UK Women’s Golf in Fifth, Within Striking Distance at UCF Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. – After its best round of the season and another spectacular day by several individuals, the Kentucky women’s golf team is within striking distance of the UCF Challenge championship and is poised for its best finish of the season heading into Tuesday’s conclusion.
With a pair of 1-under days from senior Cylia Damerau and sophomore Isaballe Johansson and another consistent round from sophomore Grace Rose, UK sits in fifth place through two rounds at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The Wildcats fired a 4-over 292 Monday – which ties their season’s best – and are at 19-over par overall, a still-reachable 11 shots back of first-place Missouri.
With windy conditions again in the forecast for Tuesday and her team playing as well as it has all season, head coach Golda Johansson Borst expressed confidence in her team’s ability to close out its best tournament of the season so far in the final round.
“It's been fun watching the girls play with a calm confidence over the last two days,” Borst said. “They continued to play within themselves despite having some rough holes to start the round and that showed in their scores.
“We spoke about finishing strong yesterday, and they really capitalized on that today and were 2-under as a team in the last three holes. I'm proud of their demeanor, decision making and purpose. Tomorrow we will face similar conditions as we did Monday and I think that works to our advantage. We will just continue to have fun on the course and keep battling for each shot.”
Rose started the day two shots back of the individual leaders and in a tie for eighth place, but it was Damerau and Johansson who led the charge Monday. Both shot 1-under par in tough conditions, the first time this season that multiple players have fired under-par rounds in the same round.
Damerau, who entered 2015-16 with Kentucky’s top returning stroke average from a season ago, returned to her old ways with her first under-par round of the season. After two bogeys in the first five holes, Damerau was near perfect the rest of the day. The Switzerland native did not record a bogey in the final 13 holes, adding three birdies to get below par in the second round.
Johansson took a different approach, starting off fast with what looked to be the round of the day before a few bogeys slowed her down at the end. The sophomore birdied the second hole, carded just the fifth eagle of the entire tournament on the par-5 fifth hole, and then birdied No. 11 to get as low as 4-under for the day. Johansson, who led Kentucky in stroke average in the fall, looked to be headed for a career-low round before bogeying three of the final six holes. Nonetheless, she notched her first under-par round of the season.
Rose is still in contention for the individual title with the third-most birdies (seven of them) in the field. Just as it looked like she was starting to fade, the sophomore from Nicholasville, Ky., used three of them on the back nine Monday. She finished at 2-over par for the round and 3-over overall, in a tie for 13th place and just six shots behind co-leaders Michelle Butler (Missouri) and F. Gustafsson Spang (East Carolina) at 3-under.
Rose is hardly alone as far as the Wildcats are concerned. Damerau’s 1-under day has her in a tie with Rose in 13th at 3-over par, and Johansson is just one shot back of those two at 4-over par and in a tie for 18th place.
Freshman Anna Hack is seeking the first top-50 finish of her career after a second-day 76. At 9-over par after a 4-over Monday, which included three birdies, she’s in a tie for 47th.
Junior Jordan Chael, one of Kentucky’s most consistent players in the fall, faded Monday with an 11-over-par day. She’s at 16-over overall and in a tie for 86th.
Freshman Claire Carlin, playing in her first career tournament after joining the Wildcats in the spring, improved dramatically Monday with a 77. She’s in a tied for 93rd at 21-over.
Tuesday’s exciting 18-hole conclusion will begin at 8:45 a.m. with a shotgun start.
This week’s tournament is being held at the Eagle Creek Golf Club. 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