Jennifer Kupcho shoots a 64, leads by six in Chevron Championship at Mission Hills
Jennifer Kupcho started fast and kept on going Saturday in Rancho Mirage at the Chevron Championship to take a six-stroke lead into the last round ever at Mission Hills in the major championship.
Kupcho shot an eight-under-par 64 on another hot and sunny afternoon in the Coachella Valley for a tournament-record 16-under 200 total — also the lowest three-round score in a women’s major.
Defending champion Patty Tavatanakit, a former UCLA standout playing alongside Kupcho in the second-to-last group, was second after a 70.
Kupcho moved into position to win for the first time on the LPGA Tour and take the last victory leap in Poppie’s Pond, three years after she passed up a spot in the event to play and win that week in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“Everything was working,” Kupcho said. “I mean, seriously, this week I think my putting is definitely the props. I have putted really well, and you got to make putts in a major championship.”
The tournament in Rancho Mirage that started in 1972 and became a major in 1983 is moving to Houston after failing to attract a sponsor willing to keep it at history-packed Mission Hills.
Kupcho birdied eight of the first 12 holes in mostly calm conditions. After an opening par, the 24-year-old former Wake Forest star from Colorado birdied the next four. She added a birdie on No. 8 and opened the back nine with three consecutive birdies.
White Abarrio’s win puts trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. in the Kentucky Derby. Secret Oath is third in Arkansas Derby and likely will run in the Kentucky Oaks.
Tavatanakit appeared to be in position to cut into the lead on the par-five 11th when she hit her 256-yard second to six feet, with Kupcho in the left green-side bunker in two. But Tavatanakit missed the eagle putt and Kupcho got up-and-down for birdie, holing a six-footer to match Tavatanakit.
Both players bogeyed the par-four 13th, and Kupcho stretched the lead to seven on the par-three 17th when she made a 10-foot birdie putt and Tavatanakit dropped a stroke. Tavatanakit got one back with a birdie on the par-five 18th.
Kupcho broke the 54-hole record of 14 under set by Pernilla Lindberg in 2018 and matched by Tavatanakit last year. Dottie Pepper set the 72-hole mark of 19-under 269 in 1999.
Jessica Korda was third at nine under after a 67.
“They’re baking out these greens, so it’s really tough and you got to keep figuring out where to land it and how much it might roll out,” Korda said. “It’s playing a pretty big factor.”
Annie Park shot a 73 to fall to seven under.
Lexi Thompson, the 2014 champion, had a 71 to match Brooke Henderson (67), Hannah Green (68), Gabriela Ruffels (71), Hyo Joo Kim (73) and Nanna Koerstz Madsen (72) at six under.
“Score-wise, obviously, I have to shoot like lights out, but honestly just overall enjoying every single step of being the last round out here,” Thompson said. “Hopefully, they can get another event out here.”
Koerstz Madsen has a playoff victory and loss in her last two starts, beating Xiyu Lin three weeks ago in Thailand to become the first Danish winner in LPGA Tour history and losing to Atthaya Thitikul last week in Carlsbad.
Second-round leader Hinako Shibuno had a 77 to drop 12 strokes back.
Top-ranked Jin Young Ko, the 2019 winner, was at even par after a 74.
The UCLA women’s basketball team faced long road trips their school funded to compete in the WNIT, while the NCAA owns and funds the men’s NIT travel.
Brandt Snedeker and Beau Hossler each shot a five-under 67 to join J.J. Spaun and Dylan Frittelli atop the leaderboard after the third round of the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
Both Spaun, who shot a 69, and Frittelli (70) bogeyed the last hole to finish with a share of the lead at 10-under 206.
Another final-hole bogey kept Scott Stallings out of the lead. He also shot a 67 and was a stroke back at nine under. Matt Kuchar’s bogey at No. 18 dropped him to eight under after an even-par round.
Second-round leader Ryan Palmer didn’t have a birdie and dropped to 21st place with a five-over 77.
PGA Tour Champions
Steven Alker shot a tournament-record 10-under 62 to take a one-stroke lead over Bob Estes after the second round of the Rapiscan Systems Classic in Biloxi, Miss.
Alker had an 11-under 133 total at Grand Bear Golf Club, the first-year venue after the previous 10 editions were played at Fallen Oak.
The 50-year-old from New Zealand won the TimberTech Championship in November for his only PGA Tour Champions victory. He broke the tournament record of 63 set by Fred Couples in 2012 and matched by Gene Sauers in 2017.
The 56-year-old Estes shot a 64. He’s winless on the 50-and-over tour. Retief Goosen (67) and Paul Broadhurst (67) were eight under. Goosen won the Hoag Classic a month ago in Newport Beach in the last Champions event.
Augusta National Women’s Amateur
The model of calm beneath her bucket hat, 16-year-old Anna Davis cruised her away around the back nine at Augusta National in Georgia without a bogey and seemingly without a care.
Only after she finished off a three-under 69 at the home of the Masters did the nerves kick in while she watched the final two groups in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
She thought her 12-foot birdie putt that slid by the cup might cost her.
And then she watched from the scoring cabin as Latanna Stone threw away a two-stroke lead with two holes to play by making double bogey from the 17th fairway and a bogey from the pine straw on the final hole, making Davis the youngest champion at the home of the Masters.
“I don’t think it’s processed yet that I’ve won here, but it’s pretty surreal,” Davis said.
And to think it was only a year ago when Davis, a left-hander from just east of San Diego, jumped into the national picture with her first AJGA title, followed by the Girl’s Junior PGA Championship at Valhalla.
Stone closed with a 72 and tied for second, one stroke behind Davis, with Louisiana State teammate Ingrid Lindblad, who bogeyed the 18th from a fairway bunker and had to settle for a 68.
Davis was the only player to finish under par at one-under 215, and the victory came with a big surprise: She is exempt into the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles in June.
“That’s insane,” she said.
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