In the middle of a spectacular senior season, Nebraska women’s golfer Kate Smith claimed her most prestigious honor yet on Tuesday, May 4, when she was chosen to represent the United States in the Arnold Palmer Cup June 11-13 at Rich Harvest Farms outside of Chicago. The official announcement of the players on the Palmer Cup teams was made live on the Golf Channel.
The Palmer Cup, which was co-founded by the legendary Arnold Palmer and the Golf Coaches Association of America, matches the top 12 U.S. men’s and women’s collegiate golfers against the top 12 collegiate men’s and women’s international golfers in a format similar to the Ryder Cup. It is the only major tournament that features men and women playing side-by-side as partners in a Mixed Four Ball format (12 groups of two-person teams).
“I am so honored to be selected to represent the United States on this year’s Palmer Cup team,” Smith said. “It should be an amazing experience, and I am excited to compete for my country at a high level.”
Smith, a fifth-year senior from Detroit Lakes, Minn., captured the 2021 Big Ten Women’s Golf Championship by tying her own Nebraska school record with a final-round 64 (-8) to win the 54-hole event by three strokes with a 207 (-9). She became Nebraska’s first-ever Big Ten women’s golf champion and NU’s first conference champion since All-American Sarah Sasse won the Big 12 title in 2003.
Earlier this spring, Smith competed in the second annual Augusta National Women’s Amateur and led the tournament through 11 holes to claim national headlines after her first round was suspended due to inclement weather. She fell just short of missing the cut at Augusta, falling in a playoff. In August of 2020, Smith finished in the top 16 in stroke play and advanced to the round of 32 in match play at the 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rockville, Md.
Nebraska Head Coach Lisa Johnson said Smith’s inclusion on the Palmer Cup for the U.S. team was an outstanding honor for a deserving player.
“This is a tremendous honor for Kate and she certainly earned it,” Johnson said. “Kate will represent Nebraska well among the elite college players in the country at the Palmer Cup. It has been so exciting to watch her receive all the recognition that she has earned this year because of the amazing work she has put into becoming one of the nation’s best collegiate golfers.”
A two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and the 2020 Mary Fossum Award winner for owning the best stroke average relative to par in the conference, Smith also was named the 2020 Minnesota Golf Association’s Women’s Co-Player of the Year.
The United States leads the all-time Palmer Cup series 12-11-1, but the international team won the most recent event, which was held at Bay Hill in Orlando in mid-December of 2020, following postponements caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Well over 100 former Arnold Palmer Cup alumni have gone on to earn cards on either the PGA Tour, European Tour or LPGA and 29 have represented the United States or Europe in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. More than 60 golfers have combined for more than 250 victories on the PGA or European Tours.