The Casey Ott who became one of Kentucky women’s golf’s best players in the spring last season re-emerged Tuesday in time for the final round of the MSU Greenbrier Invitational and perhaps just in time for UK’s home tournament next weekend.
Ott, one of three Wildcats competing as individuals this week at Morehead State’s second annual tournament at the Greenbrier Golf & Country Club (5,961 yards, a par 72) in Lexington, shot a final-round 72 and moved into a tie for sixth place. It marked her third top-10 showing in her last six college tournaments and gives the Wildcats another weapon heading into the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational after winning the Minnesota Invitational to open the season.
In addition to Ott, senior Josephine Chang and sophomore Ryan Bender also found positives to build off from this week. Chang, despite a tough final day as she battled through an injury, notched the fourth top-20 tournament of her career by finishing in 11th place at 13-over par. Bender, at 25-over par, recorded a career-best finish by tying for 25th.
The 54-hole tournament marked the 2019-20 debuts for the Kentucky trio as UK continues a busy stretch to open the season. Next week’s home tournament will mark the third tournament in three weeks for the Wildcats during a five-event fall.
Entering the day five shots back, Chang appeared to have the best shot at defending teammate Rikke Svejgård Nielsen’s title at least year’s Greenbrier – Svejgård Nielsen did not play this week after participating in last week’s Minnesota Invitational – but it was Ott who finished on top among the three Kentucky players thanks to Tuesday’s 72.
After shooting 77 and 78 in unseasonably hot conditions during Monday’s 36-hole marathon, Ott recorded her first round of par or better this season and the seventh of her still young college career. Ott’s 72 was propelled by back-to-back birdies on holes No. 2 and 3, and she just missed a third consecutive birdie by inches on No. 4.
By tying for sixth, she matched her previous career-best finish, set at the Gold Rush Invitational in Seal Beach, California, in February.
Chang was looking for the second top-10 finish of her career and perhaps her best finish (tied for second at the 2019 Colonel Classic) but was foiled by a flare-up injury that cost her some shots she normally makes. The adversity resulted in an 80 on Tuesday.
Bender got better as the tournament wore on. After opening with an 84, she carded a 79 in Monday’s afternoon round and beat it by one Tuesday with a 78.
Lipscomb edged Belmont by four strokes to win this week’s MSU Greenbrier Invitational with a score of 44-over par. Belmont’s Julia Nittoli came from behind on the final day to win the individual title at 1-over par.
Kentucky will turn its attention and preparation to the 30th annual Bettie Lou Evans Invitational, UK’s three-day, 54-hole tournament that will be held Sept. 27-29 at the University Club of Kentucky’s Big Blue Course. The Wildcats won last year’s tournament in exciting and record-setting fashion, holding off a hard-charging Penn State team – which will be back in this season’s field – behind a 54-hole school-record score of 858 (6-under par). Departed senior Leonie Bettel also won the individual title for her second of three championships last season.
The Wildcats will hope to duplicate that success for the 2019 tournament edition and capture back-to-back team championships to start the 2019-20 season.
GO CATS –
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