unwavering commitment to the game of golf for more than 50 years, Rolex has developed one of the broadest and longest-standing relationships between brand and sport. These strong ties date back to 1967 when Rolex partnered with legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, making him the first official Rolex Golf Testimonee. The charismatic American holds a special place in golf history thanks as much to his natural talent and successful playing career as to his pioneering role in the sport. Since that pivotal bond began, Rolex has gone on to establish partnerships at every level of the sport, including with the governing bodies responsible for advancing the sport and with the finest players, from The Big Three to the New Guard who lead today’s rankings. The decision to partner with the Arnold Palmer Cup was thus a natural progression for the Swiss watchmaker and a tribute to Arnold Palmer’s inspiring legacy.