Jennifer Kupcho T-1 to open Meijer LPGA Classic title defense
BELMONT, Mich. — Defending champion Jennifer Kupcho birdied the par-5 18th for a 6-under 66 and a share of the first-round lead Thursday in the Meijer LPGA Classic.
Kupcho birdied four of the five par-5 holes in a bogey-free round at Blythefield Country Club. She was tied with Ayaka Furue, Frida Kinhult, Lindsey Weaver-Wright and Cheyenne Knight.
“I think it kind of sets up really well for my game,” Kupcho said. “Five par 5s, I like par 5s at all golf courses, so certainly helps. I think I just feel really comfortable in general. Played pretty well here even aside from the wind.”
Kupcho is making her second title defense of the year, but the first came in the relocated major Chevron Championship on a new course Texas.
“It’s definitely a lot different defending this versus Chevron,” Kupcho said. “Just knowing the golf course, knowing where most of the pin placements are going to be, it’s just a whole level of comfort.”
Knight also had a bogey-free round.
“This course you can make a lot of birdies if you position yourself well off the tee, especially.” Knight said. “So, I played pretty solid today. Didn’t make a ton of mistakes and, when I did, I was able to recover.”
Ally Ewing was a stroke back at 67 with Amy Yang, Emily Kristine Pedersen, Alison Lee and Eun-Hee Ji.
“If you hit solid golf shots here you can make some birdies,” Ewing said. “So, I just stuck with a good game plan and tried to give myself a lot of looks and was able to convert some longer putts early on.”
Ashleigh Buhai, the ShopRite LPGA Classic winner last week in New Jersey, and Minjee Lee topped the group at 68.
Brooke Henderson, the Canadian who won the event in 2017 and 2019, opened with a 69. Lexi Thompson, the 2015 winner, also shot 69.
The major KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is next week at Baltusrol in New Jersey.