ATLANTA – Ole Miss teammates Kennedy Swann and Ellen Hume have more than a few things in common.
For starters, they possess similar games – they hit it far, and fairly straight.
“She just holes more putts than I do,” Hume admitted.
They also are both transfers. Swann, a fifth-year senior, arrived in Oxford, Mississippi, from Clemson in Spring 2018, midway through her junior year. Hume, a junior from England, spent the last two seasons at Charleston Southern.
Oh, and on Monday, the two Rebels shared the individual title at the East Lake Cup, each shooting 3-under 69 around the annual Tour Championship layout. It was Hume’s third career college win, though first at Ole Miss. Swann is now a two-time individual champion for the Rebels.
“They’ve been great fits,” Ole Miss head coach Kory Henkes said. “Sometimes it’s their last chance to prove what they came to college to prove, so it’s always been fun to have transfers come in and try to develop them. It’s been really fun to see them come from where they started to where they are.”
When Hume first stepped on Ole Miss’ state-of-the-art practice grounds earlier this fall, she couldn’t believe her eyes. After all, she was coming from a program that mainly uses the back side of a public range.
“I think her jaw might’ve dropped,” said Henkes, whose first coaching job was actually at Charleston Southern. “I think she was speechless for a little while.”
Assimilating into a big-time program was a bit of a shock, too. Hume didn’t have to look far down the range to see that the competition at home was stout. Yet, she qualified for the Rebels’ first two events, typing for 31st at Blessings in front of a national TV audience before leading Ole Miss with a T-12 showing at The Ally.
“It was very different going from a small DI to a high-caliber team like Ole Miss, but I like the challenge and it’s paid off so far,” Hume said. “I’ve loved every second of it since I’ve been in Oxford.”
It’s helped to have a mentor like Swann, who has helped facilitate Hume’s transition into the fabric of the Ole Miss squad.
“When she first got here, I could tell – it was the same thing with me – she was a little uncomfortable,” Swann said. “We have a very intimidating team because we’re really stacked. Qualifying can be really hard, it can be really intimidating as a new person here to try to make lineup. I just wanted to get to know her and make her feel more comfortable.”
Added Henkes, who noted that Hume is currently living alone until the spring, when her roommate, freshman Smilla Sonderby, arrives from Denmark: “It’s great for Kennedy to be a good role model. She’s been in Ellen’s shoes and wanted to make sure she felt at home.”
While Hume’s has bolstered the Rebels’ lineup, Swann’s emergence as a leader has been equally important. In her first semester at Ole Miss two springs ago, Swann led the team at both regionals and nationals. Last season, she won and didn’t finish outside the top 17 in any of her six starts in a shortened season.
When the COVID-19 pandemic afforded her another year in school, Swann decided to return and pursue an MBA. She opened the fall with finishes of T-11 and T-22 before Monday’s co-victory, which she clinched with a 10-foot birdie make at the last.
When the putt dropped, Hume, sitting just off the green, started cheering. Minutes later, they were both posing with the trophy.
“I’m really, really happy to be able to share it with her,” Swann said. “That’s something special.”
Of course, the job is not finished for Ole Miss, which earned the top seed for match play, which begins Tuesday against Texas. South Carolina and Florida will meet in the other women’s semifinal, while Oklahoma-Texas and Texas Tech-Pepperdine are the men’s matchups.
The Rebels likely will be considered underdogs by some against the Longhorns. But if boasting a pair of co-medalists and Annik Award watch lister Julia Johnson are any indication, this is a talented and scrappy team capable of pulling off two wins in as many days.
“To be here right now, I know it’s under unique circumstances,” Henkes said, “but we’re just so excited to be here, and we’d love to finish it off with another win.”