Kupcho Takes the Prize

Three-time LPGA champion earns coveted honor.

Jennifer Kupcho poses with her Colorado Sportswoman of the Year award. Photo by Jon Rizzi

By Jon Rizzi

Golf took center stage at Sunday’s Sportswomen of Colorado Annual Awards Celebration at the Hyatt Regency in the Denver Tech Center, as Jennifer Kupcho received the 2022 Sportswoman of the Year Award.

Four other golfers also earned recognition. Three of them—State 4A and AJGA Hale Irwin champion Hadley Ashton, 2022 CGA Match Play Champion and Player of the Year Leigha Devine and 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Open champion Jill McGill—were among the 39 athletes from 23 sports honored for their 2022 accomplishments.

Honoree Hadley Ashton (right) with Keynote Speaker Tanya Haave. Photo by Jon Rizzi

For McGill, who was unable to attend, it marked the third time she’d been honored, automatically qualifying her for induction into the SWOC Hall of Fame.

Joan Birkland Leadership Award Winner Ann Wolta Blackstone with Keynote Speaker Tanya Haave. Photo by Jon Rizzi

The fourth golfer, Ann Wolta Blackstone, received the Joan Birkland Leadership Award, named for the SWOC’s late co-founder and longtime executive director. A pioneer among the state’s female golf professionals, Blackstone coached the St. Mary’s Academy girls’ team to its second consecutive 3A championship last spring. She has also established golf instruction programs at Indian Tree Golf Club and Southglenn Country Clubs, taught golf in Africa and, as a three-time breast cancer survivor, has raised more than $120,000 in support of finding a cure through golf tournaments.

But the night belonged to Kupcho. Capping off the evening, the three-time LPGA Tour winner became the third golfer in the Sportswomen of Colorado’s 49-year history to win its Sportswoman of the Year Award, following U.S. Women’s Amateur champions McGill (1993) and Cindy Hill (1974).

Jennifer Kupcho speaks at the Sportswomen of Colorado Awards March 13, 2023. Photo by Jon Rizzi

Joining the tour in 2019 after a remarkable high school and collegiate career, the Westminster native broke through last April with her first victory—a major, the Chevron Classic—and over the next three months captured both the Meijer LPGA Classic and Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational.

In her speech, the 25-year-old Westminster native—who when not competing around the world now lives with husband Jay Monahan near Superstition Mountain in Arizona—shared how resiliency had shaped her success.

She related how she recovered from a “quad” on the opening hole of the 2013 2013 U.S. Girl’s Junior Championship Qualifier to qualify for the event—and in the process made an impression on Wake Forest coach Dianne Dailey that led to her recruitment and enrollment.

She recounted how, as a sophomore, losing a two-shot lead—and the tournament—on the penultimate hole at the 2017 NCAA championships fueled her desire to win it the following year. Which she did.

RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 03: Jennifer Kupcho of the United States celebrates with The Dinah Shore Trophy after winning The Chevron Championship at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa on April 03, 2022 in Rancho Mirage, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

She didn’t mention soldiering through a migraine to become the first woman to win the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Then again, even the most casual golf fan knows that heroic tale of perseverance.

No stranger to Sportswomen of Colorado, Kupcho was thrice honored by SWOC by the time she turned 18, automatically inducting her into the organization’s Hall of Fame. She now has only four more Sportswoman of the Year awards to tie skier Mikaela Shiffrin’s record of five.

Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.

Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.