STILLWATER, Okla. — Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho found redemption Monday by winning an NCAA title she squandered a year ago.
Kupcho overcame a rough three-hole stretch on the front nine at Karsten Creek with five birdies over her final eight holes for a 1-under 71 and a two-shot victory over Andrea Lee of Stanford and Bianca Pagdanganan of Arizona.
Kupcho became the first Wake Forest woman to win an NCAA golf title.
She thought she had it last year at Rich Harvest Farm until she took triple-bogey on the 17th hole of the final round when her 9-iron came up just short into the water and then she three-putted for a triple-bogey, losing by one shot to Monica Vaughn of Arizona State.
Kupcho had a bogey-double-bogey-bogey stretch in the middle of the back nine Monday before she poured it on.
“My assistant coach was in my ear saying, `There is going to be mistakes down the stretch, just keep fighting, just keep fighting.’ Kind of got annoying to the point, but obviously it worked,” Kupcho said. “I came back and did it.”
Lee closed with a 65, while Pagdanganan had plenty to celebrate with her 72. Arizona was on its way to a collapse until Pagdanganan made eagle on the 18th hole to get the Wildcats into a playoff with Baylor for the eighth and final spot that advanced to match play for the team title.
Arizona wound up advancing and will face top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals Tuesday.
“I just had so much confidence in myself and it was an amazing feeling knowing it means so much for the team,” Pagdanganan said. “It has always been my dream to make it to nationals as a team and making that putt, I got goose bumps. I was speechless. I was overwhelmed with all of the overflowing emotions going on and I was just glad I could help the team.”
Alabama is the No. 2 seed and faces Kent State. USC (No. 3) faces Duke, while Northwestern (No. 4) will play Stanford.