UK wins match-play event over Kent State

As the postseason nears for the UK women’s golf team, the Cats got the chance to practice the match-play style format on Thursday when they defeated No. 16 Kent State 3-2 in a match-play competition.

Both the SEC and NCAA Championships use match play to determine team championships, so it was important for the Cats to get the experience in as the SEC Championships is only three weeks away. 

Unlike the traditional golf format people see at PGA events, match-play is a hole-by-hole competition that is better suited for team competitions. UK had five golfers go against five golfers from Kent State, and each golfer that won a match for their team gave their team a point. 

The way a golfer wins a match is by winning more holes than their opponent. If a golfer birdies a hole while her opponent gets a par, the golfer with the birdie wins the hole. At the end of the match, whichever golfer wins the most holes gives her team a point. In Thursday’s case, it took three points for a team to win the match.

Thursday’s competition was UK’s first match-play competition since Fall 2016 and the game also came two weeks after UK’s top performance of the season, which was a third place finish at the Clover Cup in Mesa, Arizona. 

Sophomore Sarah Shipley got the Cats on the board first with a 3 and 2 victory over Kent State’s Michaela Finn. Shipley performed well in UK’s last match-play competition in 2016, winning the individual title while her team wasn’t able to come up with the win.

After Shipley’s win, the Cats would drop the next two matches, putting them on the brink of losing. Senior Isabelle Johansson would tie the match by winning her match against Chloe Salort on the final hole.

Johansson was coming off a rough performance at the Clover Cup, finishing 32nd in the tournament. Johansson has been one of UK’s top golfers this season, as she has a team-high tying three top-20 finishes this year, and leads the team with two top-10 finishes.

The final match to determine the whole competition came down to UK’s Leonie Bettel and Kent State’s Pimnipa Panthong, the 35th ranked player in the country. Eighteen holes were not enough to decide the match between the two, and they went into extra holes to determine the winner.

After tying the first playoff hole, Bettel ended up sealing the match with a win on the second playoff hole.

The Cats will now get a week to prepare for their next tournament, which will be Bryan National Collegiate competition in Browns Summit, North Carolina. After that, the Cats begin postseason play with the SEC Championships in Birmingham, Alabama.