UK golfer Jensen Castle makes second straight Curtis Cup team

Kentucky women’s golfer earns one of the first two spots as an automatic qualifier

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Kentucky women’s golfer Jensen Castle will play in the Curtis Cup for a second straight season, the United States Golf Association announced on Tuesday.

Castle has an automatic spot on the team after winning the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur. That earned her selection to the 41st Curtis Cup match this past August after it was postponed from June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the 2022 match, the 42nd edition of the event, on schedule for June before next year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur, Castle is back on the team alongside Rose Zhang, a freshman at Stanford and the 2021 Mark H. McCormack Medal recipient.

“As part of the USGA’s selection process for its international competitions, the reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and Mark H. McCormack Medal winner receive automatic selections to the Curtis Cup Team,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of championships for the USGA. “We felt it was important to keep those selections intact, despite the unprecedented nature of the current Match schedule. Both Jensen and Rose are fantastic competitors and people, and we are proud to once again have them represent the USGA and the United States.”

Both Castle and Zhang were members of the 2021 team that defeated Great Britain and Ireland 12.5-7.5 in August at Conwy Golf Club in Wales. Castle posted a 1-1-2 record, including a key half point in the final round of singles, for Team USA’s first victory overseas since 2008.

The 2022 Curtis Cup will take place June 10-12 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

Sarah Ingram, a three-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion (1991, 1993 and 1994) and a member of three USA Curtis Cup Teams (1992, 1994 and 1996), will again serve as captain after leading the USA to victory earlier this past year.

“Having Rose and Jensen on the Curtis Cup Team this past summer was an absolute joy,” Ingram said. “Their experience, familiarity and leadership will be invaluable at Merion. I have really enjoyed getting to know these two fabulous young ladies and look forward to continuing our Curtis Cup journey together as we look to secure back-to-back victories.”

The Curtis Cup is a biennial international women’s amateur golf competition between eight-player teams from the U.S. and Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I). It consists of six foursomes (alternate-shot) matches, six four-ball matches and eight singles matches over three days of competition. The USGA’s International Team Selection Working Group selects the USA Team, while The Royal & Ancient selects the GB&I Team.

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.

Castle became the first player in UK women’s golf history to make the team this past August. She represented herself well in Wales, serving a key member of in Team USA’s comeback.

After trailing 4.5-1.5 as a team, Castle earned 1.5 points on the second day of competition to even the match heading into the final round. In singles, Castle rallied from 3 down with four holes to play to halve her match and steal an important half point.

Castle’s comeback was reminiscent of her incredible U.S. Women’s Amateur run, which earned her a spot on the Curtis Tup Team in the first place. There she rallied from 2 down with three holes to play to stun Rachel Heck, the 2021 NCAA individual champion, on the 19th hole in the semifinals, and then rallied from a 2-down deficit vs. Yu-Chiang (Vivian) Hou, the 2020 Women’s Golf Coaches Association Freshman of the Year, to win the 36-hole championship match 2 and 1.

In winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Castle became the first No. 63 seed to win the Robert Cox Trophy and the third No. 63 seed in USGA history to win a title since seeding began in the 1980s, according to the USGA.

Castle did all that at the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the Curtis Cup while coming back from a rib injury. She didn’t swing a club until for weeks until days before the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Now healthy, Castle has continued the momentum in her junior season at Kentucky. In four fall events, Castle led the Wildcats in scoring average with 71.75 strokes per round, fractions better than her program’s record-setting pace in 2019-20 when she was just a freshman.

Castle posted two top-20 finishes in four events in the fall, including a third-place finish at the Mason Rudolph Championship thanks to a career-best 54-hole score of 208, 8-under par.

It has been a monster 2021 for Castle. Earlier this summer, Castle teamed up with Wake Forest’s Rachel Kuehn to win their second straight Carolinas Women’s Four-Ball Championship with a record-tying score.

Castle’s individual success over the summer followed Kentucky’s historic return to the NCAA Championship Finals in the spring. The Wildcats’ reached the national championship stage in Scottsdale, Arizona, the program’s first appearance since 1992. Of course, Castle played a central role in the Wildcats’ breakthrough, contributing 30 of her 33 scores to the team total.

In addition to four collegiate events this fall, Castle also competed in the LPGA Tour’s Cognizant Founders Cup on a special exemption.

Castle and the Wildcats will break for the winter before returning in mid-January for the start of the spring slate. She is currently ranked No. 55 in the Golfstat’s individual rankings.

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