LSU Gold

Runion, Rather To Captain, Stone To Play For USA In Arnold Palmer Cup

Runion, Rather To Captain, Stone To Play For USA In Arnold Palmer Cup

BATON ROUGE – It means a lot when you are chosen to coach your country’s team in a major sporting event. When the event’s opening ceremony starts on the Fourth of July, that’s pretty good as well.

For LSU women’s golf head coach Garrett Runion, the opportunity to be one of the captains of the United States team at the 2024 Arnold Palmer Cup that starts Friday at the Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland is special in so many different ways.

First Runion has been involved with sending seven players (5 men, 2 women) to the Cup over the years as men’s assistant coach at LSU and the head coach of the women’s team.

More importantly, there is a special bond among the coach, his family and the legendary namesake of this event.

“I am not sure I can put into words how special and meaningful it is to me to be a Co-Captain of the USA Team for the Arnold Palmer Cup,” Runion said earlier in the week from Lahinch. “Growing up at Bay Hill (Club and Lodge in Orlando), and getting to be around and know Mr. Palmer makes this week very sentimental and special for me. I can see his legacy all over this tournament already with all the details. My parents and my brother, who have been members at Bay Hill for over 30 years, are making the trip to Ireland to, one, see me but also because of what Mr. Palmer has meant to them.

“It’s also a tremendous honor for me to be the first LSU coach to be name an APC Captain,” he said. “I had the good fortune of coaching and recruiting every LSU player that has played in this event before (5 men and 2 women) and to finally be a part of one is special and something I take pride in.”

Garrett’s father, Britt, served as a photographer for Mr. Palmer when he was in Orlando and continues to shoot photos that have been used on our web site and social media when the Tiger golf teams play in Florida.

Representing LSU in a playing capacity this weekend will be Latanna Stone, who finished her eligibility this past May. She will be making her fourth appearance in the Palmer Cup where she has a 4-3-4 record, including 3-0-0 in singles competition.

“We are very excited to have our very own Latanna Stone earning a spot on this year’s team,” said Runion. “She made the team as a freshman that was originally supposed to play (in Ireland) before the pandemic (in 2020) postponed those plans so for her to get a chance to play at Lahinch was a long time coming. One of the reasons she has waited to turn pro was to compete one last time in the APC and speaks very highly of all her previous experiences in the APC.”

Stone, from Riverview, Florida, is one of six LSU players to have appeared in four NCAA Championships, including this year’s team which finished T5.

And, to complete the circle fully, serving as one of the United States’ assistants for this year’s event is LSU women’s golf assistant, Alexis Rather.

“I am very glad I get to experience this opportunity with Alexis,” said Runion. “She does so much for our program, a lot of behind the scenes, thankless jobs that make the players and I look good. Without her and the success of our players and team, I would not have the opportunity to be the Co-Captain of Team USA and I am very grateful she is here getting to experience this amazing opportunity with me. She has also been a very valuable asset already in the prep work leading up to this week.”

The co-captain with Runion of the American team is Arizona State men’s coach Matt Thurmond and the men will have Dudley Hart of Florida joining Rather as assistant for the 14 men and 14 women on the USA team.

Over the course of three days (Friday through Sunday), a total of 60 matches will be played with Friday’s opening round involving Mixed Four Ball competition. On Saturday, there will be a round of foursomes (alternate shots) with ladies playing in teams and the men’s facing off against each other. The afternoon will feature a round of mixed foursomes. Play concludes on Sunday with 24 singles matches. The team to win 30.5 points wins the cup.

Last year at the Laurel Valley Golf Club in Pennsylvania, the USA scored a 32-28 victory. The International team won the last time the event was held in Europe, in 2023 in Switzerland, by a 33-27 count.

But the best college golfers may be walking into one of the most challenging experiences of their golfing career if the pictures of the Lahinch Club are to be believed.

“After finally arriving on property and getting a chance to walk around Lahinch Golf Club, I now know why its ranked one of the top 50 best courses in the world,” Runion said. “The tradition, history, views, terrain, and layout make for an incredible experience unlike any other. When you think of Mr. Palmer, one thing you think of is his toughness and grit and you will need that to play here at Lahinch, especially if the wind and rain shows up. I think it’s a great place to host The Arnold Palmer Cup. It’s a great experience for the American Team to get to see this part of the world and compete on a famous links style course like Lahinch.”

The course on the west coast of Ireland, Lahinch boasts a long and rich history. Lahinch Golf Club was founded in 1892 and is consistently ranked in the Top 50 golf courses in world golf. Originally laid out by Old Tom Morris, the services of Dr. Alister MacKenzie were retained in 1926 to redesign the course, following which he declared “Lahinch will make the finest and most popular golf course that I, or I believe anyone else, ever constructed.”

Since 1895, the spectacular links course has played host to Ireland’s oldest amateur championship ‘The South of Ireland’. Past Champions include Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, and Graeme McDowell, who participated in the 2000 & 2001 Arnold Palmer Cups. Other past champions of “The South” include Justin Keogh and Stuart Grehan, who were honored to represent Europe in the 2002 and 2016 Arnold Palmer Cups, respectively. Lahinch also hosted the DP World Tour’s 2019 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, won by 2014 and 2015 Palmer Cup alum Jon Rahm.

But Captain Runion feels his USA team will be more than up for the challenge.

“I think we have a strong team this year that is very accomplished on both the men’s and women’s side. It’s a team with a healthy mix of both older and experienced with younger, first time APC participants.”

The 12 women from the States have competed in 15 majors, three Curtis Cups and one junior Solheim Cup. The team features two freshman, two sophomores, three juniors, two seniors and three fifth-year players.

On the USA men’s side, players have played in four Walker Cups with seven players from the SEC. It is a junior-laden group with seven players in their third year of college.

In preparation for the mixed events, Captain Runion sent his charges out in groups of six (three men, three women) to get the interaction between the team going.

Thursday, the teams had their final look at the course in preparation for the opening round on Friday. Those pairings were announced at the opening ceremonies Thursday late afternoon USA time and it will be an All-Southeastern Conference match in the opening mixed fourball as LSU’s Stone will team with Jack Lundin who played at Missouri and their opponents for the International team will be Hannah Darling of South Carolina and Ben Van Wyk of Georgia. Darling is a native of Scotland and Van Wyk is from South Africa.

The tee times start at 8:30 a.m. Irish Standard Time which is 2:30 a.m. Baton Rouge time. Live scoring will be available at