The day after Commencement is always one when the staff is really tired – and for me it is tough to blog. So imagine my delight when this story hit my inbox! Congratulations to Jennifer Kupcho, Coach Dailey, and the women’ golf program for this tremendous success. GO DEACS!
Kupcho wins NCAA Women’s Golf Championship!
By Wake Forest Athletic Communications (@WakeWGolf)
STILLWATER, Okla. – Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho captured the 2018 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship with a dramatic 4-under back-nine to post a two-shot victory at Karsten Creek Golf Course. Kupcho shot a final round 71 to finish the tournament at 8-under and become the fourth Demon Deacon golfer to win the NCAA title, the first for the women’s program.
“I have been working so hard for this and I have had a great team behind me,” said Kupcho. “It means so much to have my teammates here supporting me and it is great to bring this title back to Wake.”
Kupcho became the first wire-to-wire winner of the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship since Virada Nirapathpongporn of Duke in 2002. After tying the Karsten Creek scoring record with a first-round 7-under 65 on Friday, she was tied for the lead after the second round (5-under) and third round (7-under). The NCAA runner-up last year at Rich Harvest Farms, Kupcho becomes the first player to win the title the year after finishing second since Arizona’s Susan Slaughter in 1989 and 1990.
“I am so happy for Jennifer,” said head coach Dianne Dailey. “To be able to come back after last year is fantastic. Jennifer has the heart of a champion and nothing was going to keep her from winning it this year. She has worked hard all year for this moment.”
Kupcho started her final round strong, moving to 8-under after a birdie on No. 1. However, she struggled during a three-hole stretch where she went bogey-double bogey-bogey on holes No. 5-7 to fall back to 4-under and four shots off the lead. Birdies on No. 11, No. 12 and No. 14 got her a share of the lead at 7-under with four holes to play. Kupcho still held a share of the lead after a bogey at No. 15, but she sank a long birdie putt on No. 16 to give her a two-shot lead with two holes to play. A par on No. 17 set up a championship-clinching birdie on No. 18.
“I thought the winning score would be 10-under, so I was just trying to play my game, not focus on everyone else and see what I could do,” said Kupcho. “My assistant coach (Ryan Potter) kept telling me there was going to be mistakes down the stretch and just keep fighting after the front nine. I was just focused on hitting the shot that I had and seeing what I could do with it.”
Kupcho becomes Wake Forest’s fourth NCAA Champion golfer, the first by a female, joining Curtis Strange (1974), Jay Haas (1975) and Gary Hallberg (1979). The title is the ninth individual NCAA Championship in school history as Kupcho joins Andy Bloom (1996 men’s track discus, 1996 men’s track shot put), Bea Bielik (2002 women’s tennis singles), Michelle Sikes (2007 women’s track 5,000m) and Michael Bingham (2009 men’s track 400m) in addition to the men’s golfers.
The championship was the fourth of the year for Kupcho and the seventh of her career. She also won titles this season at the Ocean Course Invitational, Bryan National Collegiate and the NCAA Tallahassee Regional. Kupcho finished the season with a school-record 70.60 scoring average, eclipsing the record of 70.61 she set during her sophomore season.