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Spirited comeback puts UK freshman golfer in U.S. Women’s Open

Anna Hack, a UK freshman from Paducah, has earned a spot in the U.S. Women’s Open to be played in California in July.
Anna Hack, a UK freshman from Paducah, has earned a spot in the U.S. Women’s Open to be played in California in July. UK Athletics

The 2016 U.S. Women’s Open will play host to the best amateur and professional women golfers in the world this July, and among the field will be University of Kentucky freshman Anna Hack.

Hack, who is from Paducah, qualified for the national championship after clinching one of two spots in the sectional qualifier at Westwood Country Club in St. Louis on Tuesday. Hack finished second in the event after shooting 4-over par in the 36-hole qualifier and edging professional Ember Schuldt in a playoff.

“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.”

When the Open tees off in California, Hack will be among a field of 156 players winnowed from 1,855 entrants.

Halfway through Tuesday’s 36-hole marathon, Hack was 7-over par and had a lot of ground to make up if she hoped to live out her dream. However, she showed in the second round why she was one of the standouts for the Wildcats all season, finishing with the qualifier’s lowest score of 69.

Hack played herself into contention with five birdies in the second round, including three in the final five holes to close the gap between her and Schuldt and force the playoff.

Playing in the U.S. Open is something you always dream of as a golfer and something I wanted to do this week.

Anna Hack, UK freshman golfer

Once in the playoff, Hack stayed hot, making a birdie to avoid elimination on the second hole and then eliminating Schuldt the following hole with a par.

“What a great comeback for Anna to grab a spot in her qualifier today,” UK women’s golf coach Golda Johansson Borst said. “Anna is a such a fighter on the golf course and this is a really special moment for her.”

Hack’s qualification puts a UK representative in the Open for the second year in a row. Former Cat Mallory Blackwelder, who played for UK from 2007-09, participated last year.

Hack finished her first college season this spring with the second-best stroke average on the UK team. This latest achievement only enhances the freshman’s bright future.

Hack and the rest of the field will tee off for the national championship July 7 at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif. The event runs through July 10.

“I can’t wait to get out to California to compete with some of the world’s best golfers,” Hack said. “And hope to use these next couple of months to continue getting better.”

Anthony Crawford: 859-231-1627, @a_craw_

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