e Wildcats are coming off an eight-place finish at the Blessings Collegiate Invitational
WEST POINT, Miss. – Looking to build on its season-opening performance earlier this month, the Kentucky women’s golf team will return to action this week in its second of three fall tournaments.
Beginning Monday, the Wildcats will participate in The Ally at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Mississippi. The tournament is a three-day, 54-hole stroke-play format with all 14 teams from the Southeastern Conference and Southern Miss represented.
The Wildcats will use the same lineup and order – freshman Laney Frye, sophomores Jensen Castle and Marissa Wenzler, senior Rikke Svejgård Nielsen, and junior Casey Ott – from this month’s earlier showing at the Blessings Collegiate Invitational.
There Kentucky finished in eighth place in the 14-team SEC-only field in Fayetteville, Arkansas, a modest start to a season where the Wildcats have big expectations. UK returns the bulk of the 2019-20 team that won two tournaments, finished runner-up at another, set new records for team scoring average and individual scoring average (Castle), and posted 10 individual top-10 showings and 20 top-20 finishes.
At times, the Blessings Golf Club got the better of the Wildcats, but the group appeared to knock off the offseason rust in the second round with a 2-over-par 290. Frye led the group by tying for sixth place in her first college appearance.
This week, that same group will be back in action. The action tees off Monday at 9:30 a.m. ET with the Wildcats slated for a 9:54 a.m. ET start off No. 10. Live scoring will be available throughout the tournament at GolfStat.com.
“We are looking forward to getting on the road again,” UK head coach Golda Borst said. “We had a fairly quick turnaround from the BCI. The first tournament was tough but a great learning experience. We have worked on a lot of fundamentals this week and now we are just excited that we will get to compete again.”
Mississippi State traditionally holds an annual tournament, but this season’s field will have a slightly different look to it. After careful consideration from health officials, the SEC deemed it safe for league membership to participate in three team events in the fall, but teams are limited to events involving only SEC members or nonconference teams from the tournament host’s geographic region.
The renamed MSU tournament, The Ally, is in honor of former Mississippi State golfer Ally McDonald Ewing, an All-American who set a number of program records and currently plays on the LPGA Tour.
The backdrop for The Ally will be tough to beat. Consistently appearing in both Golfweek's Top 100 and Golf Digest's Top 100 courses, Old Waverly Golf Club is considered one of the gems of the South. Designed by Bob Cupp, Old Waverly hosted the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship in 2019.
Frye will tee off first for the Wildcats after a tremendous debut at the BCI in Fayetteville. She navigated one of the toughest courses in the country, Blessings Golf Club, in 3-over par, including a 1-under-par 71 in her first round and a 70 in the final round to remain in the top 10.
The Lexington native was the top freshman finisher in the field, an impressive but not-so surprising feat after a decorated high school career. Frye was considered the top golfer out of the state in the class of 2020 after winning the 2018 Kentucky High School Athletic Association state championship with a runner-up finish in 2019. She was the anchor behind back-to-back team state championships for Lexington Christian Academy in 2018 and 2019 and was a two-time Kentucky Miss Golf winner.
Castle finished outside the top 20 for just the second time in seven college events at the BCI, but a first-round 80 – easily the highest score of her Kentucky career – was mainly to blame. Castle rebounded from that with an even-par 72 in the second round and a 76 in the finale. In her first season of college golf, Castle put together one of the best years in UK women’s golf history. While setting the school's new single-season stroke average record with a 71.88 mark, she made the All-SEC First Team, the Wildcats’ first All-SEC First Team pick since Cindy Mueller in 1989.
Wenzler, a sophomore, also tied for 31st in the first tournament of the season. She was just as impactful as Castle in her first season at UK, playing in a team-high-tying six events while posting the third-best single-season stroke average in school history. She built on that this summer with two championships and two runner-up showings, plus she earned a spot at the prestigious U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship alongside Castle
Svejgård Nielsen and Ott will round out the Kentucky lineup and are among the most experienced players on the team. Each will be making their 18th appearance in a college event.
Although both players didn’t produce like they would have liked at the BCI, both have the records to prove the season-opening tournament was more of an anomaly than anything else. Svejgård Nielsen owns a team-high-tying seven career top-20 finishes. Ott is just one behind and has more top-10 showings (five) than any other Wildcat. Svejgård Nielsen is the only Wildcat on roster with an individual championship in collegiate competition and Ott led the Wildcats with three top-10 showings a season ago.