#KWG Fires School-Record Round at Ron Moore Intercollegiate
HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. – Everywhere you looked, improvements were evident in the Kentucky women’s golf team’s start to the 2016-17 season.
Two individual championships. More individual par-or-better rounds than the Wildcats had all of last season. Consistent sub-300 rounds, which were hard to come by a year ago. Solid veteran consistency. An injection of talented youth.
And yet, even with all the improvement, head coach Golda Johansson Borst saw room for improvement. She wanted more. She thought there was more her team could give, even expressing disappointment as recently as Saturday’s round that had the Wildcats in contention at the Ron Moore Women’s Intercollegiate.
Apparently Coach knows best.
The Wildcats not only took their improved play to a new level Sunday; they shattered records in the process.
With a balanced effort from the top of the lineup to the bottom, Kentucky carded an 11-under 277 in the final round of the Ron Moore Women’s Intercollegiate Sunday, crushing the previous 18-hole school record of 282 at the Alamo Invitational (with records dating back to 1987), which was set during the 2012-13 season.
Three Wildcats recorded under-par rounds. Two of them – senior Jordan Chael and junior Isabelle Johansson – carded career lows. And Chael, with a 7-under 65, tied the second-best round in school history, behind only Liz Breed’s 64 at the Schooner Fall Classic in October 2013.
All told, it resulted in a third-place finish for the Wildcats in an 18-team field with a 54-hole score of 871 (7-over par). The 871 is UK’s best 54-hole score since an 866 at the UCF Challenge in February 2014.
“To be honest, I think we were really due for a good round,” head coach Golda Johansson Borst said. “I’ve been feeling like that for the last few tournament rounds. I didn’t know when it was going to happen but I knew the girls were capable of this. We have been working hard and making a lot of improvements, but I felt like we hadn’t quite put it all together yet and were close to doing it.
“It was great to see Jordan and Bella take charge today. They really stepped up their games for the themselves and the team. I’m proud of all the girls. It was a total team effort by everyone this weekend.”
On a day of school records, career lows and consistently solid play, Chael stood out. Entering Sunday her previous career low was 69. She beat that by four strokes in the final round at the Highlands Ranch Country Club in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Chael was as close to perfect as it gets. The Overland Park, Kansas, native recorded seven birdies on the day without a single bogey. She opened the day with back-to-back birdies and closed it with consecutive birdies to get within one stroke of the school record, a 64 by Breed at the Schooner Fall Classic in October 2013.
Her 65 was easily the best round of the weekend in the 102-player field.
Combined with her back-to-back 75s to open the tournament, Chael finished at 1-under par and in a tie for seventh place. It was her best finish in her two seasons at Kentucky. The 215 was a career 54-hole low and tied for the lowest tournament score of the season by any Wildcat.
“I actually got after Jordan a little bit after yesterday’s round because I thought she could play better on this course with the way she’d been striking the ball,” Borst said. “We knew she could do better, and I’m so proud of the way she responded today. She took on the challenge and got in the zone. She made birdies from the get-go today and played to how we know she’s capable of.”
Johansson was no slouch on Sunday either. All she did was record a career-low 67, good enough for the sixth-best score in program history (with records dating back to 1987).
The junior from Sala, Sweden, opened with three pars before she went on a birdie barrage. Johansson recorded birdies on 10, 12, 16 and 18 with one bogey in between to get to 3-under. She would end up with two more birdies and six on the day to beat her previous career low of 68, which was set in the final round of this year’s Minnesota Invitational when she stormed from behind to capture the individual title in Minneapolis.
Johansson ultimately finished at 1-over par and in a tie for 12th.
“Bella just came out today and had a different look in her eye,” Borst said. “She was ready to go low. She had been frustrated with her first two days of play, and as we know, Bella never gives up. We had a feeling that she had this in her if the putts would drop, and they sure dropped today.”
Freshman Josephine Chang’s streak of par-or-better rounds finally came to an end Sunday after four straight rounds of 72 or better. She shot a 76 on Sunday to drop her from the leaderboard, but she still finished at 4-over par and in a tie for 27th.
Even with the 76, Chang is still averaging a 72.6 in her five rounds of collegiate stroke play.
Redshirt junior Ale Walker was one of three Wildcats in red figures Sunday, carding a 1-under 71 in the final round to cap yet another solid tournament. The Paintsville, Kentucky, native recorded four birdies in the finale and finished in a tie for 34th place at 5-over par.
Freshman Sarah Shipley bounced back from adversity on Friday and Saturday with a 3-over 74. She tied for 94th place.
All told, four Wildcats ended the weekend in the top 34.
UK’s third-place finish is its best since a third-place tournament at the LSU Tiger Classic in March 2014. The Wildcats have placed sixth or better in all three tournaments in 2016-17, saving their latest finish for the biggest field they’ve played in this season.
Pepperdine won the tournament at 10-under par. Denver’s Sophie Newlove won the individual title at 6-under.
The Wildcats will try to keep the momentum rolling and close out an extremely strong fall season in two weeks at the Cardinal Club in Simpsonville, Kentucky. That tournament, hosted by Louisville, will begin Oct. 23.
For the latest on the Kentucky women’s golf team, follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.