The Colorado native prepares for her second Solheim Cup but first in Europe
by Jim Bebbington
The coridal support LPGA players show for each other even in the heat of one-against-many competition is one of the things that makes their tour a unique and enjoyable sport to watch. There are typically lots of post-round hugs, win or lose.
Westminster’s Jennifer Kupcho, who is about to embark on her second stint as a member of the U.S. Solheim Cup team, said some of that cordiality pretty much goes out the window when the best women golfers sin the U.S. go up against the best from Europe.
“(There are) so many more fans than we’re used to, it’s way louder,” Kupcho said last week as she took a break from preparation for the Kroger Queen City Championship. “I’d compare it to a football game. It’s so different compared to what we’re normally used to. The tension (is high) for sure. You get way more nervous because you’re representing your country. It’s such a different feeling than just representing yourself.
“As well as really just being ready for it. We’re friends out here with the Europeans on the day-to-day level on the LPGA, but it becomes a little bit cutthroat when you get over there.”
Kupcho and her Solheim Cup teammates are scheduled to leave Friday for Spain in advance of the tournament that takes place Friday, Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 24.
Kupcho played in the 2021 Solheim Cup, winning two matches, tying one and losing one. She was one of three U.S. players to have a winning record that weekend, as the European team won the contest held at Inverness Country Club in Toledo.
This year the contest is at Finca Cortesin resort in Spain, a hilly, rolling course nestled between the Andalucian Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.
Kupcho said that she expect European crowds to heavily back their home team. The Inverness crowd was over-whelmingly pro U.S., and she expects the opposite to be the case next week. “I mean, it’s the first tee so it’s going to be nerve-wracking regardless of who is watching,” she said.
This year, under coach Stacy Lynch, the 12-player U.S. team has five rookies in addition to veterans. “I think our team has a really good team dynamic this year with a lot of girls also being around the same age as I am,” said Kupcho, who is 26. “I’ve also played with them in other U.S. events, so it’s going to be very interesting and I think it’s going to be really fun to be able to have all of us together. I think we’re all just preparing to get those five rookies ready for what they’re about to experience. It’s really hard to really put it into words until you truly experience it.”
One of the rookies this year is Rose Zhang, who won her first tournament of her career this summer by battling Kupcho head-to-head in a playoff at the Mizuho Americas Open. Kupcho said given Zhang’s performance in amateur competitions as well as her strong start as a pro shows she will be strong member of the squad.
“Rose has played on the biggest stages in amateur golf and now has played on some of the biggest ones out here,” Kupcho said. “She’s one we’re not worried about. I think she’s ready to go and ready to do it.”
Jim Bebbington is content director for Colorado AvidGolfer. Reach him at [email protected]
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