The Kentucky women’s golf team followed a breakthrough season in 2019-20 on the course with another banner year in the classroom.
The latest academic honors include four Wildcats making the 2019-20 Women’s Golf Coaches Associational All-American Scholar Team. Junior Rikke Svejgård Nielsen, sophomore Casey Ott, and freshmen Jensen Castle and Marissa Wenzler were among the 1,401 women’s collegiate golfers across NCAA Divisions I, II and III recognized with the prestigious honor.
Among the requirements to be nominated a WGCA All-American Scholars, a student-athlete must have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.50 for the entirety of her college career, be of high moral character, and played in 50% of the college’s regularly scheduled competitive rounds during the season nominated.
Over the last two seasons, UK has placed seven different Wildcats on the WGCA All-American Scholar Team. Svejgård Nielsen and Ott have earned honors in consecutive seasons, making it nine total selections for Kentucky over the last two seasons. Prior to 2018-19, the program record for WGCA All-American Scholars in a season was three.
Successfully navigating the challenges brought on by the COVID-10 pandemic and the move to exclusively online classes, the team posted a 3.820 grade-point average in the spring, among the highest marks in school history. In the fall, the Wildcats recorded a 3.593 GPA.
The Southeastern Conference Spring Academic Honor Roll has not been released yet.
Svejgård Nielsen has made the school’s dean’s list in all four semesters on campus as she pursues a degree in agricultural and medical biotechnology. On the course, she’s played a key part in the Wildcats’ rise the last two seasons, appearing in 16 events with three top-10 finishes and seven top-20 showings. This past season alone, Svejgård Nielsen played in a season-high-tying six events, topped her first-year stroke average with a 73.6 mark – among the best marks single-season school history – and notched a career-best two top-10 finishes. She was second on the team with eight rounds of par or better, and the team used her score in 14 of 17 rounds. She nearly won the VejleMatchen in Austria over the weekend, losing in a three-player playoff.
Ott is majoring in psychology and has also made the dean’s list in her four semesters at Kentucky. She’s played in 16 events over two seasons and has been a high-impact performer with six top-20 showings and five top-10 finishes. In 2019-20, she led the team with a career-high-tying three top-10 finishes to go along with a career-high four top-20 showings. Ott posted a 73.8 stroke average, ranked among the best single-season marks in school history, and was UK’s most improved player after shaving off 2.2 strokes on her previous season’s average. She notched both 18-hole and 54-hole career lows this past season and finished second two weeks ago at the Arkansas State Golf Association’s Women’s Stroke Play Championship.
While Castle was setting new records in competition, she was excelling in the classroom. The business freshman made the dean’s list in the spring after one of the best single seasons in Kentucky women’s golf history. The most decorated recruit the program as ever signed lived up to high expectations by setting the school’s new single-season stroke average record (71.88 per 18 holes), by becoming UK’s first All-SEC First Team pick since Cindy Mueller in 1989 – and the first to do so as a freshman – and by placing in the top 20 in five of six team events, the best mark on the team. She also added two top-10 showings with 11 of 17 rounds at par or better, a team high and the third-best mark in single-season school history despite the shortened season. The team used her scored in 15 of 17 rounds.
Wenzler made a similar impact both academically and athletically as a freshman. She made the dean’s list in both semesters as she began pursuit of a degree in finance. She appeared in a team-high-tying six events during the shortened season, posted a 73.18 stroke average, the second-best mark on the team and the third-best single-season mark in school history, and was among the team leaders with three top-20 finishes and a top-10 showing. Wenzler tied for third on the team with six rounds of par or better and the team used her scored in 15 of 17 rounds. She’s enjoyed a stellar summer with a title at the 105th Metropolitan Women’s Amateur Championship and a runner-up showing at last week’s Golfweek Myrtle Beach Collegiate.
Kentucky’s 2020-21 roster is shaping up to be the strongest group of players in program history. Nine of 10 players from the record-setting 2019-20 season are returning after winning two team championships, setting a new team scoring record and posting 10 top-10 individual finishes.
The group will join freshman Laney Frye, who won the Pete & Alice Dye Junior Invitational last month, and Augusta transfer María Villanueva Aperribay, who posted a 73.6 stroke average in her first season in college.