Jensen Castle Concludes U.S. Women’s Open Run
SAN FRANCISCO – Kentucky women’s golfer Jensen Castle concluded her first career run at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open on Friday.
Castle closed her debut at golf’s premier championship with an 8-over-par 79 at The Olympic Club (par 71, 6,486 yards) in San Francisco. The junior-to-be shaved seven strokes off her first-round score but will not make the weekend cut. The top 60 (plus ties) move on this weekend to the final two rounds.
Playing against the world’s best, Castle finished in 150th at 23-over par. She was one of just 31 amateurs in the 156-player field.
The Olympic Club, with small, elevated greens, narrow fairways and unforgiving rough, challenged Castle in the first round, but the Kentucky Wildcat showed resiliency on Friday with an improved score and a strong finish.
At 9-over par on the day heading into her final six holes, Castle finished her run with five pars and a birdie to finish what she hopes is the first of regular appearances in the U.S. Women’s Open.
Although the week proved to be difficult for the up-and-coming Castle, she had the opportunity to play among golf’s elite by qualifying for the national tournament. 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 Golda 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.
Castle was not the only Wildcat this week to take in the valuable opportunity of playing among the world’s best golfers. Teammate Laney Frye, who was a freshman on this past season’s UK women’s golf team, caddied for Castle this week. Head coach Golda Borst was along for the trip as a spectator.
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. Kentucky was 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 was 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.