Head and Assistant Coaches Named for 2024 Palmer Cup


LAS VEGAS - Head and assistant coaches have been named for the 2024 Arnold Palmer Cup at Lahinch Golf Club. Garrett Runion of LSU and Matt Thurmond of Arizona State will be Team USA co-head coaches while Australia’s Rhyll Brinsmead and Ireland’s Barry Fennelly will lead Team International. Dudley Hart of Florida and Alexis Rather of LSU will be Team USA co-assistant coaches while Scotland’s Stew Burke and Ireland’s Aaron O’Callaghan will assist Team International. 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. USA leads the all-time series 14-12-1.

Runion, who has been a part of two national championships and earned multiple conference and regional coach of the year awards thus far during his collegiate coaching career, is in his sixth season as the LSU women’s golf head coach. The Tigers have 12 wins, including their first SEC Championship in 30 years in 2022, and made three straight NCAA Division I National Championship appearances with Runion at the helm. He has to two SEC Coach of the Year (2022, 2023) honors and was named 2022 Golf Pride WGCA Central Regional Coach of the Year. This fall, LSU recorded three top-five finishes, including a nine-stroke victory at the Illini Women’s Invitational.. After posting one of the lowest averages in school history, the Tigers finished No. 3 in the final 2022-23 WGCA Mizuno Coaches Poll. Prior to being named women's head coach, Runion spent six seasons as the men's golf assistant coach at LSU (2012-18). In 2018, he was named a finalist for the Jan Strickland Outstanding Assistant Coach Award for the third year in a row. A 2008 LSU graduate and three-year letter winner for the Tigers, Runion was instrumental in the LSU men’s team finishing inside 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 defeated USC 4-1 to win the NCAA national title. It was the program’s fifth national championship all-time and the first in 60 years. The Tigers also won the SEC Championship for the first time in 28 years in 2015, their 16th league title in school history. From 2010-12, Runion was at Nova Southeastern and as head men’s golf coach in 2012, won the NCAA Division II title. He earned Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year, Eaton Golf Pride South Region Coach of the Year, and Dave Williams NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year honors that season.

Thurmond is in his eighth season as head men’s golf coach at Arizona State and has earned Pac-12 Coach of the Year three times, including in 2019. The Sun Devils have won 19 tournaments, including back-to-back NCAA Regionals, and have earned 18 PING All-American and three straight Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year honors during his tenure. Arizona State, North Carolina, and Pepperdine were the only schools to make match play in the past three years at Grayhawk and ASU finished third in the final Golfstat rankings, which followed a solid pattern, as ASU has finished seventh (2018-19), sixth (2019-20), fifth (2020-21), fourth (2021-22) and third in its past five seasons. Arizona State posted a 143-27-3 head-to-head record in 2022-23 with the second-toughest schedule and had the most wins of any team against both top 25 (68-26-3) and top 50 (104-27-3) foes. He spent the previous 15 seasons at Washington, creating a perennial national championship-contending program for the Huskies. With 12 total NCAA Championship appearances at UW, his teams averaged a ninth-place national finish, including seven top-10 finishes. The 2009 Golfweek National Coach of the Year and two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year (’05, ’09), Thurmond coached Washington to three conference titles in 2005, 2009, and 2010, and his players (ASU and UW) have combined to earn 42 PING All-American honors and 11 Palmer Cup selections.

Hart is in his seventh season on Florida and head coach JC Deacon’s coaching staff, and first as associate head coach. The Gators put together a historic season in 2022-23 that led to six tournament titles, including the program’s fifth NCAA Division I National Championship and 16th SEC Championship. Hart was named the 2023 Jan Strickland Outstanding Assistant Coach Award recipient, becoming the second Gator to receive the award, joining John Handrigan in 2015. During his tenure, the Gators have won 14 tournaments and earned nine PING All-America and 14 PING All-Southeast Region honors. Florida also had back-to-back SEC Freshman of the Year recipients. Off the course, the Gators have earned 38 Academic All-SEC, seven GCAA All-America Scholar, and 2018-19 GCAA Outstanding Team Academic honors. A four-year (1987-90) player at Florida himself, Hart was the 1987 SEC Freshman of the Year, a three-time First-Team All-SEC selection, and a four-time All-American. He is one of five Gators in program history to be a four-time All-American and was the first of eight to earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Hart went on to have a decorated professional career that included two PGA TOUR victories; at the 1996 RBC Canadian Open and the 2000 Honda Classic, where he reached as high as 21st in the World Rankings. 

Rather is in her 14th season with the Tigers and her sixth working with Runion. She spent eight seasons under the tutelage of long-time LSU head coach Karen Bahnsen in addition to playing for Bahnsen in the purple and gold from 2003-2008, where she recorded a program-record 125 rounds played and chipped in for the only birdie in a sudden death playoff for the eighth and final qualifying spot at the 2008 NCAA East Regional that advanced LSU to the NCAA Championship. The Tigers posted a school-record scoring average of 285.65 while capturing four wins during the 2022-23 season, tying for the second most in program history. LSU finished the season ranked No. 3 in the Mizuno WGCA Coaches Poll and earned the No. 1 seed at the NCAA Palm Beach Regional before going on to advance to the NCAA Championships for the third consecutive year. With a tie for 14th at nationals, the Tigers became one of just five schools to finish in the top 15 each of the last three years. In addition, LSU golfers captured four individual titles during the season, while the team boasted three WGCA All-Americans. For her efforts, Rather was named the 2023 WGCA Division I Assistant Coach of the Year. The Tigers have won 12 times under the Runion-Rather pairing, including five times in 2023, and they advance to their third straight NCAA Championship in May. In 2022 for the first time in 30 years, LSU won the SEC Championship.

Brinsmead, who was a Team International assistant coach at the 2023 Palmer Cup, took the helm as the head women's golf coach at Minnesota in January 2021. In her first two-plus seasons, she has led the Gophers to four top-fives, including in two of their four tournaments this fall, and 17 top-10 finishes. Seven of her players have earned WGCA All-American Scholar honors. Sophomore Isabella McCauley became the first Gopher to win medalist honors since 2015 when she recorded the second-lowest 54-hole score in school history (204, 67-68-69, -12) at the Boilermaker Classic in September. Prior to her time in Minneapolis, Brinsmead made history at Kennesaw State during her 13-year tenure as head coach. The Owls won their first four ASUN Conference titles, including in 2012 that led to the program’s first NCAA postseason berth. The five-time ASUN Conference Coach of the Year coached six conference Women’s Golfer of the Year recipients, 16 WGCA All-American Scholars, four conference Freshman of the Year honorees, and 55 top-five finishes. Her coaching career began as an assistant coach at Texas State, where she was a two-time captain and led the Bobcats to the 2002 Southland Conference Championship as a player, and then at Iowa State, where she received a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy studies. The Melbourne, Australia, native, was also a P.J. Boatright intern through the USGA with the Central Texas Junior Golf Association, launching the region’s LPGA-USGA Junior Girls Golf Club and leading the ‘Hook a Kid on Golf’ junior camp.

Fennelly is in his 13th season as head coach of both the men’s and women’s programs at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Under Fennelly’s direction, Maynooth has become the perennial leaders in Ireland, having won two National club titles and numerous Irish, British, and European University titles. Since the creation of The R&A Student Tour Series in 2019, now regarded as Europe’s elite student tour, Maynooth has dominated, winning nine Student Tour Series titles (eight men’s and one women's victory). Maynooth has claimed The R&A Student Tour Series men’s order of merit crown for the past three seasons. Fennelly has worked with three Maynooth men who have gone on to win The R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament (Now the R&A Student Tour Series Final), which is highly regarded as the leading college tournament in Europe. Maynooth has been represented at nine of the last 11 Arnold Palmer Cup matches, a feat not matched by any institution outside of the United States. Maynooth has produced seven Arnold Palmer Cup participants, two Walker Cup players, one Curtis Cup player, and numerous Irish men and women Internationals. In 2012, Fennelly led Ireland’s men’s team to a bronze medal at the World University Golf Championship. Fennelly served as an assistant coach for Team International’s 2022 Palmer Cup victory at Golf Club de Genève. A member of the Palmer Cup men’s selection committee in 2016 & 2017, Fennelly has been serving on the international women’s selection committee for the past five years.

Burke was named head coach at Kansas State on June 30 after holding the same position at Tulane the previous four seasons. The Wildcats recorded a 291.33 team stroke average this fall, which is their best fall stroke average since at least 2011. At the White Sands Invitational in October, which included individual winner Haley Vargas, Kansas State captured their first team victory in four years. 2023 Palmer Cup alumna Carla Bernat also won the Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational, marking the first time in six years that Kansas State had multiple individual winners. During his tenure at Tulane, Burke improved the Green Waves’ national ranking by more than 50 spots from the time he took over. The Bridge of Weir, Scotland native also led the Green Wave to the 2022 AAC Conference Championship, earning a berth into the NCAA Stillwater Regional and Burke AAC Coach of the Year honors. Burke originally joined K-State in the spring of 2014 and worked in Manhattan through the fall of 2016, helping the Wildcats post its top two stroke average marks in school history in consecutive seasons. He then served parts of three seasons as the associate head coach at USC before taking over the Tulane program in the fall of 2019, ​​helped guide the Trojans to consecutive appearances in the NCAA Championship Semifinals (2017 and 2018) followed by a trip to the Quarterfinals (2019). USC captured 14 team victories and posted an impressive mark of 18 consecutive finishes in the top three from the spring of 2018 to the spring of 2019. The Trojans were ranked as the nation’s top team in both the Golfstat and Golfweek rankings on their way to a 2019 Pac-12 Championship and an NCAA West Regional team title. 

O’Callaghan is in his seventh season as the Demon Deacons' associate head coach, coming to Wake Forest in July 2018 after four seasons at Louisville. This fall, the Wake Forest men’s golf team won both the team and individual titles at the Highlands Invitational at the Chicago Highlands Club, with 2022 Palmer Cup alumnus Michael Brennan claiming his seventh career individual title, the fourth most in program history. Last season, Brennan became the first Demon Deacon since Webb Simpson in 2008 to win the ACC Championship, and in the 2022 postseason, Wake Forest captured the 18th ACC Championship in program history and followed by winning the New Haven NCAA Regional, setting a program record score for a regional. At Louisville, O’Callaghan helped the Cardinals to four team victories, three NCAA Regional appearances, and a 14th-place finish at the 2016 NCAA Championship. Among the players he coached at UL was two-time ACC Champion and 2016 Palmer Cup alumnus Robin Sciot-Siegrist. As a player, O’Callaghan was an elite junior player in his native Ireland. He won the 2004 Irish Boys U18 Championship, was the recipient of the 2003-04 Jacques Leglise Trophy and 2005 Ireland Junior Sports Star of the Year. He represented Ireland in European and international competitions between 2001-07, including on the Great Britain and Ireland boys team. O’Callaghan played collegiate golf at Southeastern Louisiana from 2005-09, winning twice and earning first-team All-Southland Conference accolades in 2007. 

For more information about the Palmer Cup, visit arnoldpalmercup.com.

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 event is a Ryder Cup-style tournament featuring the top men’s and women’s university/college golfers matching the United States against a team of International players. 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 United States leads the Palmer Cup series 14-12-1.

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.

About Rolex

Rolex is an integrated and independent Swiss watch manufacturer. Headquartered in Geneva, the brand is recognized around the world for its expertise and the quality of its products – symbols of excellence, elegance, and prestige. The movements of its Oyster Perpetual and Cellini watches are certified by COSC, then tested in-house for their precision, performance, and reliability. The Superlative Chronometer certification, symbolized by the green seal, confirms that each watch has successfully undergone tests conducted by Rolex in its laboratories according to its own criteria. These are periodically validated by an independent external organization.

The word “Perpetual” is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster watch. But more than just a word on a dial, it is a philosophy that embodies the company’s vision and values. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of the company, instilled a notion of perpetual excellence that would drive the company forward. This led Rolex to pioneer the development of the wristwatch and numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, invented in 1931. In the course of its history. Rolex has registered over 500 patents. At its four sites in Switzerland, the brand designs, develops, and produces the majority of its watch components, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly, and finishing of the movement, case, dial, and bracelet. Furthermore, the brand is actively involved in supporting the arts and culture, sport, and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.

About Nike

The exclusive footwear, apparel, headwear, and glove supplier of the Arnold Palmer Cup, our mission is what drives us to do everything possible to expand human potential. We do that by creating groundbreaking sport innovations, by making our products more sustainably, by building a creative and diverse global team, and by making a positive impact in the communities where we live and work.