Jennifer Kupcho couldn’t believe her first seven holes at the Volunteers of America Classic. The 23-year-old had carded four bogeys by the time she walked to the tee at No. 17 on her front nine. But Kupcho rebounded the rest of the first round, recording six birdies in her last 11 holes to sit -2 in a tie for second, one stroke off of leader Charley Hull.
“Honestly, I was really upset coming off my front nine just because I grew up in this weather, so coming onto the range I was really excited to get to go play,” said Kupcho, a Westminster, Colo. native. “I think that's kind of what made me come back on the front nine, just because I was used to this weather and I knew I could do it. So I'm glad I was able to turn it around.”
Despite being used to the type of weather she played through Thursday at the Old American Golf Club, Kupcho joked with her caddie that she would rather be playing in 112-degree Palm Springs weather, drawing on her experience from this past September’s ANA Inspiration. Kupcho said for Friday, playing her own game and taking it one shot on a time will be crucial to ride off her first-round momentum.
“It's hard because you go out there and you never know what could happen over the next three days. We have a lot of golf left,” said Kupcho. “So just go out there and keep playing, always something to improve on mentally. So just excited to get back out there tomorrow.”
VOA ALWAYS SPECIAL IN LANG’S HEART
2016 U.S. Women’s Open champion Brittany Lang thinks fondly of her experiences playing in the Volunteers of American Classic. In 2019, the event was the last tournament the McKinney, Texas resident played while still pregnant with daughter Shay, and was also the end of a meaningful partnership Lang had cherished her entire career.
“My brother, who caddied for me for 14 years, this was the last time he ever caddied for me because he got a job. He wanted to be home with his daughter. So that has a soft spot in my heart. I always think, coming up 18, that was the last time, you know ‑‑ it chokes me up ‑‑ that he ever caddied for me,” said Lang. “We played last October and it was like 100 degrees and I was six months pregnant, and then we come out today and it's 32. I'm like, this is Texas. We've had wind delays, rain delays, it was a million, now it's 32. Welcome to Texas, this is what you get. But this place is always special. It will always hold a special spot in my heart especially since it's the last time that Luke caddied for me.”
Lang finished in a tie for 16th at the Old American Golf Club last year and came out strong this Thursday as one of only nine players under par after the first round at -1 and in a tie for fifth heading into day two. Lang, who is staying at home this week, said she covered herself in heat packs and layers of clothing to get through the cooler conditions that The Colony, Texas had to offer.
“[The officials] set the course up well for the weather giving us chances, which I applaud them because it's not that easy to do. But it's tough. It's tough when you miss greens. I wasn't trying to play conservative, but it's hard to be overly aggressive on some of these putts when you know pars are good. So I'm very pleased with one under,” said Lang, who carded two birdies and one bogey on the day. “I feel like it's going to be 57, sunny, with 5 to 10 [mph winds] is what I read, which is like a million times better than today. So I'm excited for the sun. I played with Kristen Gillman. We kept saying it's going to be sunny and warmer tomorrow. But I am ecstatic to play under par, get out of here.”