In the Spotlight

Coloradan Jennifer Kupcho goes 1-0-1 in her first two matches in Curtis Cup as U.S. leads GB&I 4-2
by Gary Baines

Jennifer Kupcho has played her share of two-person team golf in Colorado. The NCAA individual champion from Westminster has won the CGA Women’s Mashie (2016, with Gillian Vance) and the CGA Women’s Chapman (2014, with Jaclyn Murray). And she teamed up with Vance at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball.

But the Curtis Cup, which began on Friday in Scarsdale, N.Y., is a different animal.

The biennial matches are televised nationally throughout this weekend, on FS1. And the competitors are playing for their country — a la the Ryder Cup — as the eight best female amateurs from the U.S. take on their counterparts from Great Britain & Ireland.

Kupcho, a graduate of Jefferson Academy and now a senior-to-be at Wake Forest, is the first player to grow up in Colorado and play in the Curtis Cup since 1994, when Cherry Creek High School graduate Jill McGill did so.

Kupcho (pictured, at left) has received plenty of national TV exposure the last two years on the final day of stroke play at the Women’s NCAA Finals as she finished second in 2017 and won this year. And it was more of the same on Friday. In fact, when the Curtis Cup first came on the air on Friday morning, the first action FS1 showed was of Kupcho, who was part of the first match of the event.

As it turned out, day 1 of the most prestigious team event in women’s amateur golf was mostly positive for Kupcho. The Wake Forest golfer halved her morning four-ball (better-ball) match while paired with 15-year-old phenom Lucy Li. And in the afternoon American pairing of the top two women’s amateurs in the world — Kupcho is No. 2 and UCLA’s Lilia Vu is No. 1 — she and Vu won 2 up in foursomes (alternate shot).

Overall, the U.S. came out of Friday with a 4-2 over GB&I, which has won two of the last three Curtis Cup competitions. All time, the Americans are up 28-8-3 in the matches.

In the four-ball, Kupcho and Li were 3 up through 12 holes, but opponents Olivia Mehaffey and Sophie Lamb won 13, 15 and 17 with Mehaffey birdies. Then Mehaffey drained a 10-foot par putt on No. 18 to halve the match. Mehaffey, ranked No. 16 in the world among women’s amateurs, and Lamb played their last 11 holes in 5 under par.

Kupcho, who made birdie putts of 30 feet on 8 and 18 feet on 9, and Li were a better-ball 3 under par through 12 holes, then made pars the rest of the way.

Then in the foursomes, Kupcho and Vu exchanged the lead early with Alice Hewson and India Clyburn, but the Americans led from the eighth hole on. They were 2 up after 14, but three-putted No. 15 to lose the hole.

Kupcho sank a 4-foot par putt to halve No. 16, but hit an off-line tee shot on 17 that left Vu with a awkward stance with the ball at knee level just outside of a fairway bunker. But after Vu managed to get the appoach in a greenside bunker, Kupcho redeemed herself by hitting the flagstick with her sand shot, leaving a conceded 6-inch putt for a halved par.

On 18, Kupcho put her approach 30 feet behind the hole, but after Vu putted to 4 feet, the Americans didn’t even need to attempt the par as GB&I three-putted after being in the greenside sand.

“We kind of struggled down the stretch,” Kupcho said on FS1 after the foursomes match. “We were putting each other in kind of different places that we’re not used to, but we brought it out and came through.”

Saturday will be another day of four-ball in the morning and foursomes in the afternoon, with FS1’s coverage running 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and from 3-6 p.m. (MT). Then on Sunday, it will be singles matches.

For all the scores from the Curtis Cup, CLICK HERE.

2018-06-08T17:15:22+00:00June 8th, 2018|