FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Mike Kupcho still can’t get over the magnitude of his daughter’s historic victory at Augusta National. The mountain of letters and pin flags that showed up at Wake Forest over the past month are now starting to pack the family’s mailbox back home in Westminster, Colo.
“Honest to God someone bought a flag and got Tiger to sign it and then sent it to Wake to get her to sign it,” Mike said. “Are you kidding me? That’s what it’s been like.”
Kupcho’s fairy-tale amateur run came to an end at the Blessings, where Wake Forest lost to ACC rival Duke in a tightly-contested final match of the NCAA Championship. Kupcho failed to earn a critical point and looked shell-shocked when it was over.
The 2018 NCAA champion and No. 1 amateur in the world broke down in tears when asked what this Wake Forest team, her extended family, meant to her.
“They’re amazing,” she said. “It’s hard. They’re all so great and we’re a big family and I’ll know I’ll miss them, and they’ll miss me. There’s just nothing else you can say to that.”
The heartbreak in Fayetteville, Ark., does nothing to diminish what Kupcho has done for Wake Forest, deferring LPGA status for six months to come back and lead the Demon Deacons to a conference title and NCAA match-play berth for the first time in school history.
“I hope she’ll leave realizing she put us here,” said Wake Forest coach Kim Lewellen. “We won the ACC Championship; we’re in the finals. We didn’t win but darn we were close. Now go out and help women’s golf.”
Kupcho won’t have much time to dwell on what happened here in Arkansas. Next week she’ll make her professional debut at the U.S. Women’s Open.
With a strong priority ranking on the LPGA, she’ll also get into the ShopRite LPGA Classic the following week. It’ll be a whirlwind start for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion, who will have her father, Mike, on the bag her rookie year.
“I’ve got a quick turnaround,” said Kupcho, “and we’ll see what happens.”
When the Kupchos sent their daughter to Wake Forest as a freshman, they weren’t even sure she’d make the lineup. They couldn’t have envisioned that she’d leave the most decorated player in Wake Forest history. And, after the ANWA, one of the most recognizable.
“It gave you a real eye-opener to what it would be like if you won something really big on the LPGA,” said Mike of the mayhem that followed Augusta.
The Wake Forest men’s team thought they’d come out to walk a few holes at the Blessings on Wednesday and found it impossible to leave. They were completely invested in a championship match that was heavy on drama.
The first time Wake Forest men’s coach Jerry Haas saw Kupcho from across the fairway at the Old Town Club in Winston-Salem, he immediately called over the women’s assistant coach to ask – Who’s that?
Now we all know.
“Not many people have a chance in life,” said Haas. “But she’s got a big chance.”