When Kentucky women’s golf coaches Golda Borst and Brian May set out to recruit for the class of 2019, they knew they needed both talent and numbers.
Consider both boxes checked with an impressive fall signing class.
The Wildcats have signed highly regarded high school stars Jensen Castle, Janika Rüttimann, Marissa Wenzler and Kelsey Wylie during the fall signing period. All four inked national letters of intent with the University of Kentucky and will join the Wildcats for the 2019-20 season.
Each member of the 2018 signing quartet is considered the top prospect out of their respective areas.
“We are very happy with our 2019 signing class,” Borst said. “It’s one of our strongest classes overall in my years at Kentucky and it’s one that will have a great impact on our program in the years to come. Each player will bring a different personality and dynamic to our team and we can’t wait to have them on campus next fall.”
Castle, from West Columbia, South Carolina, was a huge pickup for the Wildcats in Southeastern Conference territory. Currently a senior at Gray Collegiate Academy, Castle is a two-time individual state champion, winning once at the 3A level and once at 5A.
“Jensen is a very competitive and strong player who will bring a great deal of toughness to our team,” Borst said. “She is not only a great player but a phenomenal student who works hard at everything she does. I am excited to coach her over the next four years and I know that she will have some special things in store for the BBN.”
Just last month, Castle dominated the South Carolina Class 3A state championship. With a 137, Castle won by 10 shots and set the two-day state tournament record. She also won the 5A state title in 2016 at White Knoll High School, where she led the team to a state runner-up finish. She owns the nine- 18- and 36-hole school records at White Knoll.
Castle is a five-time All-State selection, a five-time All-Region pick (including one year on the boys’ team) and a two-time member of the Can-Am Junior Team. Over the summer, she finished in the top 10 in her last five tournaments.
She’s the top-rated signee in the class, checking in at No. 19 overall in the class of 2019 Golfweek rankings and No. 32 in the American Junior Golf Association rankings.
“From the moment I stepped on campus it felt like home and I felt welcomed by the team and the coaches,” Castle said of her decision to sign with UK.
Castle is a member of the National Honors Society. She picked Kentucky over UNC-Charlotte, South Florida, South Carolina and Indianapolis.
With current senior and Austrian native Leonie Bettel on the team, the Wildcats are hoping the Austrian pipeline will produce similar success with Rüttimann, an accomplished international golfer out of Tschagguns, Austria.
“Janika will bring a great deal of international experience to our team next year,” Borst said. “She has represented Austria for several years now and her game has continued to improve at a very high level. She is a very focused, honest and hard-working individual who I think will be a great fit for our program. I know that she will step on campus with a determination to become better each day and I can’t wait to see how far she goes.”
Rüttimann not only has experience at the international level, she’s shown an ability to win. She won the Austrian Stroke Play U18 title in 2017 and finished in first place at the Austrian Juniors Tour in 2017.
She also finished second at the 2017 Swiss International Ladies Championship, third at 2018 the Austrian Stroke Play Championship, third at the 2017 Austrian Match Play and third at the 2017 Slovenian Amateur Championship.
All told, Rüttimann has 13 top-10 finishes at the international level and is ranked No. 279 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
“I chose Kentucky because of all the people in the program and I really like the direction of the team,” Rüttimann said.
Rüttimann picked Kentucky over Virginia.
Borst and the staff have been able to watch Wenzler, who is just a few hours north of Lexington in Centerville, Ohio, grow and develop the last couple of seasons. That growth culminated in Wenzler winning the Ohio High School Athletic Association state championship last month.
“I’ve watched Marissa’s game grow over the last two years and I am incredibly impressed with her work ethic and drive to become better each day,” Borst said. “She is highly competitive and her toughness on the course is one of her greatest strengths. She had a really good summer in 2018 and I know that this is only the beginning for her. She has climbed her way up the rankings and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for her in the years to come.”
Wenzler, from Centerville High School, fired the second-lowest two-round total (138) in Ohio state history to win the championship. It was the cap on a strong 2018, which has included eight top-10 finishes and five top-five showings.
With a 72.4 scoring average in 2018, Wenzler, a two-time Ohio All-State First Team selection, moved into the top 100 of the Golfweek girls’ rankings. She’s ranked No. 41 by the AJGA in the class of 2019.
The owner of nearly every major school record, Wenzler led Centerville to third place at the state championship this season, and sectional and district championships.
“I loved everything about UK,” Wenzler said. “The coaches are incredible and the golf team made me feel very welcomed on my visit. The school itself is beautiful and it truly felt like home.”
Wenzler won the Scholar Athlete Award at Centerville and is a member of the Spanish Honors Society. Her brother, Ryan, played at Wright State and has made an appearance on the PGA Tour.
She chose UK over Louisville.
With four family members who have played Division I collegiate golf, including her father, golf has been a staple of the Wylie family for some time now. But Wylie made a name for herself in Katy, Texas, by accomplishing a number of firsts, chief among them the first individual state championship at her high school.
Wylie is not only the first female golfer out of Faith West Academy to compete at the regional and state levels, she’s the first to have won the district, regionals and the state title.
“I started watching Kelsey play a couple of years ago and I was struck by her poise and quiet strength on the course,” Borst said. “She is a strong, kind and determined individual who works incredibly hard both on the golf course and in the classroom. She can be quiet, but you should never underestimate her. She is a really competitive player and I know that she will have a great impact on our program in the years to come.”
Wylie has finished in the top three in each of the last four years at the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools state championship (5A). She finished in first in 2017, was the runner-up this past year, placed third in 2016 and second in Class 4A in 2015.
She posted multiple top-three finishes this summer on the Texas Junior Golf Tour with the second-lowest scoring average in the 15-18-year-old division, and she finished in the top 12 twice in AJGA events. She’s ranked No. 132 in the AJGA class of 2019 rankings.
An Academic All-State pick for the 2017-18 season, Wylie is a member of the National Honors Society and the Science National Honors Society.
She chose UK over High Point, Samford and Belmont.
“I chose Kentucky because of the coaches, the team and the atmosphere,” Wylie said. “I felt like I could grow not only as an athlete but as a person.”
The Kentucky women’s golf team will resume its 2018-19 season in February at the Reynolds Lake Oconee Championship.
GO CATS –
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