GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Kentucky women’s golf team wrapped up its first of four events over the next seven weeks at the Florida Gators Invitational Presented by VyStar on Monday with two of its top 18-hole scores this season.
UK ascended into the 10th spot on the final day behind 2-over-par rounds from sophomores Jensen Castle and María Villanueva Aperribay on the final day of play. The Wildcats’ rounds of 287 and 292 in the second and third rounds, respectively, make up two of the top six 18-hole scores for the season.
Those rounds made up for a rough start to the week at Mark Bostick Golf Course (6,002 yards, par 72) in Gainesville, Florida.
“Obviously we were really disappointed after round one, but it was good to see them come back with a fighting spirit on day two and day three,” UK head coach Golda Borst said. “We gave away some shots still and I know they have a lot left in their tank and we are coming away a little disappointed after this, but we still have some positives to take from this for sure.”
Freshman Laney Frye was UK’s top finisher for the second time this season with a tie for 15th following rounds of 72-70-75 for a 7-over par scorecard for the tournament. It is her second career top-15 finish in just five collegiate events.
“Laney has a very bright future,” Borst said. “She has to learn how to manage her emotions and her thoughts when things are going well, and then when there is a small hiccup in a round, how to be able to handle that tough situation. And that’s something you learn over time. But I’m excited for Laney’s future. I think there is a lot of good stuff ahead for her. It’s just keeping her steady and confident as we move forward knowing that she is a good player and for her to just put in the work and let it show.”
Ole Miss and the host Gators both finished at 16-over par for the tournament to tie as co-champions. Alabama and Maryland tied at 23-over par for third. Kentucky concluded the event tied for 10th after shooting a combined 42-over par. Florida’s Annabell Fuller was the individual champion at 5-under par.
“We have a really good team,” Borst said. “We just have to believe that we are a good team. Each individual player has to believe that they are going to make the putt, that they are going to execute the shot. I think that is our biggest weakness right now. The more we play, the more confidence we will get. I feel really good about (staying on the road) these next four days heading into our South Carolina event. We have a lot of good golf ahead of us.”
Castle capped the week at 9-over with rounds of 76-71-72 and tied for 23rd overall. She finished her tournament in style by rolling in her lone birdie of the day on the final hole. This marks the third top-25 finish of the season for the West Columbia, South Carolina, native and the eighth of her career.
Villanueva Apperibay moved into a tie for 35th at 11-over par after her final-round 72. It was her best round of the week for the sophomore, who had three birdies Tuesday.
Sophomore Marissa Wenzler tied for 52nd after shooting a 73 during the final 18 holes. She matched Villanueva’s three birdies for the team high on Tuesday. Wenzler rebounded nicely from an 81 in the opening round to shoot 4-oever par over the final two days.
Senior Rikke Svejgård Nielsen was 73rd overall with a final round of 80 to finish at 27-over par overall.
This week’s tournament marked the first of four tournaments for the Wildcats over the next seven weeks. Kentucky next travels to the Gamecock Intercollegiate March 1-3 in Columbia, South Carolina. UK will remain on the road with a quick turnaround.
“We’re going to play a lot of golf,” Borst said. “That’s something that we haven’t been able to do (with the weather back home), so we’re going to play a lot and do a ton of short game (work). It’s good for this group to be together. This group jells really good together. We have a lot of fun, so we’re going to put in a lot of hard work and try to get some good energy for the next tournament.”
Of the 14 teams in this week’s field, eight were from the Southeastern Conference. Eight teams were ranked in the Golfstat top 25.
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