After hard-luck finish at NCAAs, Wake Forest's Jennifer Kupcho gets sweet consolation prize
How do you get over losing a national championship? How about qualifying for another one.
Jennifer Kupcho’s heartbreaking stumble on the second-to-last hole at the NCAA Women’s Championship on Monday was somewhat tempered two days later when the Wake Forest sophomore shot a 68-72 during U.S. Women’s Open qualifying in Colorado and earned a spot into the field at Trump Bedminister in July.
It’s the second straight year that Kupcho, a 20-year-old from Westminster, Colo., will be playing in the Women’s Open. Last year at CordeValle, she missed the cut with rounds of 77-78.
This week’s performance showed an ability to get past the disappointment of Monday’s finish at Rich Harvest Farms. Kupcho held a four-stroke lead in the race for the NCAA individual title with four holes to play. But on the par-4 17th, after hitting a perfect drive and having just 127 yards to the hole, her approach shot it the bank in front of the green and rolled back into the water guarding the hole. She eventually made a triple-bogey 7 and wound up losing the title by one stroke to Arizona State’s Monica Vaughn.
This is now the ninth USGA event that Kupcho has qualified for, having played in the Women's Open, Women's Amateur, Girls' Junior, Women's APL, Women's State Team and Women's Four-Ball.
Kupcho’s sophomore season at Wake Forest was an unusual one. She won three times along with three runner-up finishes and was named a first-team All-American. But it also involved an unusual incident in February on the course in which she suffered a concussion after being in a golf cart accident during the Northrup Grumman Regional Challenge. She underwent the NCAA’s Concussion Safety Protocol treatment, and had to sit out practices until she stopped feeling symptoms (headaches and an inability to concentrate). Eventually she got back to full strength and finished in the top three of her final five starts for the season.