Women's Golf

Kentucky Women’s Golf Releases 2021-22 Schedule

by Eric Lindsey

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Coming off the program’s first NCAA Championship Finals appearance in 29 years, the Kentucky women’s golf team unveiled the roadmap to what it hopes is a second consecutive trip to the national championship with the unveiling of the 2021-22 schedule.
 
UK will play in nine regular-season events before the Southeastern Conference Championship and postseason play. After navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wildcats will return to a traditional schedule with four tournaments in the fall, four in the spring, a head-to-head matchup with rivalry Louisville and then the postseason.
 
Kentucky will take on the 2021-22 schedule with the heart of the breakthrough 2020-21 team. Although Sarah Shipley and Josephine Chang departed as fifth-year seniors, UK will return all five players – Rikke Svejgård Nielsen, Jensen Castle, María Villanueva Aperribay, Marissa Wenzler and Laney Frye – who clinched the first NCAA Championships finals appearance since 1992.
 
“We are really excited about our schedule this year,” UK head coach Golda Borst said. “It’s very balanced and we will be competing against the best teams in the country every time we tee it up. Our team thrives in tough competition and we can’t wait to get going in early September up in Michigan.”
 
Play begins Sept. 13-14 in the Wolverine Invitational at the University of Michigan Golf Course in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It will mark UK’s first appearance in the event, but the Wildcats are familiar with the Wolverines after seeing them in the 2021 NCAA Columbus Regional and at the NCAA Championship Finals in Scottsdale, Arizona. Michigan Golf Course will also serve as one of four NCAA Regionals this season.
 
Kentucky will play in the Mason Rudolph Championship for the first time since the 2014-15 season when it visits Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tennessee, Sept. 24-26. UK played in the tournament for three consecutive years in the fall of 2012, 2013 and 2014 but never finished better than eighth in a field that is typically SEC heavy and strong.
 
After a one-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wildcats will return to the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational, Oct. 15-17. Hosted annually by North Carolina at the UNC Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Kentucky challenged for the 2019 crown with a 36-hole lead before a rainy and windy final round foiled the historic start to the 2019-20 campaign.
 
The fall season will conclude Oct. 25-27 at the Ally at Old Waverly Golf Club in Starkville, Mississippi. UK appeared in last season’s event and finished in 12th place.
 
Kentucky will take nearly three months off for the winter before the spring slate begins. First up will be a head-to-head matchup vs. Louisville in the annual Battle of the Bluegrass. This season’s edition will take place Jan. 17 at a course to be determined. It will be a match-play format.
 
The Wildcats will be back to tournament play Feb. 6-8 at the UCF Challenge. UK has been a frequent visitor competitor at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Florida, with eight appearances in the first 11 seasons of the Borst Era, including a seventh-place finish a season ago when both Castle and Villanueva tied for 19th place individually.
 
Perhaps the toughest layout the Wildcats will face all season will be Feb. 28-March 2 at Long Cove Club in Hilton Head, South Carolina, for the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate. Consistently ranked among the top golf courses in the country, it annually delivers big numbers for teams willing to test its might. Kentucky last appeared in the Darius Rucker in 2016, although UK played in South Carolina’s alternate tournament last season, the Gamecock Intercollegiate.
 
The most familiar stop on schedule will be what the Wildcats hope is the first of two trips to Arizona. The March 11-13 tournament will be a return to the Clover Cup at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, less than 30 minutes away from the site of the NCAA Championship Finals. Kentucky has enjoyed prior success at Notre Dame’s annual spring tournament with top-five showings in three straight seasons from 2016 to 2018 and back-to-back third-place finishes, including an individual championship for alumnus Leonie Bettel in the Wildcats’ last appearance. UK was in the middle of its practice round at the 2020 Clover Cup when the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The regular-season spring schedule will conclude March 25-27 at the Clemson Invitational at Lake Keowee. UK last appeared in the event at the Reserve at Lake Keowee in Sunset, South Carolina, in 2019.
 
The SEC Championship, slated for April 13-17, returns to the Legacy Course at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Hoover, 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 the 2021 NCAA Regionals with seven moving on to the NCAA Championship Finals and Ole Miss winning the national championship.
 
The SEC Championship will once again mirror the NCAA Championship Finals format with three rounds of stroke play followed by two days of match play. The top eight teams will advance to match play.
 
NCAA Regional play will be May 9-11. This year’s regional sites will be hosted by New Mexico, Michigan, Oklahoma State and Florida State. UK made NCAA Regionals for the seventh time in 11 seasons in the Borst era last season and broke through with a fourth-place finish to make the NCAA Championship Finals.
 
The 2022 NCAA Championship Finals will return to Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, May 20-25. Kentucky tied for 18th place last season at the national championship and hopes to return for a second consecutive year after its invaluable experience in 2021.
 
Of the 165 rounds played in 2020-21, 162 will be back on the 2021-22 roster. Those returns include Frye, 2021 SEC All-Freshman performer; Castle, the school’s single-season stroke record holder; Svejgård Nielsen, the 2021 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year who has played in 27 events at UK with four top-10 finishes and 10 top-20 showings; and Villanueva Aperribay, who posted four Kentucky’s five best 18-hole scores in 2021-22.
 
Wenzler, who posted the third-best stroke average in program history, will be back as a junior, as will Casey Ott, who hopes to regain her 2019-20 form when she placed in the top 10 in three of six events. Wenzler is enjoying a sensational summer after winning both the stroke-play and match-play format of the Women’s Western Amateur Championship.
 
Kentucky’s returners have had an active summer. Castle appeared in the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open and won the 2021 Carolinas Four-Ball Championship, Villanueva Aperribay, Svejgård Nielsen and incoming freshman Marta López Echevarría played in the European Ladies’ Amateur Championship, and Castle, Frye and Wenzler will compete Aug. 2-8 in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in Rye, New York.
 
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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