Jennifer Kupcho’s Seven Birdies Friday Put her in Major Mix Again
Jennifer Kupcho kept knocking on the four-under door Friday. Starting her second round on hole No. 10 at one under par, she birdied three of her first five holes. Then she bogeyed the 15th.
Kupcho birdied the first. Then she gave it back on the second with a bogey.
Kupcho birdied the fourth. Then she gave it back on the fifth with a bogey.
.@jenniferkupcho gets it to fall. 🐦#KPMGWomensPGA pic.twitter.com/LyTqbIPxcH— KPMG Women's PGA Championship (@KPMGWomensPGA) June 24, 2022
The 2022 Chevron Championship winner broke through with back-to-back birdies to close her round at four-under par, and sits T2 at five-under alongside Lydia Ko as she aims for her second major championship of the season.
“I feel like I played pretty well,” Kupcho said, “Seemed like as soon as I got to 3-under on the day, I would give one back. It's nice to finish off strong.”
The two-time winner capitalized on the easier scoring conditions during the second round. The 25-year-old carded three birdies Thursday, more than doubling that total with the more manageable weather at Congressional over the second round.
“I think in general the front nine is harder,” Kupcho explained, “so to play in the rain and the wind yesterday, it was even more hard. It was a lot nicer today when we turned on that nine.”
She improved by a stroke on Congressional's opening side, fueled by her closing run. With the setup allowing for the par-4 8th to be driveable Friday, Kupcho got up and down for birdie. Then she executed a proper layup on the par-5 9th to set up back-to-back birdies to finish.
Even still, walking off the course at five-under par, Kupcho remains five strokes behind In Gee Chun’s world-beating lead. It’s something the Solheim Cup star aims to not focus on rolling into a late weekend tee time.
“I think just keep going out and controlling what I can control,” Kupcho said, “I always say that, and I think that's what I do. I mean, if she's going to continue to play well, that's her game, and there's really nothing anyone can do about it.”
It'll take a come-from-behind effort to catch Chun over the weekend for her second major title of 2022. It's a position Kupcho displayed recent comfort in: she came from one behind in the final round of the Meijer LPGA Classic to get into a three-way playoff with Nelly Korda and Leona Maguire, where she walked away with her second victory this season.
What a clutch playoff win in Michigan!— KPMG Women's PGA Championship (@KPMGWomensPGA) June 19, 2022
Congratulations @JenniferKupcho, we'll see you tomorrow at Congressional. #KPMGWomensPGA pic.twitter.com/dAiHzV8nYE
“I think just in general being back is a lot better,” Kupcho said, “whether it's with a lot of people or not. I think being behind and trying to catch up is better. I mean, I had the lead at Chevron by a few strokes, so I know how it feels to be in her position. Being behind is at least my preferred way.”
She'll have to make up that five-stroke gap to become the first two-time major winner in a season since Rolex Women's World Rankings No. 1 Jin Young Ko in 2019.