Big honor back home

Jennifer Kupcho named the Colorado Sportswoman of the Year for 2022 following her 3-victory season on the LPGA Tour

By Gary Baines – 3/12/2023

And the winner is …

On the night that the Oscars were presented in Hollywood, Jennifer Kupcho earned a prestigious award in her native state as the Sportswomen of Colorado gave the golfer its highest honor, naming her the 2022 Sportswoman of the Year on Sunday night at its annual banquet.

Kupcho became just the third golfer to land the Sportswoman of Colorado honor, following Cindy Hill (1974, the first year it was given) and Jill McGill (1993).

The Sportswoman award comes seven years after Kupcho went into the SWOC Hall of Fame.

“Growing up in Colorado and having Colorado golf behind me every step of the way throughout my career has been one of the greatest support systems that I could have asked for,” Kupcho said upon receiving the honor Sunday at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. “… I’m so honored to receive this award today.”

Kupcho, a Jefferson Academy graduate who went on to win an NCAA individual title and the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur championship while at Wake Forest, had a big-time breakout year on the LPGA Tour in 2022. 

Not only was she one of just two women to win three times on the LPGA circuit last year — with Lydia Ko being the other — but the first of her LPGA titles came at a major, the Chevron Championship.

Kupcho also captured first place at the Meijer LPGA Classic and the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational team event with Lizette Salas. All three of her 2022 LPGA victories came in the course of 15 weeks. 

Not surprisingly, Kupcho vaulted up the Rolex world rankings with her success, reaching as high as No. 9 on the planet among women. She also racked up $1.956 million in official LPGA earnings last year.

In reflecting on her meteoric rise on golf’s ladder of success, Kupcho gave thanks to many of her supporters, including her parents (Mike and Janet), her husband of just over a year (Jay Monahan), as well as her Colorado-based swing coach (Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Ed Oldham). Also, she gave props to the CGA and the organization once known as the Colorado Junior Golf Association “for having the greatest junior golf program and supporting me no matter where I am in the world.”

During her teenage years while a Westminster resident, Kupcho earned the CGA Women’s Player of the Year award three times (2014 through ’16). In the fall, the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame named Kupcho one of its Golf Persons of the Year for 2022.

During her Sunday speech, Kupcho noted that she was asked to use one word to describe her success, and she settled on “resilience. To me, resilience means overcoming difficulties and it’s about how I’ve grown in learning and managing the challenges I’ve faced — big or small.”

She gave several examples of how her resilience has paid off over the years: 

— Coming back to advance to the U.S. Girls’ Junior after making a quadruple bogey on her first hole of the qualifying tournament at CommonGround Golf Course, then being recruited by Wake Forest at the national championship. 

— Leading the individual competition at the 2017 NCAA national championships until a water ball on the next-to-last hole resulted in a triple bogey and a runner-up finish. She came back to win the national individual title the next year.

— Last year, after missing the cut the week before and not feeling good about her swing, Kupcho received help from Oldham on the eve of the Chevron Championship, where she went on to capture her first LPGA title — and a major at that. “That feeling is still something I can’t describe,” she said.

“In summary, reflecting on how I’ve become resilient is the best way I can make sense of my success,” Kupcho noted.  “While it may have been tough at the time wrapping my head around all the ups and downs of this crazy sport, it’s those challenges that made me the competitor that I am today. For that, I’m very grateful.”

Also among the people honored in the sport of golf at the Sportswomen of Colorado banquet on Sunday night were McGill (a SWOC Hall of Famer after winning the 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Open); Leigha Devine of Windsor and Rutgers University (college golf); Hadley Ashton of Erie and Erie High School (high school golf); along with Ann Wolta Blackstone, who received the Joan Birkland Leadership Award.

For more on their accomplishments and on the SWOC honorees in general, CLICK HERE.

About the Author: Gary Baines owns and operates