The Kentucky women’s golf team will find itself in familiar territory against familiar competition for its next tournament.
Starting Friday, the Wildcats will compete in the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic for a second time this season. The University of Georgia hosted a fall version of the tournament to make up for the last spring’s event, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kentucky tied for eighth in the fall tournament against 11 of the league’s 14 schools. All 14 SEC teams will compete at the UGA Golf Course in Athens, Georgia, this week in addition to College of Charleston, Louisville, Southern California and Georgia’s “B” team.
Action for the three-day, 54-hole tournament begins Friday at 8:30 a.m. with live scoring available throughout the weekend at Golfstat.com. UK’s first round will begin at 10:10 a.m.
A familiar five will be in the lineup for the Wildcats with senior Rikke Svejgård Nielsen, freshman Laney Frye, and sophomores María Villanueva Aperribay, Jensen Castle and Marissa Wenzler.
“We are looking forward to playing in Athens again this week,” UK head coach Golda Borst said. “Our team knows the course and they know what to expect as far as the greens, approach shots, etc., which I think will help us a great deal. We will once again face a very strong field and we’re excited about the opportunity to compete at a high level. We will be taking a young, yet experienced team, and I believe the best is still to come from this group.”
With the SEC-wide presence, this weekend will once again feature a stiff challenge for the Wildcats. Thirteen of the 18 teams are ranked in the Golfstat top 50, nine are in the top 25 and four are in the top 10.
Kentucky’s appearance in the November tournament was its best showing of the fall. UK posted its lowest 54-hole (21-over-par 885) and 18-hole (2-over-par 288 in the second round) scores of the three autumn tournaments. Wenzler paced the individual Wildcats by tying for 22nd at 5-over par with Frye (tied for 26th at 7-over par) and Castle (tied for 33rd 8-over par) close behind.
UK is coming off at 15th-place finish at the Gamecock Intercollegiate to start March. The event featured some of the best teams in the country. The Wildcats hung tough until faltering in the final round.
This Liz Murhpey Collegiate Classic will mark the fourth tournament of the spring and the seventh overall in the 2020-21 Kentucky season. The Wildcats will wrap up the regular season at the LSU Tiger Golf Classic to start April before shifting their attention to the postseason.
UK appears to be in good position to make NCAA regionals as an at-large candidate but is still seeking the type of consistency that led to a breakthrough 2020-21 campaign.
Svejgård Nielsen will try to set the tone from the No. 1 position. The senior has not yet matched her 2018-19 and 2019-20 success, but she remains among UK’s most experienced and accomplished players with seven top-10 showings in her three seasons at Kentucky.
Frye continues to lead the Wildcats as a freshman. With 73.7 strokes per round, she leads Castle my mere fractions for the team’s top scoring average. She is also tied with Castle with a team-high two top-20 finishes and paces the squad with seven rounds of par or better.
Villanueva Aperribay, a transfer out of Augusta, will try to rebound from a 74th-place showing at the Gamecock Intercollegiate. She played in the fall version of the tournament for the first of her five straight appearances and tied for 38th.
Castle is coming off her best all-around showing of 2020-21. In tying for 15th place in Columbia, South Carolina, Castle tied her season low with a 54-hole score of 218, 2-over par. She fired a 73 in the first round, a 70 in the second round and closed with a 70. The team has used her score in all 18 available rounds this season.
Wenzler is back in the lineup after a one-tournament hiatus. Her best showing of the season was at Murphey Fall Collegiate Classic, where she tied for 22nd with a score of 5-over par. The sophomore has been unable to duplicate that success in the spring, but the Wildcats are hoping she can rekindle the form that saw her post the third-best single-season scoring average a season ago.
The Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic originally began in 1973 as the Georgia Invitational and was contested as the Women’s Southern Intercollegiates from 1977-94. In 1995, the tourney was renamed in honor of Liz Murphey, UGA’s Hall of Fame golf coach and longtime senior woman administrator.
The UGA Golf Course is a par 71 Robert Trent Jones layout and will play at 6,302 yards. It was renovated by Love Golf Design in 2006.
– GO CATS –
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