Kupcho wins Colorado Junior Stroke Play

GREELEY, COL. (July 7, 2011) -- Steven Kupcho seems to feel right at home in Greeley, which is a good thing considering he’ll be starting his University of Northern Colorado golf career there in the fall.

On Thursday, Kupcho got in his Greeley groove by winning his first CGA championship at Greeley Country Club. After holding off an early challenge from Cameron Harrell of Pine Creek Golf Club, Kupcho cruised to a six-stroke victory in the Junior Stroke Play.

The winning margin was the tournament’s second-largest of the 21st century. Only Wyndham Clark’s 11-shot blowout in 2009 is bigger.

“This feels great,” said Kupcho, an 18-year-old from Westminster. “I’ve played a lot of CJGA (tournaments) for years and years, and I’ve just kind of turned it on these last couple of years. To see all these guys I looked up to in the last two or three years, and to be in their spot now, it’s pretty special.”The win was Kupcho’s second major Colorado junior golf triumph in the last two weeks, coming on the heels of his second consecutive victory in the Colorado Junior PGA Championship.

Kupcho, who plays out of the Omni Interlocken Golf Club, shot a 1-under-par 69 in Thursday’s final round and finished at 3-under 207 for three rounds.

“This is probably one of my top (wins),” he said. “It’s right up there with the Colorado PGA, if not a step above it. Obviously, it’s a three-day tournament (the Colorado Junior PGA is two rounds), so it’s even more a test of endurance. This is definitely the top of my accomplishments I think.”

Harrell, who has signed a letter of intent with Colorado State University, earned a share of the lead with a 6-foot birdie on the second hole Thursday, but Kupcho countered with a 2-foot birdie on No. 4 to pull ahead for good. With Kupcho playing his last 12 holes in even par, while Harrell went 5 over during the same stretch due to a balky putter, the margin only widened on the back nine.Harrell (pictured hitting at left) was left frustrated after three-putting four times in the last 11 holes, and missing several other putts inside of 5 feet.

“I got off to a good start and tied him early, which I wanted to do.” said Harrell, whose brother Kory won the Junior Stroke Play title in 2008. “But 7, 8 and 9 were killers. I missed a 3-footer, three-putted, and missed a 3-footer again. Going onto the back nine, (Kupcho) had the door open for me all day. Even with pars I would have been right there. But I could never take it. The putter was just a killer today. This week was just god-awful” putting.

Kupcho, who played on a CGA-sponsored Junior America’s Cup team with Harrell last year, punctuated his win Thursday with a 15-foot chip-in birdie on the 16th hole (pictured at top).

“For that to go in, that was icing on the cake,” he said. “That kind of sealed it.”

Harrell finished with a 74 Thursday to place second at 213, while Benjamin Moore of Glenmoor Country Club (71-214) was third and Cole Nygren of Colorado National Golf Club (70-215) was fourth.

Kupcho was the only player under par for 54 holes, which made the victory especially satisfying.

“Up until this year I had never shot under par for a two- or three-day tournament before,” he said. “Then to think I’ve done it three or four times this summer -- that’s pretty special. It kind of shows me the work I put in this spring with the putting and the short game is paying off.”

ABOUT THE Colorado Junior Amateur

Invitation only. Open to active CGA members through the summer immediately follow graduation from high school, who have not reached their 19th birthday on or before the start of the tournament. 54 holes stroke play at scratch. Final round will be cut to the low 40 scores and ties.

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