A week before a handful of PGA major championship winners come to Central Kentucky to compete in the Barbasol Championship, Lexington will host 144 of the best female junior golfers in the world.
The 43rd Girls Junior PGA Championship is coming to Kentucky for the first time at Kearney Hill Golf Links when play begins Monday.
The tournament, which features four Kentuckians, will conclude Thursday. The field is comprised of the champions and runners-up from each of the PGA's 41 section junior championships, and others qualified via other top-tier national events.
Four of the top junior golfers in Kentucky will compete for the national championship, which also has two U.S. Junior Ryder Cup spots on the line.
Three of the four were named first team All-State last year. Laney Frye, a rising junior at Lexington Christian Academy from Nicholasville, won last month's qualifier at Kearney Hill with a two-day score of 141, three strokes under par.
Taylor Edlin and Madison Smith tied for second in June's qualifying tournament with an even-par score of 144.
Edlin, from Prospect, and Smith, from Union, joined Frye in receiving first-team All-State honors last high school season. Edlin is a rising senior at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville and Smith will be a Cooper High School senior. Both have committed to play at Middle Tennessee State. Rylea Marcum earned the last qualifying spot after the rising junior from Scott County High School won the Kentucky Girls' Junior Amateur Championship by two strokes.
Marcum, a Western Kentucky commit from Georgetown, fired rounds of 70 and 68 to win with a score of 6 under par for the tournament at Cherry Blossom Golf Course in Georgetown. Smith came in second with a score of 140, finishing at 4 under par. Frye and Edlin tied for fourth with a two-day total of 145.
The rest of the field at Kearney Hill features three California golfers in defending champion Rose Zhang, 2016 winner Lucy Li and 2017 runner-up Yealimi Noh. A pair of Stanford commits will also compete for the title as Rachel Heck of Memphis, Tenn., and Sadie Englemann from Austin, Texas, are set to play as is 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior Champion and Duke commit Erica Shepherd from Greenwood, Ind.
Zhang won last year's championship at the Country Club of St. Albans in Missouri by six strokes. Zhang tied the lowest 72-hole total with a score of 268. Frye tied for 49th place at 9 over par while Edlin and Marcum missed the cut after two rounds. Smith did not play in last year's championship.
Next week's tournament will reward its champion and runner-up with automatic spots in the Junior Ryder Cup. All contestants who are members of the high school graduating class of 2019 or younger and who are also U.S. citizens are eligible for exemption spots on the Ryder Cup team if they place in the top two.
Kearney Hill has brought major golf events to Lexington before, playing host to a PGA senior tour event from 1990-1997. The course also hosted the U.S. men’s and women's Amateur Public Links Championships in 1998 and 2007, respectively.