The Kentucky women’s golf team placed 12th this week at The Ally in the second of three tournaments this fall.
The Wildcats, as they did in the first tournament, the Blessings Collegiate Invitational, ultimately dug themselves too big of a hole to climb out of after their first-round score but showed signs of improvement and a foundation to build on in the final two rounds.
After opening with a 302, UK carded rounds of 294 on Tuesday and a 296 on Wednesday to finish Mississippi State’s home tournament at 28-over par. Sophomore Jensen Castle was the top Kentucky finisher at 2-over par, tying her for 22nd place at Old Waverly Golf Club (6,377 yards, par 72) in West Point, Mississippi.
“The week didn’t go as well as we wanted to,” UK head coach Golda Borst said. “I think we learned a lot this week coming off the Blessings tournament. That was a really tough track and it hurt our confidence quite a bit. We got here and I thought we would be to handle it, but I think our games are in a tough spot and we’ve got to go home and work on some basic stuff to get ready for the next tournament.”
That next tournament, the finale of the fall, will be Nov. 6-8 in Athens, Georgia, at the Liz Murphey Fall Collegiate Classic.
There the Wildcats will hope for more consistent play. At times the group showed flashes of its 2019-20 success with a combined 31 birdies over the last two rounds, but a tough start to the tournament and too many big numbers prevented Kentucky from making any significant move up the leaderboard.
“After day one I thought our girls regrouped as best they could,” Borst said. “I think it’s always hard when everybody is kind of struggling with something different. You’re feeding off each other. We just need to get back to work. We’ll get our entire team together and work on the things we need to work on and get ready for Georgia.”
South Carolina came out on top of the predominantly Southeastern Conference field (Southern Miss joined the 14 SEC schools in the tournament) with a score of 12-under par, five shots better than LSU. The Gamecocks’ Pauline Roussin-Bouchard won individual medalist honors at 14-under par, seven shots clear of Arkansas’ Brooke Matthews.
Castle was among the leaders early in the tournament and was climbing her way back near the top 10 early in Wednesday’s round. She got to 1-under for the day and 2-under for the tournament after a birdie on her third hole, but three straight bogeys later in her round took her out of red numbers.
With a 75 in the final round, Kentucky’s single-season stroke average record holder finished at 2-over par overall and missed out on what would have been her sixth top-20 finish in eight college events.
Laney Frye showed impressive resolve again as a freshman. After opening the tournament with a 76, she got better each round with a 74 on Tuesday and a 73 over the final 18 holes. After beating all other freshmen at the Blessings Collegiate Invitational two weeks ago, where she tied for sixth, she tied for 45th this week at 7-over par.
Senior Rikke Svejgård Nielsen also made strides in each of her rounds. She went from a 78 to a 74 and then a 73. She tied for 49th at 9-over par.
Sophomore Marissa Wenzler was one shot behind her at 10-over par, tied for 53rd. In between a 75 on Wednesday and a 79 to start the tournament, she fired an even-par 72 in the second round.
Junior Casey Ott tied for 52nd at 15-over par. She carded a 76 in the tournament’s conclusion.
UK opened the season with an eighth-place finish at the BCI in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Despite the early results, the Wildcats still have high expectations. Just about everyone returned from a group that won two championships to go along with a runner-up finish last season, set new records for team scoring average and individual scoring average (Castle), and posted 10 individual top-10 showings and 20 top-20 finishes.
– GO CATS –
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