Jennifer Kupcho won the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur on Saturday, closing the 54-hole stroke-play event with a 5-under 67 at Augusta National Golf Club to win on 10-under 206.
However, nearly midway through the round, it seemed like Kupcho was losing her hold on the tournament. She had dropped shots and lost the lead. It almost seemed like the pressure of the moment was getting to her. And maybe it was a little, but the bigger issue the Wake Forest product faced was a nasty migraine that caused her blurred vision for several holes in the middle of the round.
“Actually, I don’t know if it was said on TV or not, but I actually got a migraine on the eighth green," Kupcho said after her round, which she closed with a second-nine 31 to storm to a three-shot win. "I just couldn’t see. It was blurry. I told my caddie, ‘Look, I’m just looking for you to read the putts. Just tell me where to hit it and I’ll do my best to hit it there.’"
Kupcho acknowledged a history with migraines, though she didn't say how often she has suffered them in competition. She just tried to grind through the pain until it relented, which she knew would eventually happen.
"Amazingly enough, I knew it was going to — I’ve gotten these migraines before so I knew the blurriness was going to go away and I would just have a headache," she said. "So on that 11th tee is where it kind of started to go away and I was able to finally see. And kind of from there, that’s where it all started. I knew that I was going to be able to do it. I was just trying to get myself under control and get through the holes where I couldn’t see anything."
After getting her eyesight back on No. 11 tee, she made a pair of pars before making a remarkable eagle 3 on No. 13. She then made birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to effectively lock up the title. With a 25-foot putt on the final green, Kupcho closed in style to win the first edition of this event.
Despite the pain, Kupcho and final-group playing partner Maria Fassi made sure they were showing off their skills and having a visibly good time while doing it. That was by design. The competitors and friends wanted to showcase something a little different.
"Coming out of it with Maria in the final group with me, I think both of us kind of just wanted to send the message that golf is about having friends, and to be out there with her, we were cheering each other on, and that’s kind of how golf is supposed to be," Kupcho said.
"And to make it look fun; it is fun. So to make it look that way for everyone watching, I hope it encourages people to pick up a club and go play."