Berliner Tageszeitung - Kupcho defies difficult winds to grab LPGA lead in Michigan

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Kupcho defies difficult winds to grab LPGA lead in Michigan




Kupcho defies difficult winds to grab LPGA lead in Michigan
Kupcho defies difficult winds to grab LPGA lead in Michigan / Foto: © AFP

Jennifer Kupcho fired an eagle and seven birdies in a career-best nine-under-par 63 on Thursday to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Meijer LPGA Classic in Belmont, Michigan.

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Kupcho, who made her first LPGA tour title in April a major as she won the Chevron Championship in Rancho Mirage, California, was impressive in gusty winds that pushed up the afternoon scores.

The American poured in a long eagle putt at the 14th to reach nine-under, overtaking clubhouse leader Gerina Mendoza, who had seven birdies, an eagle and one bogey in her eight-under par 64 earlier in the day.

"I think I'm a pretty good wind player," Kupcho said. "That certainly helped and I love this golf course."

She said the key for her was to not try to alter the natural trajectory of her shots to compensate for the wind.

"I don't change my game plan at all," she said. "I just aim farther whatever way or take more club or less club. I just keep playing my game."

She built momentum early, with back to back birdies at the first and second and two more birdies at the fourth and fifth -- one-putting her first five holes.

She added another pair of birdies at eight and nine -- where she holed out from a bunker to make the turn six-under.

She followed a birdie at 13 with her eagle, then steered a steady course coming in. She saved par at the 16th and 17th, then three-putted for a final par at the par-five 18th.

"I don't know what golf course Jen is playing," said defending champion Nelly Korda, whose five-under-par 67 left her in a big group tied for seventh.

Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom and Anna Nordqvist and American Lexi Thompson shared third on seven-under 65.

Sagstrom had five birdies and an eagle while Nordqvist and Thompson had seven birdies apiece. The trio were one stroke in front of American Andrea Lee who carded a 66.

Mendoza was delighted with a birdie-eagle finish, especially after seeing some putts fail to drop earlier in the round.

"It was good to get an eagle today because I hit it pretty good and on eight I had, I think, a six-footer for eagle and missed it. So it was good to finish on that note."

Sagstrom also closed with an eagle, part of a late surge that also included birdies at 14, 15 and 16.

"I wasn't hitting it super-close early," she said. "I got myself a few good opportunities, putter got a little hot. I hit a really good shot into 18 -- always nice to finish with a three."

P. Hansen--BTZ