Kentucky Women’s Golf Begins Season at Minnesota Invitational
MINNEAPOLIS – Healthy, battle-tested and equipped with an injection of talented youth, the Kentucky women’s golf team begins its 2016-17 season Monday at the Minnesota Invitational poised to restart another historic postseason streak.
The Wildcats travel north to the historic Minikahda Club in Minneapolis for 54 holes in two days. The tournament will be the first of four fall tournaments and the beginning of what the Wildcats hope will be their sixth postseason appearance in the Golda Johansson Borst era.
UK’s school-record streak of five straight NCAA regional appearances came to an end last season after injuries withered the Wildcats’ depth. With key players unexpectedly missing for much of the season, Kentucky’s inexperienced youth was forced into action.
The Wildcats experienced some growing pains along the way, but there was growth nonetheless. Now experienced, healthy and much deeper than last season, the Wildcats will compete in the 11-team Minnesota Invitational on Monday and Tuesday.
“It feels good to be back on the road again with our Cats,” Borst said. “This is a good opening tournament for us against some very solid teams and it will give us an indication of where we are and what we need to work on.”
Play begins Monday at 8:45 a.m. ET with the first of three 18-hole rounds, two of which will be played Monday. The concluding 18 holes will be Tuesday.
Six of the 11-team field appeared in last season’s NCAA regional field, including 2015 Minnesota Invitational champion Purdue.
Live scoring is available throughout the tournament at golfstat.com.
UK is appearing in the Minnesota Invitational for the second straight season. Senior Jordan Chael placed in a team-best 10th last year. Hoping to build off last season’s performance in Minneapolis, she’s back in the lineup this week.
Joining her is a mix of experience, past success, a freshman and a veteran eager to return to the course.
Ale Walker, who is took a medical redshirt last season because of injury, will make her much-anticipated return after nearly a year a half since her last collegiate tournament. Monday will mark her first tournament since appearing in the LSU Tiger Golf Classic in late March 2015. She placed in the top 50 in four of her seven tournament appearances in 2014-15, including a top-20 finish.
The Wildcats’ two most consistent golfers from a season ago are in the lineup to begin 2016-17.
Junior Isabelle Johansson will guide the Cats into Minneapolis after leading the Wildcats in stroke average and top-50 finishes (six). In 2015, she became the first Wildcat to qualify for the NCAA Championships since Heather Kraus in 1998.
Redshirt sophomore Anna Hack is coming off an appearance in the U.S. Women’s Open over the summer. She qualified by beating professional Ember Shculdt on the third playoff hole to clinch one of two spots from the St. Louis sectional qualifier. Hack was one of 25 amateurs in the 156-player U.S. Women’s Open field.
Hack’s breakthrough qualification was preceded by a strong finish to her freshman season in which she posted two top-25 finishes in two of her last three tournaments. She was arguably UK’s most consistent golfer late in the season with 15 of her final 17 rounds in the 70s, including back-to-back rounds of 73 at the Southeastern Conference Championship to finish in a tie for 23rd.
Freshman Sarah Shipley would like nothing more than to duplicate Hack’s success in her first season, starting with her first collegiate tournament at the Minnesota Invitational. She certainly has the credentials to do it.
Shipley was a five-time winner at the junior level and was named the 2015 Golf Association of Michigan Girls’ Player of the Year. She also finished first on the Golf Week Junior Tour in Michigan.
“I feel good about our lineup,” Borst said. “We have a young group with us who have all worked hard over the summer. Now they just need to relax, trust themselves and enjoy the moment. This is just the beginning of the season; every experience is one that we can learn from and I'm excited about what's ahead for this team.”
Located southwest of Minneapolis, just west of Lake Calhoun, the beautiful and historic Minikahda Club will play at 6,119 yards, par 72. The Minikahda Club has a long and storied past, playing host to the 1916 US Open, the 1927 USA Amateur, the 1957 Walker Cup, the 1988 US Women’s Amateur and the 1998 Curtis Cup.
For the latest on the Kentucky women’s golf team, follow the team on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.