Team USA is right back in the thick of things at the Curtis Cup with Kentucky women’s golfer Jensen Castle making a big contribution in the Friday comeback.

Castle, the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, earned 1.5 points in her two matches on Friday to fuel an American comeback and tie the match with Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) 6-6 heading into the final day of the biennial international women’s amateur golf competition.

Eight points will be at stake – all in singles matches – Saturday to determine who leaves Conwy Golf Club in North Wales with the Curtis Cup. This week’s battle has been a much closer affair after the U.S. won 17-3.

After dropping her Thursday match in her Curtis Cup debut 2 and 1 in a four-ball match with Duke’s Gina Kim, Castle came back strong on day two.

In her morning match with Arkansas’ Brooke Matthews, Castle made some key birdies midway through the round in a competitive match vs. Caley McGinty and Emily Toy to halve the match.

Team USA went to a formidable duo for Friday afternoon’s match when they paired up Castle with Wake Forest’s Rachel Kuehn. The duo has won back-to-back Carolinas Women’s Four-Ball Championship titles with record-setting scores.

The USA pairing did not disappoint.

Castle birdied the par-4 second hole with a long putt to go 1 up early and the two Americans never looked back. The two each birdied the par-5 fourth hole to take a two-hole lead and they increased it to a 3-up lead by the eighth hole.

Lauren Walsh and Louise Duncan cut it to a 1-up lead after 11 holes, but Castle and Kuehn turned it on again and closed out the match with a 3-and-2 victory on No. 16.

Through three matches, Castle is 1-1-1 as the first Kentucky women’s golfer to ever play in the Curtis Cup.

Single play Saturday will get started at 4:45 a.m. ET on the Golf Channel. Castle will take on Hannah Darling, who is ranked No. 25 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and won the Royal & Ancient Girls’ Amateur Championship earlier this month.

Castle made the 41st USA Curtis Cup Team by winning the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur earlier this month. In defeating some of the nation’s best players – including Kennedy Pedigo, the No. 2 overall seed, in the opening of match play; Rachel Heck, the 2021 NCAA individual champion, in the semifinals; and Vivian Hou, the 2020 Women’s Golf Coaches Association Freshman of the Year, in the championship match – she earned automatic exemption into the Curtis Cup, among a number of major national tournaments.

In winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Castle not only became the first No. 63 seed to win the Robert Cox Trophy and the third No. 63 seed in United States Golf Association history to win a title since seeding began in the 1980s (according to the USGA), she became the first player in UK women’s golf history to earn an invite to the Curtis Cup.

Notable past USA Curtis Cup Team members include U.S. Women’s Open champions JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Paula Creamer, Juli Inkster, Cristie Kerr, Patty Sheehan, Hollis Stacy and Michelle Wie, as well as past and present LPGA stars such as Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Beth Daniel, Jessica Korda, Nancy Lopez and Dottie Pepper.

This year’s U.S. team includes Rose Zhang (Stanford), Allison Corpuz (Southern California), Emilia Miglaccio (Wake Forest), Heck, Kim, Kuehn and Matthews. Sarah Ingram, a two-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and three-time Curtis Cup Team member, is the captain.

Castle won the U.S. Women’s Amateur by navigating through a field of some of the 156 top amateurs in the country. She captured one of the final two spots from stroke play in a 12-for-2 playoff to make match play and then defeated some of the nation’s elite amateur golfers in the head-to-head format.

In a week of unforgettable play, Castle’s resiliency stood out the most. On Saturday, in the semifinals, Castle trailed Heck, the 2021 consensus national collegiate player of the year, by two holes with three to play. She rallied to force extra holes and won it on the 19th hole with a 20-foot make for birdie.

In Sunday’s 36-hole championship match, Castle trailed Hou by two holes after the morning’s 18-hole round but came back in the afternoon with a vengeance. She won four of the first eight holes after the restart to take a 2-up lead. She stopped a potential Hou comeback attempt with a birdie on the 35th hole of the day to win 2 and 1.

The South Carolina native did all of that while coming back from a stress fracture in one of her ribs. After helping Kentucky to the NCAA Championship Finals in May – the program’s first appearance since 1992 – playing in the U.S. Women’s Open in June, and then winning a second straight Carolinas Four-Ball Championship with Kuehn at the beginning of July, Castle had to withdraw from several summer tournaments due to the injury. She picked up a club for the first time in nearly a month just before the U.S. Women’s Amateur run.

Castle, now a junior, arrived at Kentucky as the most decorated signee in program history. She has been as good as advertised with 17 appearances in two seasons, seven top-20 finishes and a 73.6 stroke average. She led the 2019-20 team to two championships while setting the program’s single-season scoring record with 71.9 strokes per round as a freshman.

Kentucky’s 2021-22 schedule was released last month. Returning all five players – including Castle – who qualified and played in the NCAA Championship Finals, the Wildcats will play in nine regular-season events before the Southeastern Conference Championship and postseason play. After navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, UK will return to a traditional schedule with four tournaments in the fall, four in the spring, a head-to-head matchup with rival Louisville and then the postseason.

The UK season begins Sept. 13-14 at the Wolverine Invitational in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

For the latest on the Kentucky women’s golf team, follow the team on TwitterFacebook and Instagram, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.

– GO CATS –
For more information contact:
Eric Lindsey

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