Kupcho triumphed by two shots from Jessica Korda (69) in The Chevron Championship at Mission Hills, despite faltering late in a final round of two-over 74, claiming a major title with her first LPGA Tour victory.
“I’m still shaking. But it was just so fun to be out there, especially with Patty (Tavatanakit). It’s a lot of hard work,” Kupcho said. “I have been so close a couple of times. It’s just really hard sometimes. Here I am. It’s really exciting.”
The tournament, that started in 1972 as the Colgate-Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle and became a major in 1983, is moving to Houston next year after failing to attract a sponsor willing to keep it at the popular venue.
Kupcho takes the leap into Poppie’s Pond with her caddie and husband. PHOTO: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images.
The winner and their caddie traditionally leap into Poppie’s Pond, beside the 18th green, and Kupcho got to take that splash for the last time.
Australia’s contingent performed strongly with Hannah Green tied for eighth at eight-under after a 70, Minjee Lee outright 12th following a 69 and youngster Gabriela Ruffels tied 25th despite a 74.
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Six strokes ahead entering the round, 24-year-old Kupcho battled through a tough final day to win at 14-under.
She had shot 64 on Saturday to break the tournament 54-hole record at 16-under. But she missed the chance to break the 72-hole mark of 19-under set by Dottie Pepper in 1999.
Seven strokes ahead of Korda and defending champion Patty Tavatanakit at 18-under after holing birdie putts over 30 feet on the par-4 4th and par-3 5th, Kupcho played the final 13 holes in four-over.
RIGHT: Hannah Green was the best of the Aussie contingent, the West Australian finishing in a share of eighth. PHOTO: Harry How/Getty Images.
Korda was only two strokes back after Kupcho bogeyed 13 and 14, but fell three behind with a bogey of her own on 15 and parred the last three.
Kupcho pushed the advantage to four with a three-foot birdie putt on the 15th, and Korda missed a 12-foot birdie try soon after on 16. Kupcho bogeyed the final two holes, three-putting the par-5 18th.
Pia Babnik of Slovenia closed with a 66 to finish third at 11-under.
Tavatanakit, playing alongside Kupcho the last two days, birdied the 18th for a 72 to tie for fourth at 10-under with 2014 winner Lexi Thompson (68), second-round leader Hinako Shibuno (66) and Celine Boutier (67).
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