Top amateur golf moments of 2018, No. 16: Demons avenged
Jennifer Kupcho (Photo illustration)
Jennifer Kupcho (Photo illustration)

At AmateurGolf.com, we admit to loving the amateur sector of this game for the stories, the depth of the players, the remarkable courses, the history of the tournaments and the sheer love of the game displayed by amateur golfers. As 2018 comes to a close, we’ve gathered the year’s best stories for a countdown to the end of the season. Be sure to come back each day to relive the moments that made amateur golf great this year.

Click here to see the whole list as it is revealed

You can’t often say that a player is overdue for a national title, but last spring, Jennifer Kupcho was. As a Wake Forest junior, Kupcho became the program’s first female NCAA individual champion in May after two close calls. There wasn’t a player more deserving.

Kupcho was T-6 as a freshman then gave it away as a sophomore when she lost her lead with a triple bogey at No. 17. Facing an approach over water on the penultimate hole, Kupcho left it short and wet. She drove it in a hazard on No. 18 and ultimately was runner-up.

“I probably didn’t do as great of job last year on 17 as I needed to, but we talk to our girls all the time about every day is a learning opportunity,” said Wake Forest assistant Ryan Potter, looking back. Potter walked with Kupcho for much of the week at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla., as well as during the 2017 tournament.

This year, Kupcho cruised to a two-shot victory, assured she’d be back for her senior season and then made good on her promise. Kupcho could be on the LPGA this spring but has deferred the LPGA card she earned with a second-place finish at the LPGA Q-Series (more on that in a later piece of this countdown).

Kupcho doesn’t often display much emotion. Even when she won an NCAA title and even when she won point after point during the Curtis Cup, Kupcho remained emotionally in check. Perhaps that’s one reason she was able to put the 2017 loss behind her. Initially, she admitted, it hurt. But days later she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open. She won three times in her junior season leading up to the national title, and in the fall of 2018, was inside the top 25 in all three starts.

Put aside the near-miss at the 2017 national championship, and Kupcho has still had to deal with some adversity. She fell off a golf cart in a freak accident the previous season and suffered a concussion, then watched teammates succumb to injury and Wake Forest struggle to field a team last spring. Even though Wake Forest missed the first cut to 15 teams at Karsten Creek, her teammates still cheered her on in the final day of stroke play and were on hand to provide the traditional bottled water bath on the 18th green.

“It’s just exciting to get here after everything I’ve been through with the concussion and struggles with the team and now getting to be here with my team and having them celebrate with me after I made the putt,” she said.

ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Women's Championship

30 teams and 6 individuals not on a qualifying team make up the field for the championship of NCAA Division I women's golf.

After 72 holes of stroke play, the individual champion is crowned, and the low 8 teams advance to match play to determine the team champion.

View Complete Tournament Information

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