The Meijer Classic produced the LPGA's best leaderboard of the season
Rey Del Rio
The leaderboard at the Meijer LPGA Classic looked like it had been fabricated, that’s how good it was. Heading into the final round, Nelly Korda led, followed by Jennifer Kupcho, Brooke Henderson, Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko and Minjee Lee. As should be no surprise with a leaderboard packed with the game’s stars, it took a three-way playoff to finally crown Jennifer Kupcho champion.
Kupcho first came into the golf spotlight at the 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, where the tournament basically turned into an electric match between Kupcho and Maria Fassi. From there, Kupcho finished her final season at Wake Forest and turned professional. But it took three years for her to win on tour. Earlier this year, Kupcho won the Chevron Championship. After adding her second LPGA win just a couple months later, it appears the 25-year-old from Colorado now feels perfectly comfortable at the top of a leaderboard.
At the Meijer LPGA Classic, Kupcho shot rounds of 63-67-69-71 to end up in a three-way playoff with Leona Maguire, who played for Duke and competed against Kupcho in college. Maguire also secured her first win this year. The third player in the playoff was Nelly Korda, the defending champion playing in her second tournament since returning to competition after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot.
The talent-filled playoff didn’t last long, however. Kupcho could’ve ended it after one hole, but her short eagle putt lipped out. Korda three-putted, sending Kupcho and Maguire to the second playoff hole. This time, Maguire, uncharacteristically, missed a short birdie putt while Kupcho made hers, clinching her second LPGA victory.
“I thought she was going to make it,” Kupcho said. “When she hit it by the hole and I still had to putt from the fringe I thought to myself, that's not a gimme because I was just shaking and missed essentially a same-length putt. But then once I made the tap-in, I was already looking at the rules official to go to the next hole. Honestly, it was just a shock. She went to Duke, I went to Wake Forest. Playing with her so much, she doesn't miss putts. I was really just shocked.”
While having a stacked leaderboard at the same time as the U.S. Open was being played wasn't ideal, it is a good sign as the LPGA Tour moves straight into its next major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. The game’s biggest stars have proven they are playing well as they prepare to take on historic Congressional Counry Club.