Leonie Bettell plays in NCAA Golf Championship Monday

OPELIKA, Ala. – Kentucky women’s golfer Leonie Bettel will compete in this week’s NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship field in the Auburn Regional.

Bettel, who has put together one of the most impressive seasons in UK women’s golf history, was one of 24 individuals who earned individual selection in the field in late April. Bettel will begin play Monday at Saugahatchee Country Club (par 72, 6,371 yards) in Opelika, Alabama, with the first of three rounds.

The Auburn Regional, one of four regionals that will funnel the top teams and golfers into the NCAA Championships later in May, will be a 54-hole stroke-play format with 18 holes each on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Live stats will be available at GolfStat.com. Fans can also follow along on the official Kentucky women’s golf social media channels, @KentuckyWGolf.

“Obviously I am super excited about making it to regionals as an individual and getting another chance to compete in Kentucky blue for UK,” Bettel said upon selection in the field. “It’s my last season in college so making regionals makes it even better.”

Seventy-two teams and 24 individuals were selected to compete at one of the four regional sites, each featuring 18 teams and six individuals. From regional competition, 24 teams (the low six teams from each regional) and 12 individuals (the low three individuals not on those teams) will advance to the national championships, which will be played May 17-22 at the Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The other three regional tournaments are in East Lansing, Michigan; Norman, Oklahoma; and Cle Elum, Washington.

This week will mark Bettel’s third postseason appearance. She previously competed in NCAA Regional play twice with NC State. She tied for 59th as a freshman in 2016 and tied for 57th in 2017 as a sophomore, including an even-par 72 in the 2017 final round.

“We are looking forward to a very competitive week in Auburn and we will be heading to a new golf course for us; it’s one that I think Leo will be able to take advantage of due to her length off the tee and her strong iron game,” UK head coach Golda Borst said. “Qualifying for the national championships is a strong possibility for Leo if she is able to control her emotions and believe in herself throughout the whole tournament. I know she is looking forward to this opportunity and wants nothing else then to compete for a national championship.”

Bettel was certainly worthy of inclusion in this year’s field as a three-time individual champion, one win shy of Kate Rogerson (1987-88) for the most tournament titles in single-season history. She won the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship and Bettie Lou Evans Invitational in the fall to become the first Wildcat since Lauri Berles in 1995-96 to win two tournaments in a season, and she followed that up with a victory at the Clover Cup in the spring. She was named the Southeastern Conference Co-Women’s Golfer of the Week after the Clover Cup championship.

A midseason ANNIKA Award candidate, Bettel is averaging 72.8 strokes per 18-hole round, which would be the single-season school record if the season ended today. Isabelle Johansson averaged a 73.42 during the 2016-17 season. With a 71 in the second round of the SEC Championship, she moved past Johansson for the most single-season rounds of par or better in school history with 13.

Included in those 13 rounds of par or better was a 65 in the final round of the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship, which was just one stroke off the 18-hole school record, and a 54-hole school record of 205 (11-under par) at the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational.

With her three championships leading the way, Bettel has posted five top-10 finishes this season with two additional top-20 showings. She finished inside the top 10 in half of UK’s team tournaments this season and outside the top 20 in only three of the 10.

A model of consistency, all 29 of Bettel’s rounds this season were counted towards the team score.

Although the Wildcats did not make NCAA Regionals as a team, UK has made the postseason in six of nine seasons in the Borst era. In addition to Bettel’s three individual titles, Kentucky won the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational in the fall, UK’s first team championship since 2011.

The Saugahatchee Country Club, host of this week’s tournament, was ranked one of the top five in the state of Alabama by Golf Digest. Admission and parking are free for fans this week.

Bettel will be without her teammates this week but will have familiar faces on the course with four SEC teams in the field in Vanderbilt, Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee.

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