Kentucky Women’s Golf Faces League’s Best at SEC Championship
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Postseason is upon the Kentucky women’s golf team this weekend at the Southeastern Conference Championship. A nine-event, seven-month regular season will give way to the annual conference tournament in Birmingham, Ala., for the league title.
For Kentucky, a season’s worth of work will come down to this weekend if the Wildcats hope to lengthen their postseason. Likely needing a strong tournament to extend its school-record five straight NCAA regional appearances to six, UK will face off against the conference’s best Friday-Sunday at the Greystone Golf & Country Club.
“I can’t believe it’s already time for us to head to the SEC Championship,” head coach Golda Johansson Borst said. “We have an exciting weekend ahead and I feel as though we are going into this championship with positive momentum from the Bryan. We have kept the same lineup as we have had for most of the spring and this is a group that gels really well together. They are competitive yet supportive of each other; constantly pushing each other to get better.
“We will need to play well this weekend to have a chance to qualify for postseason and I think our team is ready for the challenge. To be successful in the SEC you have to be able to play against some of the best teams in the country. That’s why you choose to play in this conference. We have prepared well and now it’s time to get focused, relax and enjoy our time on the course.
The first teams will tee off Friday at 9 a.m. ET. The Wildcats’ first tee time is at 10:10 a.m. ET.
UK has picked the right time of the season to play its best golf. The Wildcats have placed fifth in two of their last four tournaments, including two weeks ago, at the Bryan National Collegiate.
All five Wildcats finished in the top 50 at the Bryan.
Kentucky will be seeking its first SEC Championship in program history at this weekend’s tournament.
Now entering its 36th season, the SEC Championship will be a three-day, 54-hole format with 18 holes each day. All 14 of the league’s teams are represented.
Per usual, as arguably the top league in the country, 10 teams enter this week ranked in GolfStat’s top 50, six in the top 25 and four in the top 10. Alabama, ranked the No. 1 team in the country, is the pre-tournament favorite.
UK finished in 11th place last season, though senior Cylia Damerau, then a junior, finished in a tie for 12th place.
Texas A&M returns as the defending champion, while Georgia leads the league with 11 titles.
The SEC Championship returns to the Greystone Golf & Country Club and will take place on the Legacy Course for a second straight season.
Playing at par 72, 6,195 yards, the Legacy Course is carved naturally from a visually dramatic landscape of placid lakes, meandering streams and the undulation of Alabama's Appalachian foothills.
Designed by world-famous architect Rees Jones, each hole is an inviting yet demanding contest. The Zoysia fairways and Bent Grass greens found at Legacy provide golfers with surfaces that are both challenging and rewarding.
This weekend’s lineup of sophomores Isabelle Johansson and Grace Rose, junior Jordan Chael, freshman Anna Hack, and the aforementioned Damerau have played in a combined 42 events this season. Fittingly, heading into the postseason, they are also Kentucky’s top five golfers in season stroke average.
Damerau slid into the lineup at the fifth spot, but the senior heads to Birmingham this week with confidence from her past SEC Championship appearances. In addition to her 12th-place finish last season, she also finished in 18th in 2014. In both years she was UK’s top finisher.
Johansson posted a team-best 75.7 stroke average in the regular season to go along with a team-high six top-50 finishes in tournament play. All 25 of her rounds this season have been in the 70s.
Rose is coming off a career-best 15th-place finish at the Bryan National Collegiate and leads the team with two top-20s this spring.
Hack has been the Wildcats’ best golfer of late, placing a career-best 14th at the LSU Tiger Golf Classic before a 34th-place finish at the Bryan, which included a career-low 71 in the second round.
Chael tied for 26th two weeks ago at the regular-season finale, her top tournament of the spring season.
What’s at Stake
If the Wildcats are going to continue their NCAA regional streak and extend it to six straight, odds are they’ve got to finish near the top of the leaderboard this weekend. UK entered the week ranked 69th by GolfStat. Based on last season’s at-large selections, UK likely needs to be in the 50s after this week to make the cut for the NCAAs.
Can that happen? Absolutely. With a field as strong as this week’s, while challenging, it provides a final opportunity.
The Wildcats will almost certainly have to play their best golf of the season, but should they piece it together and place ahead of some of the nation’s best teams, they could force the NCAA selection committee to take a long hard look.
An extended postseason or not, with the majority of this year’s team back next year, Borst and her team want to finish the season off on a strong note and build for next year.
How You Can Follow
Fans can follow along with live scoring of the SEC Championship at golfstat.com.
As always, fans can follow the team on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com, for the latest Kentucky women’s golf information.
Legacy Course at Greystone Golf & Country Club