Kentucky Women’s Golf Announces Challenging 2016-17 Schedule
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LEXINGTON, Ky. – When head coach Golda Johansson Borst put together this season’s schedule for the Kentucky women’s golf team, she had one objective in mind: to put her players in the best positions to grow and succeed.
With a slate full of new tournaments as well as return trips to tournaments that annually bring in some of the nation’s best competition, the 2016-17 schedule was constructed to grow early, learn fast and succeed when it counts the most.
“We worked hard to create a different tournament schedule for this coming season,” Borst said. “We have gone to a lot of the same events in the past few years and it was time to switch things up. The goal was to take our team to different parts of the country so they can experience different types of fields and see teams that they aren't used to. This, I believe, will provide our team with a better chance of success against a wider number of teams which will help prepare us better for postseason.”
UK’s 2016-17 slate features seven regular-season stroke play tournaments, a match-play event, a dual-match, the Southeastern Conference Championship, and, the Wildcats hope, a return to NCAA postseason play.
It features three different trips out west and annual stops at some traditionally strong tournaments in the southeast, but like last season, Kentucky’s season will start up north.
The Wildcats will play in the Minnesota Invitational for the second consecutive season on Sept. 12-13. UK appeared in the tournament for the first time last year at the historic Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, where senior Jordan Chael recorded a top-10 finish and senior Megan Kinney recorded her first career hole-in-one. The Minikahda Club is the oldest country club west of the Mississippi.
UK will remain north for a unique event in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the Wildcats will play in the East & West Match Play Challenge, Sept. 18-20. The three-day event, which alternates between tournament hosts Michigan and Wisconsin, will start with 36 holes of stroke play at Radrick Farms in Michigan to seed the competing teams, followed by team match play to decide a winner.
“I decided to take the team back to Minnesota for the fall kick off,” Borst said. “This was such a great event last year and we like the course so it made sense for us to go back. After this we have a match-play event scheduled to give us some experience in a different format. This is what we will see at the national championship so I wanted us to get a feel for what match play will look like for our team.”
The Wildcats will take nearly three weeks off before heading west Oct. 7-9 to the Ron Moore Women’s Intercollegiate at the Highlands Ranch Country Club in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. The tournament, which is hosted by the University of Denver, will be a first-time stop in the Borst era.
The fall season will close for the Wildcats Oct. 23-25 just a short drive down Interstate 64 at the U of L Golf Club in Simpsonville, Kentucky, for the Cardinal Cup. Last year’s field featured eight teams in Golfstat’s top-70 rankings.
After a break for the winter, UK will meet Louisville again, only this time in a dual-match format. The two teams will square off in the third annual Battle of the Bluegrass on Jan. 30. A site has yet to be determined.
For the fourth straight season, Kentucky will return to the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Florida, for the UCF Challenge. This season’s version will be played Feb. 5-7. UK tied for fifth at the 2015 UCF Challenge with three players finishing in the top 20, including returning juniors Isabelle Johansson and Grace Rose.
Following more than a month in between tournaments, the Wildcats will get very busy with three tournaments in four weeks before postseason play.
That stretch begins with the Clover Cup March 17-19. Notre Dame will serve as the host for a sixth straight season, but the annual tournament is held far ahead from South Bend, Indiana, in Mesa, Arizona, at the beautiful Longbow Golf Club, which yielded just one under-par team score a year ago.
Neither the competition nor the course get any easier the following week, March 24-26, for Kentucky’s annual stop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the LSU Tiger Classic. Last year’s field featured nine teams in Golfstat’s top 50, and not a single team shot better than 17-over par at LSU’s University Club. Anna Hack, then a freshman, tied for 14th in the 2015 tournament.
The final regular-season stop of the year will take place April 7-9 in Tempe, Arizona, at the PING ASU Invitational at the Karsten Golf Club. Like so many of the Wildcats’ spring stops, the PING ASU Invitational annually hosts some of the country’s best competition. Last season’s field was particularly loaded with nine of the 14 teams in Golfstat’s top 31, including four in the top 10.
The SEC Championship, slated for April 21-23, returns to Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama. As always, the SEC Championship is expected to be one of the top conference tournaments of the season, as 10 of the league’s teams made NCAA regionals last year.
UK will try to start a new streak of NCAA regional appearances after the school’s record-setting five-year run came to an end in 2016. Regionals will take place May 8-10 at one of the four following sites: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Greenville, North Carolina; Lubbock, Texas; and Columbus, Ohio.
The year’s NCAA Championships will be held May 19-24 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois, which hosted the 2009 Solheim Cup. Junior Isabelle Johansson qualified for the NCAA Championships as a freshman in 2015, becoming the first Wildcat to qualify for the NCAA Championships since Heather Kraus in 1998.
“We are heading west quite a bit in the spring and once again I was looking for us to compete against different teams to give our players opportunities to learn and grow,” Borst said. “I am really excited about our entire schedule and believe it's a really balanced one that will give our team the best opportunity to have a successful year.”
After a youth movement was forced into action by injuries last season, Kentucky returns the core of its 2015-16 team, including Johansson and Hack. Johansson led the Wildcats in scoring average last season and top-50 finishes, while Hack finished strong in the spring and then qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open over the summer.