UK Women’s Golf Faces U of L to Open 2022 Spring Slate
NAPLES, Fla. – After a successful fall campaign, the Kentucky women’s golf team resumes its 2021-22 season on Tuesday vs. archrival Louisville to begin the 2022 spring slate.
The Wildcats and Cardinals will go head-to-head in match play at Club Pelican Bay in Naples, Florida. Eight of nine UK players will be action with five Wildcats – fifth-year senior
Rikke Svejgård Nielsen, juniors Jensen Castle, Marissa Wenzler and María Villanueva Aperribay, and sophomore Laney Frye – playing for the team score in a best-of-five format.
The remaining three Wildcats – fifth-year senior Sarah Fite, senior Ryan Bender and freshman Marta López Echevarría – will play as individuals only.
The match will begin at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Live scoring will not be available.
“The spring season is upon us and we’re looking forward to our match vs. Louisville,” UK head coach Golda Borst said. “This match serves several purposes and it’s a good tune-up as we get ready for the UCF Challenge in a few weeks. The match-play format will provide us with a good experience.”
Although Kentucky and Louisville see each other frequently at tournaments throughout the season, this will be the first Battle of the Bluegrass since the 2018-19 season. Louisville won that February 2019 showdown 4-1.
The Wildcats hope the match-play test early in the spring slate will come in handy later in the season. Both the Southeastern Conference Championship and the NCAA Championship Finals feature match play for the teams that advance past the stroke-play rounds.
Kentucky, of course, has its sights set on being in that postseason mix. Led by Castle, the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and Curtis Cup member, Kentucky is No. 34 in the latest Golfstat rankings following a solid four-tournament fall campaign.
The Wildcats placed in the top five in two of their four fall events with strong individual showings from several players. Castle led the way with two top-20 finishes and a third-place showing at the Mason Rudolph Championship. Frye also tied for 10th at the Mason Rudolph.
In all, UK posted two individual top-10 finishes and five top-20 showings. Kentucky concluded the fall season with a 54-hole average of 290.75, which would be second-best in school history over a full season.
Individually, Castle is just ahead of her 2019-20 school-record pace by mere fractions with 71.75 strokes per round. She is tied for the team lead with six rounds of par or better, and all 12 of her rounds have been used for the team score.
Frye, who made the 2021 SEC All-Freshman Team, also has six rounds of par or better and posted a 72.9 stroke average, second best on the team. Villanueva Aperribay averaged 73.4 strokes per rounds, and Wenzler (even-par 216) and Svejgård Nielsen (2-over-par 218) carded two of the better 54-hole scores of the fall.
The Wildcats are coming off a historic 2020-21 campaign. Kentucky made its first NCAA Championship Finals appearance since 1992 and tied for 18th place at the national championship in Scottsdale, Arizona.
All five players who clinched the berth at the NCAA Columbus Regional and competed in Scottsdale returned for the 2021-22 season. Those five are who will face Louisville on Tuesday in the team portion of the event.
The Cardinals enter the spring ranked No. 32. UK and UofL appeared in the same event twice in the fall. The Wildcats finished ahead of the Cardinals in the latest meeting, in September at the Mason Rudolph Championship.
Tuesday’s match begins a busy spring for UK. Next week, four Wildcats will compete as individuals in the Lady Bulldog Individual Championship (Jan. 29-30) before traditional team stroke-play events begin. Kentucky will compete in four team stroke-play events before the postseason begins April 13 at the SEC Championship in Birmingham, Alabama.