Cats Back on Top, Second Round Paused Because of Lightning, Darkness
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The University of Kentucky women’s golf team is right back in familiar terrain, once again sitting at the top of the leaderboard after the first two rounds at the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational. Despite play stopping due to lightning and darkness near the end of the second round Monday, the Wildcats are leading the 14-team field through 33 to 36 holes at the Governors Club Golf Course.
The Cats put together a 2-over-par 290 in the first round Monday, good for third place. Without much of a break, the lineup made the turn to begin the second round and its eventual launch to become the leaders in the clubhouse at the end of the night.
The same fivesome that won a tournament championship last week is currently leading the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational field by a couple of strokes, with No. 1 Wake Forest in second place two strokes back and host North Carolina in third place five strokes behind. None of the top three teams, Kentucky included, have completed their second rounds, playing just 15 to 18 holes before play was paused.
Still to finish the second round for the Cats are Laney Frye, who has hole Nos. 16-18 to play, and Marissa Wenzler, who has the par-4 No. 1 to play. The Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational will resume the second round Tuesday at 9 a.m. ET, followed by going right into the final round.
Much is riding on those three remaining holes for Frye, as the junior from Lexington, Kentucky, is in a share for the tournament lead. She turned in a 4-under-par 68 in the first round, which marked her fifth round in the 60s since the start of the season (through 10 rounds). In the first round, she went 2-under on the front nine with a blemish-free seven pars and two birdies. She continued her streak to 3-under through 11 holes, until she suffered her one-and-only bogey on the par-3 No. 12. She rallied four more pars and two more birdies to finish out her first 18 holes, producing her third straight round in the 60s (a streak that began in her last tournament at the Illini Women’s Invitational).
Through 15 holes in the second round, Frye is currently 2-under after collecting five birdies, a bogey and a double. If she is able to repeat herself, the junior has two birdie opportunities waiting for her on hole Nos. 16 and 17 to, at last, close out her second round.
Frye is tied with Phoebe Brinker from Duke for the tournament lead, who still has to finish one more hole in the second round, too. The field is just one stroke behind the pair of individual leaders.
“Our team played with great poise today,” said head coach Golda Borst. “They found their rhythm throughout the day, and I’m really proud of them. They all battled until the end and we look forward to getting back out there tomorrow!”
Jensen Castle absolutely found her rhythm, going from a first-round 74 to a second-round 67. The senior from West Columbia, South Carolina, got off to a strong start, going 1-under through her first four holes. However, seven pars and four bogeys over her next 11 holes made it hard to make a comeback.
Instead, the veteran simply made her comeback in the second round, putting together a spotless 5-under-par 67 before the lightening. The round featured 13 pars and five birdies, while it marked her fourth round in the 60s in 2022-23. It helped Castle jump 13 spots on the individual leaderboard, as the Cat boasts a 3-under-par 141 for the tournament and a share of seventh place.
María Villanueva Aperribay also completed all 36 holes Monday.
The senior from San Sebastián, Spain, paired a 1-over-par 73 in the first round with a 1-under-par 71 in the second round, sitting solid at even par for the tournament in a tie for 14th place. She recorded a bogey on both her first and last holes of the second round, but she showed resiliency when she sandwiched four birdies in between.
The Wildcat’s 1-under-par 71 in the second round is her third round under par in the last four rounds.
Marissa Wenzler is still looking to cross the finish line, as she just needs to play the par-4 No. 1 in the morning before beginning the final round. The senior from Dayton, Ohio, recorded a 3-over-par 75 through her first 18 holes, while she is currently sitting at 4-over-par 76 in the second round. She is tied for 50th place thus far, with 19 holes remaining.
Graduate student and Peachtree City, Georgia, native Ivy Shepherd rallied an 8-over-par 80 in the first round. However, she shed six strokes of her first 18 holes to produce a 2-over-par 74 in her second 18 holes Monday. Shepherd has a 10-over-par 154 and is tied for 62nd place in the 73-person individual field.
The Wildcats can expect sunnier skies Tuesday, though it will still be brisk. There is a high of 57 degrees with calmer winds. The Cats will tee off at 9 a.m. ET on hole Nos. 1-4, paired with the Tar Heels and Michigan State.