Coloradan Jennifer Kupcho posts third top-5 finish of rookie LPGA Tour season and easily qualifies for CME Group Tour Championship
By Gary Baines – 11/10/2019
Jennifer Kupcho played her own version of “When I’m Sixty-Four” during the LPGA Tour’s Asian swing, and it turned out quite nicely.
In her quest to qualify for the lucrative season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, Kupcho came into the four-tournament Asian swing in 64th place in the Race to the CME Globe points standings. The Westminster resident needed to move into the top 60 in order to advance to the tour’s season finale, set for Nov. 21-24 in Naples, Fla.
Consider it mission accomplished, with plenty of room to spare.
The 22-year-old wrapped up the Asian portion of the schedule on Sunday with a tie for fourth place in the Toto Japan Classic. It was the third top-5 showing of her rookie pro season for Kupcho, the 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion.
The Coloradan was the top American finisher in the field in Japan.
With the performance, the former top-ranked women’s amateur in the world jumped from 54th to 47th in the Race to the CME Globe standings.
The 60-person Tour Championship in which Kupcho will be competing in two weeks will feature a $5 million purse, with $1.5 million going to the winner, which makes it the largest first-place prize in the history of women’s golf.
In Japan, Kupcho had a stellar week, not making a bogey until her 54th and final hole, and chalking up 11 birdies. Her 10-under-par total of 206 left her seven strokes behind champion Ai Suzuki, who won in her home country.
Kupcho went 68-70-68, and in the final round she birdied five of her first seven holes.
In the four LPGA Tour stops in Asia over the last month, Kupcho finished 27th, 33rd, 35th and fourth. Sunday’s showing was her second-best as a pro as she was runner-up at the LPGA major at the Evian Championship in July. She also placed fifth in the Marathon Classic, also in July.
“I was hitting the ball really well (Sunday and) gave myself a lot of putts,” Kupcho said. “I even missed a couple, leaving them on the lip. I played really well this week and I’m pretty happy with it. … It’s been really cool just to see all the different countries and different cultures. It’s definitely something I would have never dreamed of. It’s pretty cool to be able to see it all.”
Sunday’s $69,332 payday gives Kupcho $502,123 for the LPGA season, which didn’t begin in her case until late May as she deferred taking tour membership until after completing her college career at Wake Forest. Despite her late start, she’s now No. 38 on the 2019 LPGA money list.
Kupcho and Colorado Sports Hall of Famer Dale Douglass will be the first recipients of the Hale Irwin Medal during a dinner at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs on Nov. 23. The medal recognizes outstanding Colorado golfers who “exhibit competitiveness, resiliency and a proven record of winning.” But since Kupcho has qualified for the CME Group Tour Championship, she won’t be able to attend the Hale Irwin Dinner in person given the conflict of dates.