Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi made themselves a lot of new fans playing together in the final pairing of the final round of the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur. Kupcho, the world's leading am out of Wake Forest University, and Fassi, out of University of Arkansas via Mexico, put on a great show of golf and camaraderie.
Now, Kupcho and Fassi will be making their pro debuts at the same time, both earning spots in the US Women's Open at the end of May in Charleston, S.C.
Both players, still amateurs through the NCAA women's golf championships in May, entered sectional qualifying for the event and managed to get through the qualifiers with ease to earn a spot at Country Club of Charleston.
The pair competed in separate qualifiers at separate sites, both winning their 36-hole tournaments.
Kupcho played at Starmount Forest Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., shooting 72-69 to earn medalist honors.
At Country Club of Ocala in Florida, Fassi won by after opening with 7-under 65 and shooting 2-over 74 in the afternoon round to still comfortably win by five shots.
For Kupcho, she was already qualified for the event by winning the Augusta National Women's Amateur. However, she entered the sectional qualifier with the hope of earning a spot the old-fashioned way, which would allow her to enter the richest tournament in women's golf as a professional. Her exemption into the Open for winning at Augusta National -- as well her other exemption winning the McCormack Medal as the top-ranked women's amateur golfer -- was predicated on her remaining an amateur. She had to give those up to compete.
Fassi was not already exempt into the tournament despite her great effort at Augusta National. Qualifying for her means debuting as a pro at the biggest stage in women's championship golf.
Starting their pro careers at the Women's Open is a big deal for both Kupcho and Fassi, as they had already earned her LPGA status through last fall's inaugural Q-Series at Pinehurst in North Carolina. Their deferrals allowed them to play through the collegiate season, but they each only have half the LPGA season to earn enough to maintain their cards and avoid Q-Series again.
Before Kupcho and Fassi turn pro, their respective schools will compete in the NCAA women's regional golf championships from May 6-8. Then Fassi, who won the SEC individual women's championship after the ANWA, will lead the host school Arkansas at the national championship at Blessings Golf Course from May 17-22.