Women’s Golf snags tenth at Florida Invitational

Braden Ramsey

Fresh off a season-best finish at the UCF Challenge to open February, Kentucky’s women’s golf team returned to the Sunshine state to cap off the month in Gainesville at the Florida Invitational.

The Cats competed against 13 other schools, including seven fellow SEC members, in the Sunday-Tuesday event, where they finished in tenth place with a 42-over-par (+42). Ole Miss and Florida tied for first by totaling a plus-16, while the Gators’ Annabell Fuller claimed the individual title with a five-under (-5).

The initial day of competition was a rough one for Kentucky, who slotted at 12th out of the 14 teams after the first round. The 23-over-par (+23) score would be their highest of the tournament, but knocked them out of top-spot contention almost immediately.

“Today was not our day,” Wildcat head coach Golda Borst said Sunday afternoon. “We were in a good frame of mind when we teed off, but the course got the best of us.”

Freshman Laney Frye recorded the best score of round one for Kentucky with a 72 (+2), which had her tied for 12th individually. Beginning on the back nine, a bogey on hole 14 (par-four) represented her only hole above par through her first ten. Her lone birdie of the day came on the par-five fifth.

Monday proved to be more successful. Frye remained atop the Kentucky leaderboard, and tied for 12th individually, with an even-par 70 – her fifth round of par or better on the year. Her supporting cast fared much better too; Jensen Castle and Marissa Wenzler each tallied plus-one’s, and no Cat shot worse than five-over par. They jumped seven slots in terms of team ranking for the round (12th to fifth) and moved into 11th overall.

“We did a much better job of eliminating the bigger numbers today… that helped us quite a bit,” Borst said at the conclusion of the round. “We still have work to do to get where we want to go, but we put ourselves in better positions on and around the greens, and that was good to see.”

Castle and Maria Villanueva Apperibay were the top Cats during Tuesday’s final eighteen holes, carding two-over 72’s. Frye’s plus-five 75 was her worst showing of the competition, but she managed to hang tough and secure a tie for 15th, the second top-15 finish of her young career.

After touting Frye as someone who can be “comfortable going further under par” in “just a matter of time” on Monday, Borst remained bullish on the freshman despite the regression from rounds one and two. She sees a ton of untapped potential in her, and thinks her position near the top of leaderboards can become commonplace as she gets more experience under her belt.

“Laney has a very bright future… she has to learn how to manage her emotions and her thoughts when things are going well, and then when there is a small hiccup… [but] that’s something you learn over time,” she said Tuesday. “I’m excited… I think there is a lot of good stuff ahead.”

Borst also thinks the roster she has is a quality one, but says the only way they’ll be able to demonstrate it is if they believe in themselves.

“We have a really good team… we just have to believe that we are a good team,” she said. “Each individual player has to believe that they are going to make the putt, that they are going to execute the shot… that is our biggest weakness right now.”

“The more we play, the more confidence we will get… we have a lot of good golf ahead of us.”

This marked Kentucky’s first appearance in the nearly 50-year-old competition since 2012. The Invitational is played at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

The Cats will remain away from Lexington as they head to South Carolina for the Gamecock Intercollegiate, taking place March 1-3 in Columbia. Staying out of town gives them an opportunity to do something the weather in the Bluegrass has prevented: practice.

“We’re going to play a lot and do a ton of short game,” Borst said excitedly. “This group jells really good together… we have a lot of fun. So we’re going to put in a lot of hard work and try to get some good energy for the next tournament.”