Ivy Shepherd, Laney Frye Sit in the Top Five at the 2023 SEC Championship
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Two Wildcats went under par to find the top five on the individual leaderboard after the first round of the 2023 Southeastern Conference Women’s Golf Championship at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama. Meanwhile, the University of Kentucky women’s golf team is tied for seventh place thanks to a 6-over-par 294 Wednesday.
No team went under par in the first round of the conference championship. UK is just six shots off the leader, with Vanderbilt pacing the field at even par and Florida in solo second at 2-over.
Playing in her first and her final SEC Championship of her college career, Ivy Shepherd stole the attention of opponents and fans as her name creeped up the individual leaderboard during the first round. The graduate transfer out of Clemson, who is playing at Greystone Golf and Country Club for the first time in her career this week, carded her lone bogey of the day on the first hole but then it was all pars and birdies from there. Her first birdie came on the par-5 No. 3 to get back to even par and remain there for the rest of the front nine.
The Wildcat, who is from Peachtree City, Georgia, did most of her damage on the back nine, capitalizing on another par-5 at No. 11, then firing back-to-back birdies on the par-4 Nos. 14 and 15. She capped the round with three straight pars to produce a 3-under-par 69 for a share of second place ahead of the second round.
Celina Sattelkau of Vanderbilt is at the top of the individual leaderboard at 4-under, just one shot ahead of Shepherd.
Laney Frye was hanging right there with Shepherd for most of the round, while at one point down the stretch the couple were tied for the lead.
Frye, a junior from Lexington, Kentucky, was firing on all cylinders from the starting gate, recording three pars and three birdies through her first six holes to sit alone at the top of the individual leaderboard for the time being. She made her first bogey of the round on the par-4 No. 9, making the turn 2-under. She wasted no time erasing that blemish, coming up with her fourth and last birdie of the round on the par-4 No. 10. The Wildcat then recorded an impressive seven straight pars, before suffering her second bogey of the round on the par-5 No. 18.
She earned a 2-under-par 70 Wednesday, sitting in a tie for fifth place and just two shots behind the leader.
María Villanueva Aperribay, a senior from San Sebastián, Spain, shot a 4-over-par 76 for a share of 47th place. The highlight of her round was the four straight birdies she collected on hole Nos. 2-5, which at the time put her snuggled in the top 10. She finished off her round with eight pars, four bogeys and a double on the par-4 No. 10.
Jensen Castle, a senior from West Columbia, South Carolina, had an unusual round at Greystone Golf and Country Club, turning in a 7-over-par 79 to find a share of 64th place. After knocking in a par on the par-4 first hole, she went bogey-double-bogey-par-bogey to sink to 5-over in just her first six holes. From there, she managed to tap in seven straight pars, before a pair of bogeys on the par-4 Nos. 14 and 16.
Marissa Wenzler got off to a nervous start, quadrupling the par-4 first hole after a fight with a cluster of bunkers. The Dayton, Ohio, native looked to bounce back, going par-birdie over her next two holes, but recorded seven more bogeys through the remainder of her round. The senior earned a 10-over-par 82 to sit in a tie for 69th place, while her score was dropped in the five-play-four format.
The Wildcats will tee off in the second round Thursday beginning at 10:40 a.m. ET, despite an 80 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms forecasted for the day. Kentucky will be paired with Auburn and Georgia tomorrow.
T2 Ivy Shepherd 69 (-3)
T5 Laney Frye 70 (-2)
T47 María Villanueva Aperribay 76 (+4)
T64 Jensen Castle 79 (+7)
T69 Marissa Wenzler 82 (+10)
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