Rose, UK Women’s Golf in Contention at UCF Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. – With sophomore Grace Rose back in the lineup, the Kentucky women’s golf team finds itself just eight shots out of first place after the first day of competition at the UCF Challenge in Orlando, Fla.
UK shot a combined score of 303 (15-over par), its third best score of the year, and is in seventh place in the 18-team field. Houston leads the crowded leaderboard at 7-over par overall, with Texas (11-over par) and Missouri (13-over par) not far behind.
After missing last week’s dual match vs. Louisville in the Battle of the Bluegrass, Rose returned Sunday to lead Kentucky with yet another strong outing. The sophomore from Nicholasville, Ky., fired an opening-round 73 and is in a tie for eighth place at 1-over par. Missouri’s Michelle Butler and Tulane’s Emily Penttila lead the field at 1-under par.
"We had a solid start to our spring in some windy conditions today,” head coach Golda Johansson Borst said. “We spoke a great deal about adjusting to the conditions and staying mentally tough throughout the round yesterday and the girls really accomplished that. They stayed in their rounds and played within themselves; I think that was a big key to our round.
“We have two more days with the same type of weather so we just need to keep our heads down, play with a good attitude and continue to battle for each shot.”
Rose has continued her upward trajectory in year two with the Wildcats. After posting a top-50 finish to start the 2015-16 season at the Minnesota Invitational, Rose fired a career-low 67 in the final round of the fall season at the Landfall Invitational for a career-best 37th-place finish. The 67 was also the low 18-hole round of the year for the Wildcats.
A three-month layoff appears to have done little to slow her momentum, as Rose recorded a tournament-best four birdies on Sunday, all four coming during a seven-hole stretch in which Rose stormed into a tie for first place at one point.
Rose got off to a rough start with a double bogey on No. 2, but she battled back with birdies on hole Nos. 8 and 9 to get back to even par. She traded a bogey and a birdie on 11 and 12 before another birdie on 14 to go as low as 1-under. Two bogeys in the last three holes got Rose to her Sunday final at 73.
Several of Rose’s teammates are right behind her and still in the individual hunt, including senior Cylia Damerau. The Switzerland native fired a 4-over par 76 on Sunday and finds herself in a tie for 22nd place after recording a birdie on No. 18.
Junior Jordan Chael, sophomore Isabelle Johansson and freshman Anna Hack are tied in a logjam for 30th place at 5-over par, though all took different paths to get there.
Johansson, who led UK in stroke average in the fall, showed tremendous resiliency in bouncing back from a triple bogey on her third hole of the day. Twice she got back to 2-over par, but a bogey on No. 15 and a triple bogey on No. 16 puts her six shots back of the two individual leaders.
Chael went out at 3-over par with four bogeys and a birdie and finished the back nine with seven pars and two bogeys. Hack, a Paducah, Ky., native, birdied No. 17 to get to 5-over.
Freshman Claire Carlin, making her tournament debut after joining the Wildcats for the spring semester, is in a tie for 95th place at 16-over par.
The UCF Challenge will resume Monday at 8:30 a.m. with another 18 holes at the beautiful Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando. Playing at 6,349 yards and par 72, Eagle Creek is a beautiful but yet elite golf course featuring 90 white sand bunkers. It is the first course in Florida to use technologically advanced Mini-Verde grass.
UK is in its third straight season at the UCF Challenge after finishing in 11th place in 2015. Eight of the teams in the 18-team field entered the week in Golfstat’s top 50.
Fans can continue to follow along with live scoring of the UCF Challenge 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.
Eagle Creek Golf Club