Apr 3rd, 2022
Kupcho out front at The Chevron Championship
Stunning round leaves American six ahead of the field
Photography: Getty Images
-16 J Kupcho (US); -10 P Tavatanakit (Tha); -9 J Korda (US); -7 A Park (US); -6 H Green (Aus), B Henderson (Can), HJ Kim (Kor), N Koerstz Madsen (Den), G Ruffels (Aus), A Thompson (US)
Kupcho also trounced the 54-hole record at Mission Hills with her 200, which is also her lowest three-round score at any major championship.
“Everything was working. I mean, seriously this week I think my putting is definitely the props,” said Kupcho, who carded eight of her birdies in her first 12 holes. “I have putted really well, and you got to make putts in a major championship.”
Kupcho enters Sunday not only looking for her first major championship title, but also to become the fourth Rolex First-Time Winner of the season. She’s only co-led/led after 54 holes once in her career, at the 2021 ISPS Handa World Invitational, where she ultimately finished third.
Kupcho has come close before in a major-championship setting, most notably in 2019 at the Amundi Evian Championship, finishing in a tie for second. It is that past experience plus a focus on her own game that Kupcho will use to her benefit on the final day at Mission Hills.
“I can't control what anyone else is doing, so if I just go out and play my game, I mean, someone else can go out and do what I did today,” said Kupcho. “So really just go out and focus on hitting the fairways and greens and putting good strokes on putts.”
Six shots back of the American in solo second is defending champion Patty Tavatanakit. A comeback win tomorrow would make her only the second player in the major’s history to successfully defend the title, last achieved by Annika Sorenstam (2001, 2002), as well as the eighth player to earn at least two Chevron Championship victories.
“I like chasing. Yeah, for sure. Better feeling. You play without fear and I love doing that,” said Tavatanakit.
Jessica Korda, making her 12th appearance in the major championship, posted for a smooth five-under 67 to jump into solo third at nine-under, thanks to six birdies and one bogey on the day.
The six-time LPGA Tour winner’s best finish in any major is a tie for fourth, which she earned twice in 2018 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and Chevron Championship.
Annie Park sits in fourth at seven-under after a one-over 73. Park played in the day’s final grouping with 36-hole leader Hinako Shibuno, who fell to four-under overall after a five-over 77.
“Even though it wasn’t the results that I wanted, but it was the process that I wanted. That's exactly what I needed out there. I gave it a 100% out there,” said Park. “I had some tough breaks and that's nothing that I can control, but I had some, I executed a lot of shots that I was very happy about.”
Six players are tied for fifth at six-under, including major champions Brooke Henderson, Hannah Green, Lexi Thompson and Hyo Joo Kim. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Jin Young Ko fell to a tie for 52nd at even par after her second 74 of the week on Saturday.