Women's Golf

Castle, Wenzler to Compete in 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur

by Eric Lindsey

ROCKVILLE, Md. – Two Kentucky women’s golfers will compete in the premier national amateur golf tournament this week in Maryland.
 
Sophomores-to-be Jensen Castle and Marissa Wenzler are a part of the 132-player field in the 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Female amateurs from across the world will compete Monday through next Sunday at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville for the United States national amateur championship.
 
Played annually and organized by the United States Golf Association, the tournament has been played since 1895. There are no age restrictions, but to make the field is an achievement within itself.
 
Because of health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s field will be comprised of exempt players based on a variety of exemption categories, including the winners and runners-up in three national amateur competitions that were conducted in July: the North & South Women’s Amateur, Women’s Western Amateur and Ladies National Golf Association Amateur Championship. The remaining spots are being filled from the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.
 
Castle made the field by way of the WAGR ranking. Wenzler earned her way in last week with a runner-up finish at the Ladies National Amateur. The two Kentucky qualifications are the most of the 10-year Golda Borst era. The two are believed to be a school record, although records are inconclusive.
 
The inclusion of Castle and Wenzler into the nation’s top amateur golf tournament shouldn’t come as a surprise after the then-freshman duo led Kentucky to a breakthrough season. Posting the best stroke averages on the team – and two of the top three marks in single-season school history – Castle and Wenzler guided UK to two team titles, a runner-up finish and the best scoring average in school history. Collectively, the two combined for three of Kentucky’s top-10 performances and eight of the Wildcats’ 20 top-20 showings.
 
The U.S. Women’s Amateur gets underway on Monday morning at 7 a.m. with the first of two days of 18-hole play. The field will be trimmed after Tuesday’s second round to 64 and proceed with five ensuing rounds of match play until a champion is crowned Sunday. Castle (12:03 p.m.) and Wenzler (12:45 p.m.) will tee off in the afternoon.
 
The Golf Channel will begin its coverage of the tournament starting Wednesday at 4 p.m.
 
Past notable champions include Julie Inkster (1980-82), Grace Park (1998), Morgan Pressel (2005), Danielle Kang (2010-11) and Kristen Gillman (2014, 2018).
 
Woodmont Country Club, an Alfred H. Tull design, will play as a par 72 at 6,561 yards.
 
Castle and Wenzler have enjoyed sensational summers. Wenzler owns two championships to go along with two runner-up performances, the last of which earned her a spot into the U.S. Amateur field. Last month, Castle teamed up with Wake Forest’s Rachel Kuehn to win the Carolinas Women’s Four-Ball Championship with a record score of 16-under par. 
 
The Wildcats have won six titles since the end of the 2019-20 season with a number of other top finishes. 

  • Jensen Castle – Carolinas Women’s Four Ball Championship (championship)
  • Sarah Fite – The Marion Miley (third place)
  • Laney Frye – Pete & Alice Dye Junior Invitational (championship), Metropolitan Women’s Amateur Championship (second place)
  • Casey Ott – Arkansas State Golf Association’s Women’s Stroke Play Championship (second place)
  • Janika Rüttimann – Vorarlberger Landesmeisterschaften (championship)
  • Rikke Svejgård Nielsen – VejleMatchen (lost in playoff)
  • María Villanueva Aperribay – Championship of the Principality of Asturias Absolute Women 2020 (championship)
  • Marissa Wenzler – Metropolitan Women’s Amateur Championship (championship), Heritage Classic (championship) Myrtle Beach Collegiate, (second place), Ladies National Golf Association Amateur Championship (second place)

Castle, the most decorated signee in program history, lived up to high expectations in her freshman season by setting the school’s new single-season stroke average record (71.88 per 18 holes), by becoming UK’s first All-Southeastern Conference First Team pick since Cindy Mueller in 1989 – and the first to do so as a freshman – and by placing in the top 20 in five of six events, the best mark on the team. She also added two top-10 showings and 11 of 17 rounds at par or better, a team high and the third-best mark in school history despite the shortened season. The team used her score in 15 of 17 rounds.
 
Wenzler was nearly just as good. The 2018 Ohio High School Athletic Association state champion competed in all six team events and posted a 73.18 stroke average, the third-best mark in school history. In her first season of college golf, Wenzler posted three top-20 finishes, including tying for sixth at the Cardinal Cup. Six of her 17 rounds were par or better, and the team used her scoring in 15 of 17 rounds, tied for the team high.
 
Kentucky’s 2020-21 schedule was released last month. Arguably the most talented, deepest and most experienced team in UK women’s golf history will take on a difficult schedule that’s filled with familiar stops and some of the nation’s best competition. The Wildcats will play in eight regular-season events before the SEC Championship and NCAA postseason play.
 
UK returns nine of 10 players from the record-setting 2019-20 season. That group won two team championships, set a new team scoring record and posted 10 top-10 individual finishes.
 
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.
 

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