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Girls golf: Jefferson Academy’s Kupcho stars at Colorado Women’s Open

It’s hard enough trying to win a big-time golf tournament like the HealthOne Colorado Women’s Open, but Jennifer Kupcho was attempting it while doing some double duty this week.

For instance, after struggling to a 6-over-par 78 on Thursday at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, Kupcho had to rush back to Jefferson Academy to give a presentation in her high school Statistics class.

Perhaps her next presentation in that class can include some of her stats from the Women’s Open after she finished tied for second Friday in a field that included mostly professionals, including many touring pros.

The 17-year-old from Westminster bounced back from her second-round 78 to shoot a 1-under-par 71 and contend for the overall title on Friday. After she posted rounds of 66-78-71 for a 1-under-par 215 total, the only player who finished better was winner Kendall Dye of Phoenix, who closed with a 66 to come in at 213 and win the $11,000 first prize. Dye has a good chance of being on the LPGA Tour in 2015.

As an amateur, of course, Kupcho can’t accept prize money, but the two professionals she shared second place with earned $5,450 each.

“It’s really exciting to finish that high up in a pro tournament,” said Kupcho, a senior who will sign with Wake Forest this fall. “I hadn’t contended in a pro tournament before, so this was really neat.”

Here’s some of what Kupcho accomplished at the Women’s Open:

• She claimed low-amateur honors by a whopping 12 strokes.

• In doing so, she set an “all in the family” record of sorts. Two years ago, her brother Steven earned low-am honors at the HealthOne Colorado Open after leading outright after 36 holes.

• She tied Dye for the low round of this year’s tournament, with her 6-under 66 on Wednesday. That 66 was Kupcho’s lowest round ever.

• At 1-under 215, Kupcho matched the low 54-hole total ever by an amateur in the 10 years the tournament has been played exclusively at Green Valley Ranch.

• The second-place showing overall was the best by an amateur at the Women’s Open since Becca Huffer was runner-up in 2008. (Paige Mackenzie is the lone amateur to win the overall title, in 2006.)

The performance caps a stellar spring/summer season during which Kupcho has won three significant amateur titles, in addition to what she did this week.

“To win low am means a lot,” Kupcho said. “And to go from winning (the 4A state high school title) to the CWGA Junior Stroke Play to the CWGA Match Play, then low am here, it’s really amazing (to do that) all in one year.”

On Friday, Kupcho made three birdies and overcame her second double bogey of the week on the par-4 10th hole. She got within a stroke of the lead at one point, but Dye’s 66 proved too tough to catch.

It was Kupcho’s third year playing in the Colorado Women’s Open, but the first time she’s made the cut.

“It was a really good week,” she said. “Some good golf and some bad chipping (on Thursday), but other than that I played really good.”

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