Last year at the Masters, Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley announced that starting this year the club would invite 72 of the games best Female Amateurs to compete in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur with the Final Round to be played the Saturday before the Masters at Augusta National. The day began with four female members of the World Golf Hall of Fame: Nancy Lopez, Lorena Ochoa, Se-Ri Pak, and Annika Sorenstam four golfers with a combined 172 wins and 20 Majors on the LPGA Tour began the Final Day with the Augusta National tradition of the opening tee shots.
Only 30 of the 72 golfers who started the tournament on Wednesday at Champions Retreat two miles from Augusta National made the cut, but all 72 played a practice round on the hallowed grounds on Friday. It was clear early on that the Final Round would be a two-woman duel between Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi, Kupcho a Senior at Wake Forest from Colorado, and Fassi a Senior at Arkansas from Mexico. They shared the final pairing and were tied at six under par as they made their way to the Par Five 8th hole. Fassi laying two hit a brilliant chip shot that led to a tap in birdie, Kupcho hit a poor chip and missed a long birdie putt to give Fassi the lead. Kupcho visibly frustrated with herself had to gather her emotions before striking her tee shot on the 9th tee. The two hit average approach shots into the famous 9th hole, but neither left it short and caught the famous role off the front that we’ve seen so many times through the years. Kupcho was first to play and missed her putt, Fassi left her’s short as well and she went to the back nine with a one-shot lead.
As they made the turn to the famous back nine both missed the green and put from off the green, Kupcho three-putted for bogey and Fassi went to 11 with a two-shot lead. At 11, Fassi hit a poor tee shot but recovered well and saved an incredible Par, Kupcho matched and the two went to the World Famous 12th with Fassi two ahead. On the famous 12th, Fassi pulled 9-iron which wasn’t enough and she came up short in the front bunker, but the ball stayed out of Rae’s Creek. Kupcho knew it was time to make a run she safely found the green, the two made the famous walk over Hogan’s Bridge to the 12th Green to survey their situations. Fassi struck a poor bunker shot and left herself a long par putt, Kupcho knew she was in control of the hole and lagged the putt down and accepted her Par, but Fassi answered and made her long Par Putt.
The turning point of the round came on the world famous Par Five 13th hole, Fassi found the rough on the right side while Kupcho found the fairway and pulled a hybrid for her 2nd shot, and she hit a brilliant shot to about 12 feet from the hole. Fassi layed up just short of Rae’s Creek the safe play on the hole. Fassi played her 3rd shot to pretty much the same line as Kupcho’s ball, but her putt for birdie was too low and she settled for Par. Kupcho stepped up to her Eagle putt, which was now to tie the lead and made it dead center and the two were tied with five holes to play. Fassi regained the momentum with a birdie at 14, while Kupcho made Par. At the famous Par Five 15th, Fassi hit a poor tee shot, while Kupcho safely found the fairway once again. Kupcho first to play hit another brilliant hybrid shot to just past the green, Fassi punched out into the fairway, but played a poor 3rd shot and carried the green. Fassi played first from over the green and her putt was too firm and carried 10 feet past the flag, Kupcho had a soft touch and left herself a tap in birdie. Fassi made another long Par putt herself though and kept herself tied for the lead. Two women tied for the lead with three holes to play at Augusta National.
At the famous Par Three with the ridge dividing the green, Kupcho was first to play found the ridge and the ball carried down to four feet from the hole. Fassi played 2nd made the one mistake you can’t make on that legendary Par Three leave the ball on the wrong tear of the green. She had to play the putt with her back to the hole she rolled it down to about eight feet from the hole. Kupcho first to play her birdie putt from four feet made it dead center and she was one ahead, then Fassi visibly going too fast missed her par putt and Kupcho had a two-shot lead with two to play. Kupcho walked to the 18th tee with the famous shute through the trees knowing all she needed was a Par and Fassi had virtually no chance. Kupcho found the fairway, while Fassi found the Sandy Lyle bunker from the tee. Kupcho safely found the green about 30 feet from the flag and the tournament was as good as over, she got the most famous walk in golf. To the 18th Green at Augusta stress-free, the crowd cheering you on. Fassi came up well short from the bunker, and for good measure stayed back to let Kupcho enjoy the moment. Fassi made bogey, and for good measure, Kupcho made one last birdie to win by three becoming the first winner of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. And inspiring everyone around the world for years to come.
Chairman Ridley presented Kupcho wit the trophy in the famed Butler Cabin just like the Masters. Sarazen, Nelson, Hogan, Palmer, Player, Nicklaus, Watson, Faldo, Crenshaw, Mickelson, Woods, Kupcho another name in Augusta lore.