Strong Back Nine Boosts Cats to Fifth Place at Clemson Invitational
SUNSET, S.C. – The University of Kentucky women’s golf team landed in fifth place after the first round of the Clemson Invitational at The Reserve at Lake Keowee in Sunset, South Carolina. The Wildcats found 10 birdies on the back nine, making a late push to assemble a 3-over-par 291 Friday.
“Our team showed a lot of fight and resilience today,” said head coach Golda Borst. “We unfortunately had to pull Jensen (Castle) from the tournament due to injury, but our team handled it well and faced the challenge head on. We are very proud of them and look forward to getting back out on the course tomorrow!”
Kentucky is just three strokes behind third place, which is occupied by Southeastern Conference foe and No. 3 LSU (+2). No. 17 Ole Miss is in second place (-1), while host Clemson is in the lead (-7).
Ivy Shepherd and Marissa Wenzler are pacing Kentucky, after recording matching rounds of even-par 72 Friday. The pair of teammates, who were fourth and fifth in the lineup heading into the tournament, are in a tie for 14th place after the first round.
Shepherd, a graduate transfer from Clemson, is competing in the final regular-season tournament of her career, which just so happens to be hosted by her alma mater. She had a calm front nine at The Reserve at Lake Keowee, recording eight pars and one bogey on the par-4 No. 3. She then picked up back-to-back birdies on the first two holes of the back nine, before suffering a couple of bogeys over her next five holes. With just two holes remaining in the first round and sitting at +1, Shepherd tapped in a clutch birdie on the par-4 No. 18 to come out even par.
Meanwhile, Wenzler, a senior from Dayton, Ohio, has put together statement scorecards in her last two first rounds. The Wildcat got off to a hot start at the Clemson Invitational, going -2 through her first eight holes on a trio of birdies and one bogey. She did endure a bogey-double stretch on hole Nos. 9 and 10, but she mounted a comeback on a birdie-par-birdie stretch over her next three holes. Despite capping the first round with another bogey on the par-4 No. 18, Wenzler still managed to go even par for a share of 14th place.
She led the team with five birdies Friday.
The rest of the lineup was just one and two more strokes back, respectively.
María Villanueva Aperribay had a resilient round, from producing a +3 on the front nine to a -2 on the back nine for a 1-over-par 73 and a share of 24th place. The senior’s front nine included one double, two bogeys, one birdie and five pars. She made the turn with a renewed mindset, recording three birdies and just one bogey over the next five holes to get back to +1 for the first time since the start of the first round.
Laney Frye returned to the lineup in Sunset, after sitting out of last weekend’s Florida State Match Up. She formed a 2-over-par 74 for a share of 30th place in the first round of the Clemson Invitational. Like Villanueva Aperribay, she, too, went +3 on the front nine on the same exact combo as her teammate – one double, two bogeys, one birdie and five pars. However, the junior began the back nine with a birdie on the par-4 No. 10 to get back down to +2, where she finished the first round tied for 30th place.
Jensen Castle was unavailable (rib) for the first round and is considered day-to-day.
The Wildcats will tee off in the second round in a shotgun format Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. The change in the format was a result of incoming weather.
T14 Ivy Shepherd 72 (E)
T14 Marissa Wenzler 72 (E)
T24 María Villanueva Aperribay 73 (+1)
T30 Laney Frye 74 (+2)
WD Jensen Castle (I)