Driving Excellence: Gatton Students Laney Frye and Jensen Castle Shine on the Greens

By Lindsey Brinkley

The Gatton College is home to many talented Kentucky student athletes, two of whom showcased their talent on the National stage at the U.S Women’s Amateur Championship, representing UK and the Gatton College in a great way. The U.S. Women's Amateur Championship is one of the premier golf tournaments for female amateur golfers in the United States. Organized by the United States Golf Association (USGA), the championship provides a platform for top amateur players to showcase their skills and compete against one another on a national stage. The 2023 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship was held at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, California.

Laney Frye, a senior Management major from Nicholasville, Kentucky, showcased her impressive golfing skills at the championship. Having already achieved recognition as a two-time All-American, Frye's performance in the tournament was marked by her ability to consistently make her mark on the leaderboard.

In the opening round of stroke play, Frye managed a 2-over-par 72, positioning herself among the competitors. Despite a challenging start, including a few early bogeys, she displayed her determination and skill, recovering with birdies and pars that enabled her to secure a spot in the match play round of 64.

Continuing to demonstrate her competitive spirit, Frye entered the match play round as the No. 40 seed. Facing tough opposition in the form of Leigh Chien, the No. 25 seed, Frye's resilience shone through. In a closely contested match that extended to 22 holes, she eventually emerged victorious with a par on the par-4 No. 4, earning her a hard-fought win and a place in the round of 32.

While her journey ended there with a narrow defeat to eighth-seeded Nikki Oh, Frye's performance in the championship highlighted her determination, skill, and ability to rise to the occasion. As she prepares to return for her senior season on the University of Kentucky women's golf team, Frye's impressive accomplishments and contributions to the sport continue to position her as a rising star on the greens.

Jensen Castle, a Master of Science of Marketing student hailing from West Columbia, South Carolina, demonstrated her prowess in the realm of golf at the Championships. Known for her remarkable journey from earning the 63rd seed after stroke play to triumphing as the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion, Castle's tenacity and skill were once again on display as she vied for victory.

Castle's journey in the championship included a playoff for one of the nine spots available, which she navigated successfully by making par on the par-3 No. 10 at Bel-Air Country Club. This victory marked her fourth consecutive appearance in the U.S. Women's Amateur, underscoring her consistent presence and performance at the championship. While Castle's run eventually came to an end in the round of 64 against third-seeded Gianna Clemente, her resilience and ability to thrive in competitive environments are evident.

The remarkable performance from both Laney and Jensen illuminates the intersection of golfing excellence and the Gatton College experience. As they continue to make waves in the world of golf, their achievements serve as a testament to the transformative education and unwavering spirit fostered by Gatton College. With both Laney and Jensen leading the way, Gatton College continues to empower its students to shine brightly, both on and off the greens.