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To quote the great Andy Williams, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The past two days have been filled with activities at Augusta National, and Masters week is officially upon us. Jennifer Kupcho has already won the first event of the week, and Corey Conners has taken the last spot in the Masters field. Let’s get it.
Big Show Kupcho
The first edition of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur concluded in dramatic fashion on Saturday. Wake Forest senior Jennifer Kupcho and Arkansas senior Maria Fassi separated themselves from the pack during the third round as they battled for medalist honors. The pair went back and forth before Kupcho ran away at the end. The No. 1 female amateur made an eagle and three birdies over her last six holes to emerge with a four-shot victory. Augusta National Women’s Amateur Leaderboard
Jennifer Kupcho’s past 12 months have been phenomenal. She won the 2018 NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek and has four top 10s this season. She won both of her last two events at school, shooting no worse than 69 over those six rounds.
Maria Fassi has serious game—potential-superstar game. Her buoyant personality will make her an instant fan favorite, and her game looks strong enough to win on the LPGA.
The second-best round of the day belonged to 17-year-old Yuka Saso. Hailing from the Philippines, Saso made six birdies on her way to a final-round 69. Yuka finished T-2 at the Asia Pacific Women’s Amateur last winter and has a bright future ahead.
After a second-round 75, 16-year-old Zoe Campos fired a round of 72 to tie for fifth place. The future UCLA Bruin held the first round lead but her second round stumble kept her out of contention
Beth Ann Nichols captured the magic of the ANWA for Golfweek. Read her full piece.
Last Man In
The only way for Corey Conners to get into the Masters field was to win the Valero Texas Open. That seemed next to impossible last Monday when the Canadian teed it up in the Monday qualifier. But he won a six-for-one playoff to get into the field and proceeded to play the best golf of his life. Back-to-back 66s on the weekend gave him the victory and a ticket to Augusta National. Valero Texas Open Leaderboard
Corey Conners became just the second Monday qualifier to win on the PGA Tour in the last 30 years. He started the year with conditional status but already has three top-three finishes in 13 events. The win gets him his card for the next two seasons.
Conners has made just five cuts this season but has now made over $2.2 million. He is currently 13th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Charley Hoffman finished runner-up, his first top-10 finish of the season. His strong play comes just in time, as he is due to be in contention at Augusta on Thursday. He has been in the top five after the first round of three of the last four Masters.
Si Woo Kim started the day with the lead but a final-round 72 saw him fall to a T-4 finish. The 2017 Players champion has two top-five finishes in his last five starts.
Ryan Moore and Kevin Streelman both shot 64 on Sunday to vault into the top 10. The pair combined for 15 birdies and an eagle in the final round.
Jordan Spieth started the event with two 68s, but 73-72 on the weekend saw him fall into a tie for 30th. The Augusta National stud still does not have a finish better than T-30 in a stroke-play event this year. To be continued…
Jin Young Ko outlasted Mi Hyang Lee and Lexi Thompson to win the first women’s major of the season. Ko is in the midst of her best season on the LPGA Tour. She now has FIVE top-three finishes this year, including two victories. Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and Danielle Kang all finished inside the top 10 at the ANA. ANA Inspiration Leaderboard
It’s that time of the year, and we have a big week in store for the Masters. To kick things off, we have an article from Joe Peta breaking down the nine players who have performed the best at Augusta through the years. Read here
Andy dove into an Augusta-area gem, the Aiken Golf Club. Read about Aiken’s unique history and design here.
Corey Conners has had a few close calls on the PGA Tour, and this win means a lot for his career. The reaction from his wife Malory says it all.
Arie Irawan, a Malaysian professional golfer, passed away on Sunday. Irawan was in the middle of competing in a PGA Tour China event when he died of natural causes. Full Story
The ANWA has some details to iron out to achieve its full potential. Still, it was a step in the right direction and signals bigger things to come. Eamon Lynch digs into the symbolism of the event in his article for Golfweek.
The Latest Podcasts and Articles
Shotgun Start: ANA recap, ANWA appreciation, and Canada’s new Masters hope
Greetings from Augusta! After 95 episodes, Brendan and Andy meet again to record their first ever in-person Shotgun Start. They begin with a review of the season’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration. Then they get to the final round of the ANWA, appreciating what we got to watch over the weekend from the women at Augusta. Corey Conners’ big win in Texas is hailed after a season of banging the drum for improved status for our fine Canadian friend. We get into the machinations of how a guy with such lofty FedExCup status needed to Monday qualify to win. The Jordan Mixed Open, of course, is not lost in the shuffle as we examine that fascinating experiment. After a thorough review of the weekend, we begin our look forward with a few things we’re looking for early in the week at Augusta National. Finally, we wrap with a bucket of Masters facts, including the one about the time an amateur had a guest up to the crow’s nest. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify