Photo: Wake Forest head coach Diane Dailey, Jennifer Kupcho and assistant coach Ryan Potter.
STILLWATER, Oklahoma – Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho became the school’s first individual national champion in women’s golf, claiming medalist honors following the fourth round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships. The championships are being hosted by Oklahoma State University at Karsten Creek Golf Club, a par 72, 6,328-yard course.
After matching the single-round record for the course in her first round, Kupcho went on to shoot 1-under par 71 in her final round and posted a tournament score of 65-74-70-71 – 280. She became the first player to win an individual title the year after a runner-up finish since Susan Slaughter in 1989-90.
“I think [last year] kind of came up when I had the rough patch on the front nine, and then definitely on the 17th tee shot, just because it’s the same hole, and it was kind of a narrow tee shot all week,” Kupcho said. “Those are the two holes that it came up.”
She entered the round sharing a lead with Alabama’s Cheyenne Knight and all but sealed her victory on the 16th hole where she drained a long putt to birdie. It was her fifth of six on the day.
“It means a lot to me to have my teammates here supporting me and cheering me on all day … and my parents, on their anniversary to win it for them is really exciting,” Kupcho said. “To bring it back to Wake Forest for coach Dianne Dailey … She’s been here so long, and it’s great to get the first individual win on the women’s side.”
Kupcho finished two strokes ahead of Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan and Andrea Lee of Stanford (282). Lee moved up 11 spots in the final day of play and shot 7-under par 65 to match the course single-round record. It was her best performance of the tournament.
Following a playoff, Arizona defeated Baylor to claim the final spot in match play. Yu-Sang Hou carded a birdie on the last hole to lock in the victory for the Wildcats. They will face top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals.
“We’re excited,” said UCLA head coach Carrie Forsyth. “This is what we’ve been waiting for all year. We’re excited to get the chance to play in the match play portion. It should be a lot of fun. We’re looking forward to it.”
UCLA and Alabama led the field through four rounds, shooting 9-over par 1161, followed by the University of Southern California. Southern California and Stanford are the only two teams to advance to match play each year since the stroke and match play format was implemented for the NCAA Tournament in 2015.
Third-seeded Southern California will match up with No. 6 Duke in the quarterfinals. No. 4 Northwestern and No. 7 Kent State moved on to match play for the second consecutive year and match up with No. 5 Stanford and No. 2 Alabama, respectively.
Golf Channel Pregame coverage begins at 9:30 a.m. CT, followed by match play quarterfinals coverage at 10:30 a.m. Golf Channel Pregame will return at 3:00 p.m., looking ahead to the semifinals of match play, with live coverage of the semifinals beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Oklahoma State’s Emma Broze capped off her storied career fittingly with a birdie on the 18th hole and scored 1-under par 71 to finish placed for 12th in the final tournament of her collegiate career.
Broze’s four round score of 73-74-70-71 – 288 ranks as the third-best score by a Cowgirl ever at the NCAA Championship.
“I just went out and played my golf,” Broze said. “I just enjoyed the moment even though I missed some early birdie putts. That was kind of tough, but after that I just thought ‘It’s my last round just go play and enjoy it.”
In Broze’s four years at OSU she has earned three All-Big 12 Conference selections, placed three times within the top-25 at NCAA Regionals, recorded ten career top-10 finishes and finished with a 73.85 career stroke average, which ranks seventh all-time in Cowgirl history.
Broze played her best golf in the 2017-18 season. She earned her third All-Big 12 Conference selection, logged her career best stroke average at 73.93 and placed 12th or better in every event this spring.
Oklahoma junior Julienne Soo closed her time at the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships with an even-par 72 on Monday. Soo carded five birdies on the final day of stroke play to finish the four-round tournament in a tie for 19th place with a 291.
“Making the last round is always such an honor,” said Soo. “Karsten Creek is such a good course to play at so one extra round always helps a little bit more…These are the best golfers in college and many of them are going to go on to play in the LPGA and do great things with golf, so it was really cool to be a part of that and see where I stand right now and hopefully where I’ll be heading next season in my senior year.”
Hailing from South Yarra, Australia, Soo had opened her time at the NCAA Championships with a 76 (+4) on Friday but shot par-or-better in her three remaining rounds. Her finish was the second highest of the 16 Big 12 golfers in the field, coming behind only Emma Broze of Oklahoma State, who was playing on her home course.
Soo is the third Sooner to secure a top-20 finish in the individual standings at the NCAA Championships during head coach Veronique Drouin-Luttrell’s tenure, joining Alexandra Kaui (2014) and Chirapat Jao-Javanil (2013 and 2012).
With her score at the NCAA Championships, Soo finishes her season with a stroke average of 72.27 – tied with Jao-Javanil’s 2012-13 campaign (both golfers took exactly 2,457 shots in 34 rounds).
Follow team and individual results at: http://results.golfstat.com//public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=participants&tid=13662