Kupcho ties for second individually as U.S. wins Women’s World Amateur Team Championship for first time in 20 years
by Gary Baines
It has a satisfying ring to it.
Jennifer Kupcho of Westminster, the Women’s NCAA Division I individual champion from Wake Forest, has represented the U.S. in three major international team competitions in the last three months. And in those championships, the Americans went 3-0.
The victories in the Curtis Cup and the Arnold Palmer Cup were nice, but there were just two teams involved in each case. At this week’s Women’s World Amateur Team Championship, there were 57 teams competing.
And though it was the Americans’ 14th victory in the competition, it was their first in 20 years.
Now that’s satisfying.
“It was so exciting to win as a team!” Kupcho said in a text exchange with ColoradoGolf.org. “We worked so well together and truly fought for every stroke because we wanted to win so badly for each other.”
(The victorious U.S. team is pictured, from left, Kristen Gillman, Kupcho, Lilia Vu and captain Stasia Collins in a USGA photo.)
The only thing that would have made it better for Kupcho would have been winning the individual competition in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday. But after holding the outright lead on several occasions in the middle of the final round — including with four holes remaining — she had to settle for second place individually out of 170 players.
But given the way individual champion Ayean Cho of South Korea played down the stretch, that undoubtedly made coming up a little short easier to take. Cho struggled in a big way at the end of the front nine on Saturday, playing her final five holes of that side in 4 over par.
But Cho, the No. 18-ranked women’s amateur in the world, kicked it into high gear on the back nine, shooting a 5-under 31. She played her final eight holes in 5 under and her final four in 3 under. Even with Kupcho posting a 2-under 34 on the back nine — and a 4-under 69 for the day — she couldn’t keep pace down the stretch.
Cho ended up with a 3-under-par 70 to finish at 17-under-par 273. Kupcho, the top-ranked women’s amateur in the world, shared second place individually at 275 with Japan’s Yuka Yasuda. Kupcho posted five birdies and one bogey in the final round.
“Individually I struggled with a couple of bad shots and a missed 1 1/2-footer on the 17 so congratulations to Ayean,” Kupcho texted. “She’s a great player and it was fun to play with her all four days.”
But this is primarily a team event, and the U.S. put its best foot forward by fielding a squad which featured the top three-ranked women’s amateurs in the world — Kupcho, UCLA’s Lilia Vu and Alabama’s Kristen Gillman, who recently won her second U.S. Women’s Amateur title.
The Americans took the lead after the second round and expanded it on day 3 and day 4.
With a 29-under-par total, the U.S. ended up prevailing by 10 strokes over runner-up Japan and by 11 over defending champion South Korea.
With the top two scores each day counting toward the team total, the Americans shot a 10-under 136 on Saturday, with Gillman carding a 67 and Kupcho a 69. Vu closed with a 74.
All three of the U.S. players finished in the top 20 individually, with Kupcho second (275), Gillman fourth (278) and Vu 17th (288).
The last time the U.S. had won the team title in this event was in 1998, when Coloradan Barbara McIntire was the non-playing captain.
Meanwhile, University of Colorado golfer Kirsty Hodgkins shot a 71 on Saturday to finish in 92nd place at 303 for four days. Her Australian team placed 14th at 577.
Here are the scores for the U.S. team, including Coloradan Jennifer Kupcho, in addition to those of CU golfer Kirsty Hodgkins, who’s competing for her native Australia:
1. (out of 57 teams) USA 142-130-143-136–551
2. (out of 170 individuals) Jennifer Kupcho 70-65-71-69–275
4. Kristen Gillman 74-65-72-67–278
17. Lilia Vu 72-69-73-74–288
92. CU golfer Kirsty Hodgkins, Australia 75-74-83-71–303
For all the results from the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship, CLICK HERE.