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Hack looks to represent UK and Paducah at U.S. Women’s Open

UK golfer Anna Hack, who will play in the upcoming U.S. Women’s Open, practices at the University Club of Kentucky in Lexington on Tuesday, June 28, 2016.
UK golfer Anna Hack, who will play in the upcoming U.S. Women’s Open, practices at the University Club of Kentucky in Lexington on Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Herald-Leader

The U.S. Women’s Open starts this week in California, and among the field will be University of Kentucky freshman golfer Anna Hack. The Paducah native will represent the university and the state as she plays against the best pros and amateurs like herself from all over.

Hack finished second at a qualifier in St. Louis to secure her place in the field.

Hack made a name for herself as a high school golfer in Paducah, and once she felt she had accomplished everything she could at that level, she set her sights on the collegiate level.

“Throughout high school I had goals that I wanted to do, like playing college golf, and I wanted to play in the U.S. Girls’ Championship, which is the junior of the U.S. Open,” Hack said. “And so then after I met all my goals in high school, I just came to college and started working and decided that I wanted to try to qualify for some pro stuff.”

After shooting a second-round 69 in St. Louis — the lowest score of the qualifier — Hack clinched one of two spots in the U.S. Women’s Open field, a reward for all the hard work and practice she has put into her game.

The U.S. Women’s Open is July 7-10 at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif.

After the Wildcats’ disappointing finish to the season at the SEC Championship, UK Coach Golda Johansson Borst challenged the players to improve their games. So far this offseason, they have responded. Hack and some of her teammates have stayed in Lexington to practice and work with coaches.

“It’s really been a great summer so far, and it really says a lot about the character of the girls on our team,” Borst said. “It’s was a really tough year for us, but they are all buckling down and really working on their game. Everybody on the team wants to do better than they did.”

Borst noted Hack took the challenge to heart.

Hack’s ball-striking slipped during the fall, and her short game carried her. Now, after working with a swing coach over the winter, Hack has been able to put both her long and short games together, with positive results. She secured top-25 finishes in two of UK’s last three tournaments and earned her U.S. Open spot at the St. Louis qualifier in May.

This week, Hack’s main concern will be calming her nerves at a national championship event. UK assistant coach Brian May is with her in California to provide some guidance, and Borst is confident her consistency on the course will be able to carry her through.

“Anna has a tendency to get really excited when the moment gets big,” Borst said. “So she can just rely on her consistency off the tee and know that she can look to her short game to help her in certain areas if she strays off the green.”

No matter the result, the experience will be a good one for Hack’s golfing career, Borst said.

“Anna is Anna, and that’s who she’s going to be no matter where she is. That’s what we love about her. She’s not trying to be anybody else,” Borst said. “She’s from Paducah and loves that. We know her family is very supportive and, my goodness, the whole town of Paducah is behind her. And so is the whole University of Kentucky and Lexington.”

Anthony Crawford: 859-231-1627, @a_craw_