Wisconsin Edges UK Women’s Golf at Match Play Challenge
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Looking to build on its strong performance in the stroke-play portion of the East & West Match Play Challenge, the Kentucky women’s golf narrowly fell to Wisconsin on Monday in the semifinals of match play.
No. 3 seed Wisconsin edged the Wildcats, seeded No. 2, in the head-to-head match-play format 3-2, winning the decisive holes in dramatic fashion. With UK up 2-1, Wisconsin secured the decisive two points on the final holes of the day. The last nail in the coffin was a devastating 20-foot putt from Wisconsin’s Becky Klongland to beat junior Isabelle Johansson on their 20th hole of the head-to-head match.
Kentucky will play Ohio State on Tuesday in the third-place match at Radrick Farms Golf Course (par 72, 6,292 yards) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Buckeyes, who were the top seed after stroke play on Sunday, lost to Oregon 3-2.
Freshman Sarah Shipley, who is playing as an individual and earned the top seed in the individual bracket, advanced to the championship match with a 4-and-2 victory over Wisconsin’s Ali Nageotte. She will face Michigan’s Alisa Snyder, the No. 3 seed, on Tuesday.
“We had a disappointing loss today,” head coach Golda Johansson Borst said. “Both teams played hard, but in the end, Wisconsin made a 20-foot putt on the second sudden death hole to win the match for them.
“At the end of the day, we just didn't make enough birdies and they made some towards the end to close the match. A loss always stings, but we will learn from this and play hard against Ohio State tomorrow.”
Senior Jordan Chael and freshman Josephine Chang led the way for Kentucky with commanding victories in their matches.
Chael, who tied for eighth during the stroke-play portion of the event on Sunday, defeated Tess Hackworthy 4 and 2. Chael wasted no time in dispatching Hackworthy, pulling ahead by four holes when she birdied the par-4 eighth hole. Hackworthy never got any closer than two holes.
Chang’s match wasn’t quite as lopsided early, but the freshman, who is playing in her first college tournament, turned things on midway through the round to put away Bunyaporn Zeng 5 and 4. Leading by just one hole through eight, Chang won four of the next six holes to close out the match.
Chang’s victory came after an impressive Sunday in which she shot 1-under par in her first 18 holes of college golf and then followed with an even-par 72 in the afternoon for a fourth-place finish in stroke play.
After Wisconsin’s Brooke Ferrell defeated redshirt junior Ale Walker 5 and 4, it came down to close matches with UK’s Anna Hack and Isabelle Johansson.
Hack fought back against Gabby Curtis after falling behind by two holes on the front nine and evened the match on the 17th hole with a birdie. A bogey on the 18th from Hack gave Curtis the win, 1 up.
The deciding match took extra holes.
Johansson and Wisconsin’s Klongland traded punches all morning, but neither golfer ever pulled in front by more than a hole. Johansson tied it up on the 16th hole when Klongland bogeyed, and they would sit at all square through 18 holes.
On the 20th hole of the day, Klongland defeated Johansson and ultimately Kentucky when she drained a downhill, right-to-left putt from 20 feet for a 3.
In the individual bracket, Shipley cruised for much of the day. All square with Nageotte through three holes, Shipley won five of her next seven holes and never looked back. Her competition Tuesday, Snyder, enjoyed a similar rout.
UK will tee off vs. Ohio State at 9:03 a.m. Shipley will face Snyder beginning at 8:54 a.m. ET. Live scoring for team results will continue to be available at golfstat.com, while Shipley’s match can be tracked at mgoblue.com.
Kentucky made it into the championship bracket of match play with a sensational 36 holes Sunday. The Wildcats placed second in the stroke-play portion of the tournament and were one of four teams to advance to the match-play semifinals of the three-day tournament.
Included in Sunday’s excellent play was a 2-under-par 286, which tied for the sixth-best 18-hole score in school history, with records dating back to 1987. Four Wildcats (Walker, Chang, Shipley and Chael) finished in the top 10, while Walker tied her career low with a 2-under 70 in the second round.
The East & West Match Play Challenge is in its third season. Michigan and Wisconsin teamed up to host the event when the NCAA finals format altered in 2015 from straight stroke play to a match-play format. The idea was to give teams the experiences for postseason play.
Michigan and Wisconsin alternate in hosting the event. Radrick Farms Golf Course, Michigan’s home course, hosted the inaugural event in 2014.