Kentucky Women’s Golf Sets 2019-20 Schedule
LEXINGTON, Ky. – With just over two months until the 2019-20 season begins, the Kentucky women’s golf team has finalized its schedule for the upcoming year with a challenging but opportunity-filled slate of tournaments.
The schedule features nine regular-season stroke-play tournaments, the Southeastern Conference Championship and NCAA postseason play.
Three team tournaments will be repeat stops from a season ago. There is only one new tournament on the slate, but the Wildcats will revive several traditional stops from years past.
“Overall I am very pleased with our schedule,” UK head coach Gold Borst said. “We worked to add some tougher events so that we have an opportunity to face some great teams and to also make our way to some different parts of the country. I believe we will have a strong team and look forward to competing in some of the best tournaments in the country.”
The schedule includes a trip to Puerto Rico, a journey out west for the fourth straight season, and returns to longstanding tournaments like the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational and the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic.
But first, for the second straight year, the Wildcats open the season in Woodbury, Minnesota, at the Minnesota Invitational, Sept. 9-11. The Minnesota Invitational is one of two tournaments in the fall that will follow a 36-hole format on the first day of competition followed by 18 holes on the second day. It will be the fourth time in the last five years UK has played in the Minnesota Invitational. The Wildcats placed fifth last season.
A week later, individuals to be determined later will participate in the MSU Greenbrier Invitational for a second straight season at Lexington’s Greenbrier Country Club. Rikke Svejgård Nielsen won the tournament in her first collegiate appearance as a sophomore last year with a dominating 11-shot victory. Junior-to-be Sarah Fite tied for fifth, a career best.
UK will remain in Lexington for its annual home tournament, the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational, Sept. 27-29. The Bettie Lou will once again take place at the Big Blue Course at the University Club of Kentucky.
The tournament, named after longtime UK head coach (1979-01) and former director of operations (2002-18) Bettie Lou Evans, will be in its 30th season overall and third straight. The return of the Bettie Lou has proven to be fruitful for the Wildcats. UK won last year’s tournament in dominating fashion with a 54-hole school-record score of 858 (6-under par) for the program’s first team title since 2013. Departing senior Leonie Bettel also won the individual title with a 54-hole school-record score of 205 (11-under par), her first of three titles in 2018-19.
Grace Rose shared individual medalist honors in 2017. UK has won the Bettie Lou 12 times overall.
The Wildcats will then head to the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational, Oct. 11-13. UK will play at North Carolina’s home tournament in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for the first time since the fall of 2015. The Tar Heel Invitational was a traditional stop of the Wildcats until only recently with a number of top finishes, including first place in 1989.
UK will close the fall just an hour down the expressway at the Cardinal Cup for Louisville’s annual home tournament. This year’s tournament will remain at the U of L Golf Club and take place Oct. 18-20. The Wildcats appeared in the tournament in back-to-back seasons in 2016 and 2017 with a third-place finish in 2016.
Kentucky will take about a four-month break until returning in February for perhaps the highlight of the spring schedule, Feb 9-11. UK will make its second-ever and first appearance since 2013 in the Lady Puerto Rico Classic. Played at the Rio Mar Country Club and hosted by Purdue, the Lady Puerto Rico Classic is considered one of the top destinations of the early spring schedule because of its location and the competition.
The Wildcats will see Louisville for the second time with the Cardinals’ spring tournament, the Moon Golf Invitational. The two-day tournament (36-18 format) will take place Feb. 17-18 at the Duran Golf Club in Melbourne, Florida.
UK will then return west for its fourth straight appearance at the Clover Cup in Mesa, Arizona, March 13-15. The Wildcats have played well in its previous three showings at Notre Dame’s tournament but last season was the highlight as Bettel won her third championship of the season.
Although Bettel won’t be at this year’s tournament, UK’s other four participants from the 2018 event all finished in the top 45 with top-25 showings from Svejgård Nielsen (tied for 20th) and Ott (tied for 25th). Seniors Sarah Shipley and Josephine Chang have also fared well at the Longbow Golf Club with Shipley tying for ninth in 2018 and Chang tying for 16th in 2017.
Another traditional stop that’s back on the schedule is the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic at the UGA Golf Course in Athens, Georgia. That tournament, which will take place March 20-22, features both stroke and match play and annually attracts some of the top teams in the country, including three top-10 teams a season ago.
UK will remain in the SEC to close out the regular seasons with an April 6-8 visit to the Rebel Intercollegiate at Ole Miss Golf Course. Kentucky posted fifth- and seventh-place showings in 2013 and 2014, respectively, in its two previous stops in Oxford, Mississippi.
“Our spring schedule looks a bit different than in years past,” Borst said. “We wanted to take our team back to Puerto Rico due to the traditionally strong field. The Liz Murphey and the Rebel Intercollegiate are also events that we are looking forward to; there will be a lot of SEC teams at those and I think these two events along with the rest of the spring schedule will help us prepare for the SEC Championship that’s a week later.”
The SEC Championship, slated for April 15-19, returns to the Legacy Course at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama. As always, the SEC Championship is expected to be one of the top conference tournaments of the season, as 12 of the league’s teams made NCAA Regionals last season with six moving on to the NCAA Championships.
For the third straight season, the SEC Championship will mirror NCAA Championships format with three rounds of stroke play followed by two days of match play. The top eight teams will advance to match play.
UK will try to return to NCAA Regionals seventh time in 10 seasons under Borst. Regionals will take place May 11-13 at one of the four following sites: Athens; South Bend, Indiana; Pulliam, Washington; and Raleigh, North Carolina.
The year’s NCAA Championships will be held May 29 through June 3 at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Kentucky will lose one of the most accomplished golfers in school history with Bettel’s departure. She won three tournaments last season, the second most in a single season in school history, and set the new single-season stroke average in school history at 73.16 strokes per round.
However, Borst and her staff have built a roster that’s prepared to step up with a wealth of experience and arguably the most talented signing class in school history. Seniors Shipley and Chang have appeared in a combined 54 events in their careers with a collective eight top-20 showings, while Svejgård Nielsen and Casey Ott showed promise as first-year players with a combined six top-20 finishes.
Jensen Castle, Janika Rüttimann, Marissa Wenzler and Kelsey Wylie will enter as freshmen with a number of state titles and amateur championships on their résumés.
For the latest on the Kentucky women’s golf team, follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.