ST> LOUIS – Kentucky women’s golfer Anna Hack is headed to the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open in July after qualifying for the world’s premier golf championship during a sectional qualifier at Westwood Country Club in St. Louis on Tuesday.
After shooting a second-round 69, the lowest score of the qualifier, Hack edged professional Ember Shculdt on the third playoff hole to clinch one of two spots from the St. Louis sectional. Overall, Hack shot 4-over par in the 36-hole qualifier for second place.
The Paducah, Ky., native, who just completed her freshman season at Kentucky, will now head to the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open, to be held July 7-10 at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif. The world’s best women’s golfers will compete for the national championship that week and Hack will be of them.
“Playing in the U.S. Open is something you always dream of as a golfer and something I wanted to do this week,” Hack said. “To actually do it and see all the hard work pay off today is a moment I won’t forget. I want to thank Golda (Johansson Borst) and Brian (May) for all the time and effort they’ve put in with me to help my game mature and to push me to work harder. I can’t wait to get out to California to compete with some of the world’s best golfers and hope to use these next couple of months to continue getting better.”
Hack, along with the rest of the 63-player field, played 36 holes Tuesday. After firing a 7-over 79 in the first 18 holes, Hack had a lot of ground to make up to get back into contention. She did exactly that in the second round with the best round of the day.
Thanks to five birdies in the second round, including three in the final five holes, Hack stormed back and tied Schuldt with a 148. Hack had to make a birdie on the second playoff hole to stay alive and then eliminated Shculdt with a par on the third playoff hole to clinch the second qualifying spot.
Amateur Kasey Petty, from the University of Findlay, beat Hack by one stroke with a 3-over 147 to win the sectional championship.
“What a great comeback for Anna to grab a spot in her qualifier today,” UK women’s golf head coach Golda Johansson Borst said. “Anna is a such a fighter on the golf course and this is a really special moment for her. She has worked so hard since this winter and it’s rewarding to see it pay off at a moment like this. We are extremely proud of her and we know she will represent the Big Blue Nation with pride in California in a couple of months.”
The sectional qualifier in St. Louis is one of 25 U.S. Women’s Open qualifying tournaments (21 in the U.S., four internationally) that are taking place in the next month for the 71st U.S. Women’s Open field.
All sectional qualifiers are 36-hole, stroke play tournaments. The number of spots into the U.S. Women’s Open available at each sectional varies based on number of entries.
Hack’s appearance in this year’s U.S. Women’s Open will mark the second straight appearance for a Kentucky Wildcat in the national championship, which is open to female amateurs and female professionals across the country and globe. Former UK women’s golfer Mallory Blackwelder (2007-09) competed in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open.
Hack’s latest achievement continues her rapid rise within the program. Just a freshman at the time this past year, Hack was arguably UK’s best golfer down the stretch of the season, posting two top-25 finishes in two of her last three tournaments.
Fifteen of her final 17 rounds were in the 70s, and she posted a 76.3 stroke average in the spring, the second-best mark on the team. She notched a career-best 14th-place finish at the LSU Tiger Golf Classic and ended the season with a career-low 54-hole score of 223 at the Southeastern Conference Championship, tying for 23rd.