Kentucky women’s golfer Josephine Chang will have a shot at the MSU Greenbrier Invitational championship on Tuesday after navigating her way through a hot and sun-soaked 36 holes Monday at Greenbrier Golf & Country Club (5,961 yards, a par 72) in Lexington.
Chang battled through unseasonably hot conditions with mid-90-degree temperatures to post a 5-over-par 149 through two rounds. In sixth place, she’s five shots behind Lipscomb’s Emily Keeling.
The senior from Rancho Cucamonga, California, will have some work to do to claim her first career title, but she’s put herself in contention for Tuesday’s finale, which begins at 9:15 a.m. with a shotgun start.
Chang is one of three Wildcats playing at Morehead State’s second annual tournament. Sophomore Casey Ott is tied for 13th with a score of 11-over par and sophomore Ryan Bender is tied for 32nd at 19-ovar par.
The UK trio is making its 2019-20 debut. Chang, Ott and Bender did not participate in last week’s team championship at the Minnesota Invitational in Woodbury, Minnesota.
Nevertheless, the Wildcats are hoping to build off that momentum, play well this week and continue a solid start to the season heading into next week’s home tournament, the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational (Sept. 27-29). First they hope to finish strong Tuesday and perhaps capture the MSU Greenbrier Invitational title for the second year in a row. Now-junior Rikke Svejgård Nielsen won the inaugural event last season in runaway fashion – an 11-shot victory – but she did not compete this week after playing last Monday and Tuesday in Minnesota.
Chang has the best chance to defend Kentucky’s individual title. She opened the day with a first-round 76 and kept pace with the leaders thanks to a second-round 73. Chang was among the most consistent players on the course Monday with 26 pars, second most in the field.
Now in her final season at Kentucky, Chang is seeking her third career top-10 finish. Her best showing was last spring at the Colonel Classic, where she tied for second.
Ott was just a stroke behind Chang after a first-round 77 that included an eagle. While the leaders shaved a few shots off their scores in the second round, Ott couldn’t keep pace and slipped back to a tie for 13th with a 78 in the afternoon.
The sophomore from Conway, Arkansas, certainly has the talent and the experience to make a final-round run. She was among UK’s best performers down the stretch a season ago with a team-high two top-10 finishes in the spring, including tying for sixth at the Gold Rush Invitational.
Greenbrier got the best of Bender in the opening round with an 84. She cut five shots off her score in the second round with a 79.
Bender played in six events in her first collegiate season in 2018-19. The 2017 Kentucky High School Athletic Association state champion out of Louisville is in search of her best collegiate showing. Her current best is 38th at last season’s Colonel Classic.
With the tournament in town, fans are encouraged to support the Wildcats and attend Tuesday’s final round. Weather conditions will remain dry with slightly cooler temperatures than Monday’s.
Lipscomb currently leads the team portion of the event at 30-over par. The other eight teams include host Morehead State, Belmont, UIC, UNC Asheville, Northern Kentucky, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.
This week’s event marks the second of five fall events for the Wildcats. UK’s season-opening championship last week was its second in the last two years, the first away from home since September 2013 and the fifth of the Golda Borst era.
GO CATS –
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