Jennifer Kupcho produced a sensational finish to win the inagural Augusta National Women's Amateur Champion by four shots
Jennifer Kupcho, the world’s top-ranked amateur, played her final six holes in five under par to beat out Mexico’s Maria Fassi and become the first champion of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
The final round of the competition was contested by 30 players over Augusta National after two rounds at the nearby Champions Retreat, but the challenge for the title was between Fassi and Kupcho from the outset.
Kupcho held a one shot lead heading in to Saturday, but by the 12th hole she was trailing her playing partner Fassi by two.
Her eagle on No. 13 kickstarted an impressive second-nine stretch that also included birdies on the par-5 15th, par-3 16th and par-4 18th.
The 21-year-old from Westminster, Colo., was fighting a migraine that resulted in blurry vision as she made the turn. She battled back to record a five-under-par 67 – fittingly, the lowest round of the championship – to tally a 10-under-par 206 total for the three rounds and win by four strokes.
“It’s always a great feeling to win,” said Kupcho. “But I think to win at Augusta National, just to get to walk the fairways and walk up 18 with as many fans as there were, it’s an experience like none other.”
The reigning NCAA individual champion punctuated her victory with a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole.
“I think, first of all, for me to hit the first tee shot of the tournament, just to open it up, it was a great honor to be able to do that,” said Kupcho, who hit the very first drive of the inaugural championship in the first round Wednesday. “And then to be able to hit the last putt and to win, it's just amazing. It's an amazing feeling, to have my brother here, to have my parents here, everyone out there supporting me. It was quite a day.”
Before her late surge, Kupcho began feeling the effects a migraine on the eighth green and was having trouble seeing on her left side. That is when Fassi edged ahead for the first time with a birdie. Kupcho went on to bogey the 10th after a three-putt – her first in 110 holes in competition.
“I couldn’t see,” Kupcho explain. “It was very blurry when I missed that putt (on 10), and I couldn’t really be mad at myself. I just knew that the blurriness would go away, and then I know it just comes with a bad headache after, so I was going to be able to recover. I just told myself, ‘Hey, you got it. Relax. There’s nothing you can do.’”