PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Jennifer Kupcho simply couldn’t do wrong Thursday at the Meijer LPGA Classic.
The 25-year-old shot a career best 63 in the opening round, good for -9 and the lead heading into the second round. Her card didn’t have a single bogey. She shot a 30 on the front nine with six birdies, including a hole out from the bunker on hole 9. She would birdie 13 and eagle hole 14, parring out the final holes.
Even after a day so memorable and spectacular, Kupcho didn’t want to expect the same results on Friday. She just wanted to go out and play golf.
“I didn’t really expect a lot coming out here today,” Kupcho said Friday. “I set a pretty low bar for myself.”
The first eight holes on Friday didn’t go nearly as smoothly for the third-year veteran in the Meijer LPGA Classic. She teed off on the back nine early in the day, playing even golf until hole 18, when she notched a birdie on the par 5 where she missed a birdie putt the day before.
While it was a strong finish and she still posed a -10 on the scorecard, defending champion Nelly Korda gave her little room to breathe. Korda birdied 10, eagled 14 and finished the first nine holes on back-to-back birdies on holes 17 and 18. It brought her tied with Kupcho heading to the back at -10.
Kupcho didn’t let that change her mindset. Instead, she continued to go out and play her game. It led to a hot start on the last nine holes of round two.
She birdied back-to-back holes on 1 and 2, following with birdies on 5 and 8. Korda meanwhile leveled out with just two birdies on her final nine holes, giving Kupcho the two stroke advantage heading into the third round.
While it wasn’t always pretty, Kupcho had another card that was bogey free and coasted to a -14 finish.
“I just kept telling myself that (Thursday) was so easy, golf really seemed like it was the best I could do yesterday,” Kupcho said. “It certainly didn’t go my way on the first eight holes, but I was able to finish with better play.
“When I made that up and down on 17, which was my eighth hole, it really boosted my confidence for the rest of the day.”
In 2021, Kupcho had her best finish in this event, tied for 10th place. This is the fourth time she has held a 18-hole lead in her career. The last time she did so, she won her first LPGA Tour and major victory at the Chevron Championship.
It has been a slow start to the season for Kupcho this season, but after an outstanding day one and solid day two, she’s put herself in the position to take the tournament at Blythefield Country Club in Belmont.
In doing so, Kupcho has learned more about herself.
“It’s given me the confidence and mindset to know that I can do it,” Kupcho said. “Obviously I won a lot in amateur golf, so I was cold for a couple of years. I think to be able to come out and win it gives me confidence to win on this level.”