Razorback senior Maria Fassi in contention at Augusta National Women's Amateur

Olivia Mehaffey: Royal County Down golfer qualifies in top 30 for Augusta National

Kupcho heads to Augusta National with 1-shot lead | Miami Herald

"Since I had the invitation in my hands, I've been so excited for this day", she said.

The 72-player field began the week at Champions Retreat for the first two rounds.

Kupcho made a decision to use an Augusta National caddie instead of her father for the final round, the same caddie she had when she played with the Wake Forest team as guests.

There is little known reason why the club finally opened membership to women 10 years later. The club announced the tournament previous year to promote women's golf and serve as an appetizer for its biggest event, The Masters, next week.

"I think it'll be a lot of fun" said Jennifer Kupcho.

It featured all the heritage of Augusta National, including honorary tee shots by Nancy Lopez, Lorena Ochoa, Se Ri Pak and Annika Sorenstam.

No matter how she performs, the experience of playing a course as tricky and as lovely as Augusta will be an unforgettable one for Mehaffey, who will keep her fingers crossed that the fairways have saved some magic for her as well.

It's an important day for Kupcho and for women's golf, but this momentous first at Augusta National Golf Club could have taken place at any time before now.

The women had the golf course from 8 a.m.to 1:30 p.m.

The golf was superb, at least at the top of the leaderboard. The Wake Forest University senior led after 36 holes on 5-under par 139 with Mexico's Maria Fassi, a University of Arkansas senior, one stroke behind. Both sent a message of their own long before the tournament by earning LPGA Tour cards past year and deferring until after they finished college.

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When dreams become a reality.

"What I'm hoping for, is that by showing these women in an iconic setting to show their skills and the elite athletes that they are, it is going to be very inspiring to them as they leave to go back to their schools and homes and their countries, " said Fred Ridley, Augusta National chairman. "I knew I was going to be able to do it".

England's Alice Hewson carded a level-par 72 to finish in joint-10th place with American Sierra Brooks (76), while her fellow Curtis Cup star Olivia Mehaffey of Northern Ireland finished back in joint-23rd after a 76.

The blurred vision passed on the 11th hole, and from there Kupcho strung together the most clutch stretch of her ascendant career.

"Yeah I think it'll be cool to see how it plays for us versus to how it plays for the Masters". Instead, it came out with a sharp draw, with enough distance to roll by the pin just over the back, setting up a birdie.

"It's just unbelievable. It's just great to be able to do that", Kupcho said.

She finished tied for 10th and birdied five times in the final round. Fassi hugged her opponent when Kupcho knocked her tee shot on No. 6 to within kick-in range.

"It's unbelievable what we were able to have out here today", Fassi said. Of course the ending wasn't what I would have liked, but it was still incredible. I did all I could. "It was unbelievable to be able to compete here at Augusta for the first time". So proud of you Jennifer!

The seesaw battle escalated with Fassi dropping a birdie at 14 and Kupcho again answering at 15.

After bogeying the first hole, Fassi had four birdies on the front nine. "We're definitely great friends and it was a great time", Kupcho said, via Golfweek.com.

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