Josephine Chang’s start to the season would qualify as strong for anyone. To do it as a freshman to begin a college career: impressive.
For the second straight tournament, Chang has played more like a veteran and less likely her classification (a freshman) would suggest. Chang opened the Ron Moore Women’s Intercollegiate in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, with an impressive even-par 72. She’s scored 72 or better in all three rounds to begin her Kentucky women’s golf career.
Chang led a strong effort from the Wildcats in the first of three rounds this weekend at the Highlands Ranch Country Club. UK opened with a 7-over-par 295 and is tied for sixth place in the 18-team field with two rounds to go.
Kentucky’s 295 is its fourth sub-300 score in six stroke-play rounds this year. Meanwhile, Chang fired UK’s ninth individual round of even par or better this season. The Wildcats had seven all of last season.
“We didn’t play our best today and unfortunately left a lot of shots out there,” head coach Golda Johansson Borst said. “A lot of our struggles came around the greens as we were really pressing to make our birdie putts. We were solid from tee to green and created a great deal of opportunities. With all that said, we are making good progress as a team and we know we have a lot left in the tank for the next two days.”
At 7-over par, Kentucky sits just six shots out of second place. Pepperdine, with an impressive round of 8-under par, leads the tournament.
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.
Play resumes Saturday at the Ron Moore Women’s Intercollegiate at 10:30 a.m. ET with 18 more holes. Live scoring can be found at BirdieFire.com.
Chang was as steady Friday as a freshman can be. She recorded 13 pars and three birdies with just one bogey and one double bogey. The Rancho Cucamonga, California, native was actually under par for most of the round until she double bogeyed her 16th hole of the day. She bounced back with a birdie on her final hole to get to even par and in a tie for 13th place, four shots behind Colorado State’s Katrina Prendergast.
Remarkably, Chang is averaging a 71.67 in her first three career rounds.
Right behind Chang is redshirt junior Ale Walker, who is enjoying a great bounce-back season after missing all of 2015-16 with injuries. Walker sits in a tie for 20th place after a 1-over-par 73 on Friday. She opened the first round with 10 straight pars. A birdie on her 16th hole of the day got her back to 1-over par.
Juniors Isabelle Johansson and senior Jordan Chael are in the mix as well in 38th place. The veterans shot a 3-over-par 75, though they took much different routes to get there.
Chael was the steadier with eight pars in her opening nine holes. Johansson recorded three birdies but was held back by six bogeys.
Freshman Sarah Shipley, who won the individual bracket at the East & West Match Play Challenge two weeks ago, is in a tie for 98th place at 13-over par.
Hosted by the University of Denver, the Ron Moore Women’s Intercollegiate will be the biggest field yet 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.
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