Jensen Castle Completes First Career Round at U.S. Women’s Open
SAN FRANCISCO – Kentucky women’s golfer Jensen Castle made her debut at the U.S. Women’s Open on Thursday and carded a 15-over-par 86.
Playing against the world’s best, Castle is tied for 154th place after a difficult opening round at the premier golf tournament in the world.
Teeing off in the afternoon Thursday at The Olympic Club (par 71, 6,486 yards) in San Francisco, Castle got off to a solid start with pars on the opening two holes, including a nice up-and-down save on the second hole after missing the green short.
But The Olympic Club, with small, elevated greens, narrow fairways and unforgiving rough, made things difficult for the junior-to-be in her first appearance in the U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur. Castle bogeyed the next three holes, parred No. 6, and then went double, bogey, bogey as she made the turn.
After a bogey to start the back nine, Castle enjoyed her best stretch of the day. She made her first birdie at the U.S. Women’s Open on the par-4 11th hole and followed it up with consecutive pars.
Castle hung tough, but her score ballooned when she took a 10 on the par-5 17th. After a par on her final hole, she finished with an 86.
Mel Reid and amateur Megha Ganne are tied atop the leaderboard after day one at 4-under par.
Play resumes Friday at 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. PT) with Castle’s group teeing off first.
Castle is one of just 31 amateurs in the 156-player field. Following the first two rounds, golfers outside the top 60 (plus ties) are cut from the field.
NBC, the GOLF Channel and Peacock will continue televise the championship. Live streaming will be available on USWomensOpen.com, the U.S. Women’s Open mobile app and the USGA streaming app. Live scoring is available at USGA.org.
Teammate Laney Frye is caddying this week for Castle and UK women’s golf head coach Golda Borst is along for the trip as a spectator.
Castle punched her ticket to San Francisco by placing second at a sectional qualifier at Shannopin Country Club in Pittsburgh in May. She defeated professional Rachel Rohanna on the second playoff hole to clinch one of two spots from the Pittsburgh sectional.
Overall, Castle shot 1-under par in the 36-hole qualifier in Pittsburgh to become the second Wildcat in the 11-year Borst era to qualify for the national championship. Anna Hack (2015-17) qualified in 2016. Former UK women’s golfer Mallory Blackwelder (2007-09) competed in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open but did not play for Borst.
The sectional qualifier was one of 22 U.S. Women’s Open qualifying tournaments that fed into the 76th U.S. Women’s Open field. The U.S. Women’s Open is open to female professionals and amateurs with a Handicap Index not exceeding 2.4.
Since U.S. Women’s Open qualifying began in 1976, two champions have been crowned from the thousands who have attempted to play their way into the championship. Hilary Lunke became the first qualifier to win the U.S. Women’s Open in 2003 with an 18-hole playoff victory at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. Birdie Kim became the only other qualifier to win a U.S. Women’s Open with her stunning victory in 2005 at Cherry Hills Country Club.
The 76th U.S. Women’s Open is the 11th USGA championship to be played on the Lake Course at The Olympic Club, including five U.S. Men’s Opens (1955, 1966, 1987, 1998 and 2012).
The championship began in 1946 and some of its notable winners include Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Betsy Rawls, Mickey Wright, Hollis Stacy, Amy Alcott, Meg Mallon, Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak, Juli Inkster, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Inbee Park and Michelle Wie West.
Castle and the Wildcats just completed a breakthrough season. UK qualified for the NCAA Championship finals for the first time since 1992 and tied for 18th place at the national championship. The Wildcats were within a few strokes of qualifying for the final round of stroke play after carding the best 54-hole score at the NCAA Championships final in the program’s sixth all-time appearance.
Castle was key in the 2020-21 success. She was third on the team with a 74.5 stroke average and two top-20 finishes. UK used 30 of Castle’s 33 rounds this season towards the team score as the Wildcats went on to post the third-best scoring average in program history. In Castle’s freshman season, she made the All-Southeastern Conference First Team and set a single-season program record with a 71.88 strokes per round.
Although the U.S. Women’s Open is the most high-profile tournament she has been a part of in her young career, Castle has significant major tournament experience. One of the top prospects out of high school in 2019, Castle has played in a number of major national tournaments outside her Kentucky career, including last year’s 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. She teamed up with Marissa Wenzler this spring at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball and made it to the quarterfinals of the match-play portion of the national tournament.
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.