Jennifer Kupcho Wins 2022 Meijer LPGA Classic
Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give
Blythefield Country Club |Belmont, Mich. | June 16-19, 2022
Course Setup: 36-36—72; 6,453 yards (Scoring Average: R1: 70.938; R2: 71.211; R3: 70.384; R4: 69.973)
Weather: Mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies with temperatures reaching the high 70s and winds between 5-10mph gusting up to 15mph
JENNIFER KUPCHO COMES OUT ON TOP AFTER THRILLING THREE-WAY PLAYOFF
It was a rough start for Jennifer Kupcho on Sunday at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, but the 25-year-old bounced back to notch her second career title after a playoff with defending champion Nelly Korda and Ireland’s Leona Maguire. Kupcho made an early double bogey on the third and a bogey on the sixth to drop to -14 and three back of Korda, but she rebounded quickly with an eagle on the par-5 eighth and birdie on the ninth to turn at -17 with a one-shot lead. Korda tied things up with a birdie on the 10th, and the pair carded matching birdies on the 12th to sit at -18. But Maguire wouldn’t be left out of the conversation. She made back-to-back birdies on holes 13 and 14 to move to -17 – one back of the lead at the time – and birdied the last to post the clubhouse lead at 18 under.
With the bar set, Kupcho bogeyed the 16th and Korda birdied the 18th to tie Maguire and force a three-way playoff. Things looked to be over when Kupcho hit her second shot to three feet with an 8-iron on the first playoff hole, but she lipped out her eagle putt. After a Korda three-putt, Kupcho and Maguire went back to the tee, and it ultimately took a missed shortie from Maguire to give Kupcho her second career LPGA Tour victory and the $375,000 winner’s check.
“I thought she was going to make it,” said Kupcho. “When she hit it by the hole and I still had to putt from the fringe I thought to myself, that’s not a gimme because I was just shaking and missed essentially a same-length putt. But then once I made the tap-in, I was already looking at the rules official to go to the next hole. Honestly, it was just a shock. She went to Duke, I went to Wake Forest. Playing with her so much, she doesn’t miss putts. I was really just shocked.”
The win comes just two and a half months since Kupcho became a Rolex First-Time winner at The Chevron Championship earlier this year and though getting the monkey off her back at Mission Hills was sweet, this win hits a little differently, especially coming on Father’s Day.
“I think this one is even better than the first personally,” said Kupcho. “I had such a big lead going into the final round at Chevron, so to come out of this one with top-ranked players all over the place, the leaderboard was packed, within strokes so it was very close, and I feel very proud of myself for coming out of it. I thought to myself this morning that I should call (my dad), but I kept telling myself, ‘No, like we’ll call him after the round with the trophy in our hand’ and I’m excited I can do that now.”
Although the three-putt on the first playoff hole stung, Nelly Korda is still taking plenty of positives away from her week at Blythefield Country Club. Spending time away from the game has given the Rolex Rankings No. 2 some perspective and while she would’ve loved to defend her title, she’s still really pleased with where her game is at after so few starts this season.
“I fought my way back on the back nine and snuck into the playoff,” said Korda, who earned her third top five of the season. “Unfortunately, sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t. If you told me I think three, four months ago when I was in the ER that I would be here I would be extremely happy.”
Rolex Rankings No. 4 Lydia Ko fired a 4-under 68 on Sunday to finish in solo fourth at -17, with a foursome of players in a tie for fifth at -16 under including LPGA Tour rookie Atthaya Thitikul and 2015 Meijer LPGA Classic champion Lexi Thompson. 11-time LPGA Tour winner Brooke Henderson and Wei-Ling Hsu rounded out the top 10 at 15 under.
NELLY KORDA CLAWS HER WAY INTO A PLAYOFF, MISSES OUT ON TITLE DEFENSE
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Nelly Korda had “a bit of an iffy round” on the final day of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, yet she still found herself in a three-way playoff that ultimately saw Jennifer Kupcho earn her second career LPGA Tour title. Leading by one stroke over Kupcho going into the final round, Korda made a few costly mistakes at Blythefiled Country Club that resulted in an even-par 72 on Sunday.
“On the front nine, on the par-5 on No. 4, is where I made my first bogey,” Korda said. “Then I made one on 9. You can’t really do that out here. You have to capitalize on those par 5s.”
Korda carded three bogeys and three birdies on day four but it didn’t look like she’d gone low enough heading the 18th, a hole Kupcho had birdied the past two days and that played as the easiest par 5 this week, averaging 4.284 strokes for four rounds. A birdie or better from Kupcho would have avoided a playoff altogether, but luckily for Korda, Kupcho made par. Korda then sank her birdie putt to post at -18 and join the sudden-death playoff with Kupcho and Leona Maguire.
On the first playoff hole, Korda’s tee shot gave her immediate cause for concern. “I leaked it out right, which was my miss today,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if it was behind the tree. I didn’t really know the positioning, so I was just hoping that I would have somewhat of a clear shot. I did; it wasn’t bad.”
Just clear of the tree line, Korda was able to land her second shot on the green but three-putted for par, missing out on the opportunity to defend her title. Korda has a 2-2 playoff record – her last playoff victory came in 2021 at the Pelican Women’s Championship when she took down Lydia Ko, Sei Young Kim and Lexi Thompson – and though she only has a 50% success rate so far, she enjoys the thrill of head-to-head competition.
“I enjoy (playoffs). That means you’re in contention, you got your way into the playoff, and you’re playing for a title,” she said. “It’s always good to be in a playoff. The adrenaline definitely kicks in during them and I think it’s fun and it’s why I enjoy playing competitive golf so much.”
JESSICA KORDA FINISHES T5 AT MEIJER LPGA CLASSIC
With most of the attention focused on her younger sister Nelly, 29-year-old Jessica Korda finished in a tie for fifth alongside Lexi Thompson, Carlota Ciganda, and Atthaya Thitikul at the LPGA Meijer Classic for Simply Give.
“Shot 5-under, so that was good. Definitely left some out there, which kind of stinks, but when you’re in a chasing position, you’re looking at the pin all day long. So, I’m pretty pleased with it. Obviously, putting one foot in front of the other after an injury, so it’s good,” the elder Korda sister said.
Currently No. 15 in the Rolex Rankings, Jessica got a little lost throughout the weekend, especially with Nelly, in just her second week back on Tour after a four-month layoff, making it into a playoff with Leona Maguire and eventual winner Jennifer Kupcho. But Jessica is putting better than she has in quite some time–averaging 29 putts per round at Blythefield Country Club.
“Being a longer player out here, I think it gets really narrow for us, so those are kind of the challenges we face a little bit,” Jess said. “Thinking about the golf course a bit more than somebody that might be slightly shorter and can kind of pound it with no issues. For me, I was still a little surprised about the scores being so low.”
Korda said she was also frustrated Saturday because she felt like the holes were more gettable with less wind.
“It was very inconsistent wind, so that made it really tough. I feel like they slowed the greens down. I couldn’t get the ball to the hole the first couple of holes, which is weird because my speed has been really, really good,” she said.
For more, please visit https://www.lpga.com/news/2022/jessica-korda-finishes-t5-at-meijer-lpga-classic
CME GROUP CARES CHALLENGE – SCORE 1 FOR ST JUDE UPDATE
The CME Group Cares Challenge is a season-long charitable giving program that turns aces into donations. CME Group donates $20,000 for each hole-in-one made on the LPGA Tour in 2022, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $500,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is leading the way in how the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and life-threatening diseases.
Fifteen holes-in-one have been made this season on the LPGA Tour, with the season’s donation total reaching $300,000 after Gina Kim made a hole-in-one during the second round of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. The 2021 LPGA Tour season saw 17 aces from 15 different players, while the 2019 campaign had 32 total aces from 31 different competitors for a total of $640,000. That more than covered the average cost of $425,000 needed to treat a pediatric cancer patient.
Rolex Rankings No. 16, Jennifer Kupcho (63-67-69-71)
- She hit 7 of 13 fairways and 12 of 18 greens, with 30 putts
- Her four-day total of 270 is tied for the third-lowest 72-hole score of her career; the lowest is 266 which she shot at the 2022 Honda LPGA Thailand
- Kupcho and Minjee Lee are the only players with multiple wins this season
- Kupcho’s season earnings surpassed $1 million for the first time in her career
- This is Kupcho’s third appearance in the Meijer LPGA Classic; she tied for 10th in 2021 and tied for 23rd in 2019 in her two previous starts
- Kupcho has missed two cuts in 12 starts this season; she became a Rolex First-Time winner at The Chevron Championship and has one additional top 10, a tie for sixth at the Honda LPGA Thailand
- Kupcho’s first-round 63 is her career-low round; she shot her previous career-low 64 this season at The Chevron Championship and went on to win
- Member of Team USA at the 2021 Solheim Cup
- Finished T39 at the 2011 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to first earn LPGA Tour status
- Won the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019
- Graduated from Wake Forest University in 2019 with a degree in Communications
- 2018 NCAA Division I Individual National Champion, and was the first wire-to-wire NCAA champion since 2002
- 2018 NCAA Player of the Year
- Played on the victorious 2018 U.S. Curtis Cup, Women’s World Amateur and Palmer Cup teams
SOCIAL MEDIA: #DRIVEON
Tournament: @MeijerLPGA (Twitter), @meijerlpga (Instagram); #forehunger #meijercommunity
LPGA Tour: @LPGA and @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)
TOURNAMENT SCORING RECORDS
18 holes: 61: Lee-Anne Pace, third round, 2017
36 holes:128: Brooke Henderson, 2019
54 holes:196: Lexi Thompson, 2017; Nelly Korda, 2021
72 holes: 263: Brooke Henderson, 2017; Nelly Korda, 2021