Kupfer remains grounded

You may have seen Dan Kupfer at the Roger Dunn golf shop in Santa Ana. He would be the guy trying to match the player with a set of clubs.

If you glanced at a sports page last week you may also have spotted his name as one of the 94 players vying for one of five spots into this weekend's U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club.

The Costa Mesa resident didn't make it — he missed the cutoff score by four strokes with rounds of 73-70 at Glendale's Oakmont Country Club.

Still, Kupfer, 41, took away positives from the day.

"It's one of the first times I didn't feel a whole lot of pressure," Kupfer said by phone earlier this week.

"We enjoyed it other than the 36 holes and fatigue from walking for 11 hours," Kupfer said, the "we" referring to caddie Brett Massingham. "There's not a whole lot of golfers out there who ever get a chance to do what we were doing."

Kupfer holed out in both the morning and afternoon rounds on the 394-yard, par-four 14th hole.

On the first 18, he made birdie from 70 yards and scored eagle on the second 18 from 160 yards. He shot 31 on the back nine of the second round.

"I talked to my caddie and said, 'Where has this guy been all day,'" Kupfer said.

This was the second time Kupfer played in a U.S. Open sectional qualifier. He shot 82-76 in 2009 when Saticoy Country Club hosted the event.

He hurt his wrist last year and didn't try qualifying.

Kupfer said he had a sense of the leaders' scores and where he stood after the first round at Oakmont.

"I was always around one- or two-over and never felt like I was close enough," he said. "But I am a determined person and was going to keep going even if I shot an 82. I feel like I can birdie every hole I play. The hardest thing is trying not to think about your goal score on the course."

Kupfer set out to shoot under par.

"Two- or three-under would have been acceptable, but I'm really happy with the score I shot," said Kupfer, who started two-over through three holes. "Under par would have tasted better, but it might have stung more [being closer and still not qualifying]."


Kupfer was born and raised in Anaheim, worked at Dad Miller Golf Course and started playing at age 18. He credits his grandfather for introducing him to the game.

"I love hitting balls," said Kupfer, who is self-taught and remembers the "flush feeling" from a two-iron shot 23 years ago.

Golf has taught Kupfer life lessons, too.

"It gave me something to focus on," he said. "I didn't know how to be accountable. Honesty is one of the best things golf teaches you."

Kupfer works 45 to 50 hours a week at Roger Dunn.

He spends much of his time off on the course, specifically Costa Mesa Country Club.

His goal this year is to play more tournaments. Kupfer said he's played about two or three tournaments a year. This year, he didn't play any events until a U.S. Open local qualifier at Newport Beach Country Club, when he shot two-under 69.

Estancia High junior Jake Knapp also shot 69 at the Newport qualifier and has known Kupfer for close to 10 years. The two have played many rounds together, Knapp said.

"He helps not as a coach, but with life lessons," Knapp said. "He helped me mature at a younger age."

Kupfer recognizes he is blessed to be playing golf and, though it is a large part of his life, Kupfer places the game in the proper context.

"I go to Mesa Verde on a Tuesday and there's people at war; [golf] is small."


NBCC women's champion Isako Takada will play for the club in the 12th annual Jones Cup, club pro Paul Hahn wrote in an e-mail.


Jeff Bloom won NBCC's men's championship for the second time, but he needed a playoff to do it as play wrapped up Sunday.

Bloom (75-75-78-77 — 305) chipped in for birdie on the second playoff hole (the par-four second) to defeat Jan-Erik Palm (76-78-74-77 — 305), assistant pro Mike Johnson said.

With the win Bloom qualified for this year's Jones Cup, 1 p.m. June 28 at Big Canyon Country Club.

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