UK Women’s Golf Adds UCF Challenge to Spring Schedule
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women’s golf team has added the UCF Challenge to its spring slate.
The tournament will begin the spring schedule on Jan. 31. It will be a three-day, 54-round tournament and the first of five spring tournaments before postseason play.
Four tournaments were previously set and announced in December. Following COVID-19 safety guidance from university health officials and the Southeastern Conference, four of the five tournaments will be in SEC-hosted events only.
The SEC approved league membership to play in tournaments within the league footprint in the spring. To keep COVID-19 testing protocols consistent, UK will only play in tournaments hosted by other league schools or that have similar testing protocols.
The Wildcats last played in the UCF Challenge in February 2017, where former UK star Isabelle Johansson recorded one of the lowest 54-hole totals in school history, an 8-under-par 208. The tournament will once again be held at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Florida.
Kentucky’s second spring tournament will also be in Florida, at the Florida Gators Invitational presented by Vystar, Feb. 21-23. The tournament, hosted by Florida at Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville, is nearly 50 years old, but this will mark Kentucky’s first appearance in the event since 2012.
South Carolina will host a tournament as previously planned on March 1-3, but the location and tournament name have changed. Previously, the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate was scheduled to be played at Long Cove Club in Hilton Head, South Carolina. The tournament has been moved to Columbia Country Club in Columbia, South Carolina, and will be called the Gamecock Intercollegiate.
The Wildcats will compete in the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic on March 19-21 in Athens, Georgia. Georgia hosted a fall edition of the tournament in November to make up for the previously canceled 2020 spring edition. UK competed in the fall tournament and finished in a tie for eighth place. The Wildcats found some success at the UGA Golf Course with a 21-over-par 885, Kentucky’s best 54-hole total of the fall. The Wildcats were scheduled to appear in the 2020 spring tournament before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the rest of the season.
The regular season will end April 6-7 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with the LSU Tiger Golf Classic. It will be a familiar stop for both Kentucky and Borst. The LSU Tiger Golf Classic was an annual spring stop for UK for more than a decade until the Wildcats’ last appearance in 2017, and Borst served as an assistant at LSU for three seasons prior to taking the head-coaching reins at Kentucky. LSU’s home tournament will be the only 36-18 two-day format of the spring. The University Club is also one of four NCAA regional sites this season.
The postseason schedule remains unchanged. The Greystone Golf & Country Club’s Legacy Course in Hoover, Alabama, will continue to host the SEC Championship, which is still slated for April 14-18. 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 the 2018 NCAA Regionals with six moving on to the NCAA Championships. In the final fall Golfstat rankings, 12 of the top 25 teams hailed from the SEC.
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.
NCAA Regionals will remain May 10-12 at one of the four following sites: Simpsonville, Kentucky (Louisville); Columbus, Ohio (Ohio State); Baton Rouge, Louisiana (LSU); or Palo Alto, California (Stanford). UK will try to return to NCAA Regionals seventh time in 11 seasons under Borst.
Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale will get another chance to host the NCAA Championships, May 21-26. The course was slated to host the national finals in three straight seasons from 2020 to 2022.
Kentucky still has high expectations with a talented and deep roster. The Wildcats battled inconsistencies and a difficult SEC-based schedule in the fall, but UK returned the bulk of the 2019-20 team that won two championships, placed second in another, set team and individual scoring records, and posted 10 top-10 and 20 top-20 individual showings.
In addition to sophomores Jensen Castle and Marissa Wenzler, who posted the best and third-best single-season stroke averages in school history as freshmen in 2019-20, UK added freshman Laney Frye and sophomore transfer María Villanueva Aperribay from Augusta. Frye led Kentucky with a 73.9 stroke average and a top-10 finish.
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.