Kupcho becomes the first Coloradan since 1994 to earn spot on U.S. Curtis Cup team
by Gary Baines
Jennifer Kupcho will spend a fair amount of the 2018 golf season happily clad in USA golf gear.
A month ago, it was announced that the Westminster resident will be part of the first group of women who will compete for the U.S. in the Arnold Palmer Cup, a Ryder Cup-style competition between college players from America and their international counterparts that will take place July 6-8 in France.
Then on Tuesday, Kupcho received even a bigger honor when the USGA named her one of eight golfers who earned spots on the American team that will face Great Britain & Ireland in the Curtis Cup, a biennial match-play competition featuring some of the world’s top women amateurs.
The 40th Curtis Cup matches will take place June 8-10 at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y.
“It is very exciting and quite an honor to get to represent the U.S. as one of eight girls,” Kupcho (pictured) said via email on Tuesday morning. “I’m excited to switch the waters and be teammates with girls that I’m always competing against. It is going to be an awesome experience and a great start to the summer. This is one of my greater honors because the girls in the USA are great golfers and being one of the top competitors is a very big honor.”
Kupcho will have the distinction of being the first player who grew up in Colorado to play in the Curtis Cup since 1994, when Jill McGill made the U.S. team. McGill, winner of the 1993 U.S. Women’s Amateur and the 1994 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, is a Cherry Creek High School graduate who went on to win more than $2.3 million in a long LPGA Tour career. She’s also a Colorado Golf Hall of Fame inductee. Kimberly Kim, who played one season at the University of Denver, competed in the Curtis Cup in 2008 and 2010.
Suffice it to say Kupcho is in elite company.
“Jennifer Kupcho is a fierce competitor,” Liz Fradkin, Team USA’s manager for the Curtis Cup, said during a USGA Facebook telecast on Tuesday.
Joining Kupcho on the U.S. squad will be:
— UCLA’s Lilia Vu, 20, of Fountain Valley, Calif., the world’s top-ranked women’s amateur.
— UCLA’s Mariel Galdiano, 19, of Pearl City, Hawaii.
— The University of Alabama’s Kristen Gillman, 20, of Austin, Texas.
— Stanford’s Andrea Lee, 19, of Hermosa Beach, Calif.
— Luci Li, 15, of Redwood Shores, Calif.
— The University of Texas’ Sophia Schubert, 22, of Oak Ridge, Tenn.
— The University of Alabama’s Lauren Stephenson, 20, of Lexington, S.C.
Galdiano and Lee also played in the event in 2016. Meanwhile, Li is the youngest U.S. Curtis Cupper since Lexi Thompson in 2010.
Virginia Derby Grimes, winner of the 1998 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, will be the U.S. captain.
“Our committee is extremely thoughtful during the selection process and takes very seriously the opportunity to select the members of this team,” said Martha Lang, a member of the USGA Executive Committee and former U.S. team captain. “We know the players we selected are extraordinarily talented competitors.”
Kupcho, a junior at Wake Forest in North Carolina, currently stands No. 3 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Rankongs. She recently won her second individual title of this college season and the fifth of her college career.
The Coloradan was the women’s NCAA individual runner-up last year after leading by two strokes with two holes remaining. In the national individual women’s college rankings this season, Kupcho is No. 9 according to both Golfweek and Golfstat. Besides her two wins individually this season, Kupcho has collected a runner-up and a sixth-place finish among her eight tournaments.
The 20-year-old has been a dominant force in Colorado women’s golf for several years and has been making a mark nationally and internationally recently.
Besides finishing second in the Women’s NCAA Championships in 2017, Kupcho qualified for her second straight U.S. Women’s Open, and she went on to finish 21st overall — and second among amateurs — in arguably the most presigious women’s golf tournament in the world.
Kupcho also claimed her first national title as she won the Canadian Women’s Amateur by five strokes. At the U.S. Women’s Amateur, she made the match play round of 64. Collegiately, she won an NCAA Regional and she was a finalist for women’s college player of the year.
The Jefferson Academy graduate earned the CWGA highest’s honor — the President’s Award — in 2017 after being named the CWGA Player of the Year for an unprecented three consecutive years (2014-16). She was inducted into the Sportswomen of Colorado’s Hall of Fame last year after being named the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame’s Golf Person of the Year in 2016.
Additionally in 2017, Kupcho won her third consecutive CWGA Stroke Play, this one with a 13-shot victory margin. And at the CoBank Colorado Women’s Open, she placed second for the second time while competing against a field that included many professionals.
The USA leads the all-time Curtis Cup series 28-8-3, but Great Britain & Ireland has won two of the last three meetings, including in 2016 in Ireland.
The Curtis Cup competition features six foursomes (alternate-shot) matches, six four-ball (best-ball) matches and eight singles matches over the course of the three days.
Among the Colorado Golf Hall of Famers who have competed in the Curtis Cup over the years are Barbara McIntire (1958, ’60, ’62, ’64, ’66 and ’72; captain in 1976 and ’98), Judy Bell (1960 and ’62; captain in 1986 and ’88), Tish Preuss (1962, ’64, ’66, ’68 and ’70; captain in 1984), Nancy Roth Syms (1964, ’66 and ’76; captain in 1980), Carol Sorenson Flenniken (1964 and ’66) and Jill McGill (1994). Another Coloradan, Dana Howe, played on the 1984 U.S. team.
Two Colorado clubs have hosted the Curtis Cup, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs in 1962 and Denver Country Club in 1982.