Another day, another solid round for Josephine Chang.
The Kentucky women’s golf freshman shot an ever-par 72 on Saturday in the second round of the Ron Moore Women’s Intercollegiate to extend her streak of ever-or-par better rounds to begin her collegiate career to four straight.
With back-to-back rounds of 72 to open the tournament, Chang is at even par and in a tie for seventh place heading into Sunday’s final 18 holes. She’s just four shots behind the co-leaders, Pepperdine’s Hira Naveed and Denver’s Mariell Bruun.
“Josephine had to really battle today to finish her round the way she did,” head coach Golda Johansson Borst said. “She is such a solid and steady player for us and I am really proud of the fight and composure she showed all day.”
With Chang leading the way, Kentucky is in a tie for seventh place in the 18-team field at 18-over par. Pepperdine (-6) and tournament host Denver (-2) are running away from the pack, but a top-five and even a top-three finish are still in reach for the Wildcats heading into the final round. UK is just six shots removed from third place.
Kentucky shot a 299 Saturday, its fifth sub-300 score in seven stroke-play rounds this year. It took the Wildcats 25 rounds last season to fire five sub-300 rounds.
Even so, Borst sees plenty of room for improvement for her team.
“Today wasn’t quite our best day on the course,” Borst said. “We had a few too many unforced errors and didn’t make enough birdies to make up for them. There are always things to learn from in a round and I am confident that this group will bounce back and climb up the leaderboard tomorrow.”
Chang is already on the individual leaderboard and poised for a top-10 finish.
Whereas Friday Chang sort of cruised through the first round with 13 pars and three birdies, on Saturday Chang had to battle back from adversity because of three bogeys and a double bogey. The native of Rancho Cucamonga, California, was able to counter with five birdies.
With yet another round of even par or better, Chang is averaging a 71.75 in stroke play this season.
Three Wildcats – senior Jordan Chael, redshirt junior Ale Walker and junior Isabelle Johansson – are in a nine-player logjam for 37th place at 6-over par.
Chael shot a 75 for the second straight day. She was at even par in the second round through the front nine with two birdies and two bogeys.
Walker was among the leaders after Friday’s first round and carded three birdies on Saturday, but six bogeys and a double bogey ultimately dropped her back into the pack.
Johansson, Kentucky’s leader in stroke average in 2015-16, also recorded a 75 for the second straight day. She carded two birdies to go along with 12 pars.
Freshman Sarah Shipley enters the final round in a tie for 99th at 22-over par.
Play concludes Sunday at the Ron Moore Women’s Intercollegiate at 11 a.m. ET with a shotgun start. Live scoring can be found at BirdieFire.com.
The Wildcats are seeking their third straight solid tournament to begin the season. UK placed fourth at the East & West Match Play Challenge and sixth at the Minnesota Invitational with at least a share of an individual championship in both tournaments.
Hosted by the University of Denver, the Ron Moore Women’s Intercollegiate is the biggest field UK has played in this season.
The site of this weekend’s tournament is he Highlands Ranch Country Club, which is playing at 6,450 yards with a par of 72. The course was designed by three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin and offers magnificent views of the Rocky Mountain Front Range.
For the latest on the Kentucky women’s golf team, follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.
by Eric Lindsey