Coloradan Kupcho wins her second straight Women’s NCAA Regional; CU women advance to NCAA Finals by 1 shot
by Gary Baines
Jennifer Kupcho of Westminster has this NCAA Regional thing down pat.
The Wake Forest junior won a Women’s NCAA Division I Regional tournament for the second straight year on Wednesday, this time in Tallahassee, Fla. It guaranteed her a spot in the NCAA Finals May 18-23 in Stillwater, Okla., though Wake Forest later won the final available team berth to nationals by defeating Clemson on the first hole of a playoff. Appropriately, Kupcho sank the clinching putt in the playoff.
“I was just fighting for the team and knew the team needed every single one of my strokes,” Kupcho told WakeForestSports.com. “I think that’s what was pushing me. It is so exciting to have the team qualify. My freshman and sophomore years I went by myself, so I really wanted the team to be with me and I’m glad to make the last putt.”
Kupcho (pictured) finished second individually in last year’s national championships after leading by two strokes going into her next-to-last hole. In her first two appearances in the NCAA Finals, Kupcho has placed sixth and second individually.
Also advancing to the Women’s Finals on Wednesday was the University of Colorado women’s team, and Coloradan Hannah Wood, the latter by virtue of her University of Oklahoma squad landing the sixth and final team berth in the Austin, Texas Regional. It will be the senior’s final college event.
After two straight years of missing qualifying for nationals by one stroke, CU turned the tables on Wednesday, earning the sixth and final berth in the San Francisco Regional by one stroke over a pair of opponents. The payoff is the Buffs’ first NCAA Finals since 2012 — and just their second ever.
Wednesday’s individual victory was the sixth of Kupcho’s college career and the third of this season. Kupcho, the third ranked women’s amateur in the world, will represent the U.S. in both the Curtis Cup and the Arnold Palmer Cup in coming months.
Kupcho — who shot a 64 on Tuesday, her personal best in competition — backed that up with a 5-under-par 67 on Wednesday. That left her with a 15-under-par 201 total, which matches the 54-hole women’s Wake Forest scoring record, set by the Coloradan last season.
Kupcho eagled the 524-yard fourth hole on Wednesday and added five birdies and two bogeys. She finished a stroke better than Lauren Stephenson of Alabama.
Meanwhile, as a team Wake Forest outscored Clemson by 10 in the final round and prevailed in the playoff to advance its entire squad to nationals.
In San Francisco, Colorado (at left in a CUBuffs.com photo) shot a 1-under-par 287 in Wednesday’s final round, leaving the Buffs at 5-over-par 869. That was good for sixth place — the last position to advance to Finals. Oklahoma State and San Diego State checked in at 870 and North Carolina at 871.
“We have been on the other side of the bubble the last two years and it feels good to be on this side,” CU coach Anne Kelly told CUBuffs.com.
Senior Brittany Fan led the way for CU individually, tying for sixth place. She went 66-75-70 for a 5-under 211 total. Patty Tavatanakit of UCLA earned the individual title at 208.
In Austin, Wood finished 56th individually with a 227 total, but the senior’s Oklahoma team will move on with its sixth-place showing.
A mysterious virus affected many players and coaches at the Austin Regional. That included Colorado State University coach Annie Young, who was hospitalized.
Here are the scores for all the Colorado-based teams and local players who competed this week:
Women’s NCAA Division I Regionals
May 7-9, 2018 (Final)
At San Francisco
6. (out of 18 teams) Colorado 284-298-287–869
6. Brittany Fan 66-75-70–211
13. Robyn Choi 73-73-69–215
17. Kirsty Hodgkins 71-74-71–216
74. Gillian Vance 74-77-77–228
77. Alisha Lau 76-76-77–229
At Tallahassee, Fla.
12. (out of 18 teams) Denver 297-290-293–880
34. Sophie Newlove 74-72-72–218
40. Mary Weinstein 74-74-71–219
40. Jessica Dreesbeimdieke 76-73-70–219
54. Lauren Whyte 73-71-80–224
87. Camille Enright 76-79-80–235
1. Coloradan Jennifer Kupcho, Wake Forest 70-64-67–201
At Austin, Texas
24. Katrina Prendergast, CSU 73-71-75–219
56. Coloradan Hannah Wood, Oklahoma 78-71-78–227
69. Ellen Secor, CSU 82-74-76–232
72. Coloradan Anna Kennedy, BYU 76-78-79–233