LOS ANGELES (AFP, REUTERS) – Jennifer Kupcho held her nerve to clinch the first LPGA Tour Victory of her career on Sunday (April 3), winning the Chevron Championship after firing a closing two-over 74 in the California desert.
The 24-year-old from Colorado – who led by six shots after a blistering eight-under 64 in Saturday’s third round – shrugged off a wobble on the back nine to complete a deserved Victory in the opening Major of the season.
Kupcho finished on 14 under par for the tournament, two shots clear of Jessica Korda, who carded a closing 69 for a 12-under total of 276.
Slovenian Pia Babnik, just 18, finished third after a closing 66 to finish on 277. “I was really happy with my game this week. It’s been great,” she said. something that I did. Overall really happy with how it turned out. “
Japan’s Hinako Shibuno (66), France’s Celine Boutier (67), US star Lexi Thompson (68) and 2021 Champion Patty Tavatanakit (72) were tied for fourth on 278.
Kupcho celebrated her triumph with the traditional winner’s leap into “Poppie’s Pond” – the water hazard that surrounds the 18th green at Mission Hills Country Club.
The former Amateur world No. 1 – who turned professional before the 2019 season – is the last Winner of the Chevron Championship at its California home. The event, previously known as the Nabisco Dinah Shore, the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the ANA Inspiration, will move to Houston next season, after more than half a century in the desert community of Rancho Mirage.
The win confirms Kupcho as one of the brightest talents in Women’s golf, and comes only three years after she won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur title in 2019.
Kupcho – who painted her fingernails green in honor of Augusta National for Sunday’s final round – admitted she had not expected her first LPGA title would be a Major, with a first Prize of US $ 750,000 (S $ 1.01 million) out of the US $ 5 million purse .
She said on the Golf Channel broadcast that she had doubts whether her professional breakthrough would come.
“Yeah, for sure,” Kupcho said. “I’ve been so close a couple of times, so it’s just really hard sometimes, and here I am. It’s really exciting.”
She had built a formidable lead after her heroics on Saturday, which gave her ample breathing space at the top of the Leaderboard.
She looked poised to wrap up Victory at a canter after making birdies on the second, fourth and fifth holes on Sunday, despite a bogey on the third.
But her lead began to shrink after two more bogeys on the eighth and 10th holes.