UK golfer Frye saw other side of the links during Barbasol Championship

Published 4:01 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2023

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It was no surprise to see University of Kentucky senior golfer Laney Frye walking the course at the Barbasol Championship when it was played recently at Keene Trace Golf Club outside Lexington because she’s played hundreds of rounds there.

She’s also been to the PGA Tour event there in various capacities. She was the standard bearer in 2018 when LPGA star Brittany Lincicome played in the event. She’s worked as part of the First Tee program at the tourney to help introduce youngsters to golf.

However, this year she had a new experience as she caddied for former UK golfer Stephen Stallings and said that easily was No. 1 on her Barbasol experiences even though Stallings did not survive the 36-hole cut.

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“To be inside the ropes and helping make decisions and reading putts and seeing the course playing in championship conditions was pretty cool,” said Frye.

She recently qualified to play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur in Los Angeles Aug. 7-13 — her third straight year to qualify to play in the prestigious event. Still, she said she learned plenty to help her game while caddying for Stallings.

“I could watch the momentum changes and how they (PGA Tour players) handle the ups and downs mentally. That was huge to learn and take away information. You can observe and learn a lot by being in those conversations,” she said. “You can kind of tell when they are feeling good over a shot. You don’t have to be feeling good to hit a good shot, but it helps. I definitely got a way to go mentally after watching them.”

Frye has known Stallings for about years, and they have practiced and played together in Florida. She had mentioned to him she would be willing to caddy if he got in the Barbasol Championship, and when he did get in the tourney, he made the call.

“He just texted me what kind of bag did I want to carry and I told him as light as possible,” Frye said.

She said if he wasn’t listening to her during the tourney, “he had me fooled,” as they communicated often.

“I play the course pretty often, so he did value what I had to say. I said what I thought and he listened,” she said.

Frye is doing nothing special to prepare for the U.S. Amateur but playing as much golf as possible.

“I don’t put it on a pedestal, but I know it is a USGA event and will be well run with fast, firm greens. Everything should be pretty perfect and that makes it fun,” she said. “It’s a field of 156 (players), so somebody has to win. I will just put my head down and play my game.”

She played in the U.S. Open in 2022 and she was the most nervous she had ever been on the court.

“Honestly, it can enhance your game if you look at it in the right way because everything is kind of firing a little bit more. So I hope I am a little nervous (at the Amateur),” she said.

She is coming off a school-record 70.9 stroke average through 30 rounds in the 2022-23 season, where she set school records for single-season, par-or-better rounds (20), career par-or-better rounds (47) and the low 18-hole round (63). She’s been named to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-America Second Team, Golfweek All-America Third Team, College Sports Communicators Academic All-America First Team and the All-Southeastern Conference Second Team.

Frye, a business major with a 4.0 grade-point average, also won the Edith Cummings Munson Golf Award presented to the Division I golf student-athlete who is an upperclassman and both a Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-American Scholar and WGCA All-American.

Frye doesn’t consider the honors a “big deal” but more part of her career process.

“I am trying to get better and that’s part of it. I am thankful (for the honors). It is probably a big deal to other people but to me it is just part of the process and I am thankful for it and excited about what next season will bring us,” Frye said.