The Kentucky women’s golf team will open the spring season Monday facing a familiar opponent under unique circumstances.
Scheduled to play Louisville in the fourth annual Battle of the Bluegrass, the Wildcats will play the No. 24 Cardinals this year a part of the Florida Challenge, which also includes No. 18 Florida, host South Florida, Miami, UCF, Jacksonville and Florida International.
“This year’s Battle of the Bluegrass looks a little different as we are playing it within a different tournament,” UK women’s golf head coach Golda Borst said. “We usually have this event against Louisville as a way to compete early in the season, so this opportunity will be even better as we get to compete against several top teams.”
The one-day tournament will be played in a 36-hole format and will take place at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, Florida. Live scoring will be available Monday at GolfStat.com. A shotgun start is scheduled for 7:45 a.m.
“We are looking forward to getting back to competing on Monday,” Borst said. “Our practices at home have been really competitive and focused and our team is ready to face some tough teams in the Florida Challenge and the Battle of the Bluegrass.”
Kentucky is coming off a strong fall season that included three top-10 finishes, one top-five showing and a 75.9 stroke average. Individually, UK posted two top-10 finishes and two top-20 showings, highlighted by Grace Rose’s co-championship at the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational and Leonie Bettel’s two top-20 finishes.
Kentucky will use that momentum to defend the Battle of the Bluegrass championship while simultaneously competing with top Florida programs. UK edged the Cardinals in last year’s Battle of the Bluegrass.
Four of the eight teams in the field, including Kentucky, are ranked in the top 50 of Golfstat.
It’s been three months since the Wildcats have seen tournament action, concluding their fall season in October at the Landfall Tradition. Competing in a field that featured nine teams ranked in Golfstat’s top 25, UK fired a second-round score of 290 (2-over-par) to help the Wildcats finish better than four top-50 teams in the weather-shortened tournament in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Other impact performances by UK in the fall included a 54-hole team low of 865 (13-over-par) at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship, a combined 12 rounds of even par or better by individuals and four top-20 individual finishes.
With a successful fall schedule at their heels, the Wildcats will seek even better results in a competitive spring season. By season’s end, UK hopes to not only make a seventh NCAA regional appearance in eight years under Borst, but make it to the NCAA Championships as a team for the first time since 1992 as well. The Wildcats will begin the spring ranked No. 50 in Golfstat.
Making the trip for Kentucky is Rose, Bettel, senior Isabelle Johansson, junior Claire Carlin and sophomore Josephine Chang. Freshman Sarah Fite will compete as an individual.
Rose captured the Battle of the Bluegrass championship in 2017 competing as an individual. She recorded two even-par rounds to secure her first collegiate win. Rose brought that same fire to the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational in the fall, posting her best collegiate 54-hole total of 211 (5-under-par) for the co-championship, her first title in a tournament. In addition, Rose’s final score broke the record for the best 54-hole score in 28 years of the tournament.
Bettel had a record-setting performance in the fall as well, recording a 65 (6-under-par) in the final round of the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship, the best round in 21 years of the tournament. She snagged the team’s lowest individual score of the season and posted her best collegiate 18-hole round. Bettel total two top-20 finishes in the fall.
Johansson secured a top-10 showing at the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational in the fall with a 220 (4-over-par). Her finish at the Bettie Lou helped Kentucky card its only top-five finish. Johansson has a 74.6 scoring average for the season and holds the program single-season record for lowest scoring average with a 73.42.
Carlin will be a promising candidate in her second appearance in the Battle of the Bluegrass. She has two finishes inside the top 50 from the fall session. Chang competed in two fall events as an individual. The spring opener will be Chang’s first tournament appearance competing for Kentucky this season. Fite will compete in her third collegiate tournament as an individual in her young career.
“We have an experienced group with us who are ready to compete,” Borst said. “We can’t wait to take on these teams on Monday.”
Kentucky met Louisville once this season at Louisville’s home tournament, the Cardinal Cup. UK finished just inside the top 10 with a 921. Bettel was Kentucky’s top finisher in a tie for 13th place.
The Battle of the Bluegrass will be played on the Quarry Course at Black Diamond Ranch. The course will set up at 6,039 yards, a par 72.
The Quarry Course will present elevation changes, classic bunkering and fairways framed with thousands of beautiful live oaks, dogwoods, myrtles and magnolias. The 14th, 15th and 16th holes are carved over and around canyon walls and combine challenging shot-marking opportunities. Called by writer Dan Jenkins “the best five consecutive holes of golf anywhere in the world,” the stretch ends with the 218-yard par-3 17th. The 17th drops down into the smaller quarry to a green guarded left and rear by 30-foot high limestone cliffs.
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.
Associate Director of Media Relations
Men’s Basketball and Women’s Golf