It’s easy to get distracted by the grandeur that is Augusta National Golf Club (ANGC). It’s easy to get caught up in what it means for females to play on this famous course. But at the end of the day, it was simply great golf played by great women. They put on a show, and the crowd and the TV audience loved every minute. According to Nielson, it was the highest watched amateur event for men or women since the 2003 Amateur at Oakmont. Not bad, girls.
Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi battled to the end. Kupcho, the 21-year-old Wake Forest student, made history by winning the first championship for women held at Augusta.
Every good story needs an equally interesting backstory, and our champion gave us that. Kupcho suffers migraines. She went from playing in front of a hand full of friends and family to performing in front of 20,000 people while being televised and live streamed around the world on NBC and GolfChannel.com. I’m no medical professional, but I’m guessing that could have been a trigger. While on the 8th hole, she got a headache so severe that it caused problems with her vision. Like all migraine sufferers, she knew the pattern. She knew the blurriness would go away, but she had to keep playing. She had to rely on her caddie to get her through until her vision was back to normal. Normally, her father is her caddie, but for this tournament, she used a long-time local one, Brian McKinley. She told him to read the putts for her. She told him to tell her where to hit it, and she would do her best to get it there. Male or female, amateur or pro, that is impressive. That is what competitors do. No whining. No excuses. No time outs. Certainly, no quitting. She was at the ANGC, and she was not giving up. She says she could see again by the 11th hole but for 8, 9, 10, and 11, she solely relied on her caddie.
At the 13th hole, I watched her hit an amazing shot to the green to set herself up for a 6-foot Eagle and tie for the lead. Hers was the only Eagle of the day. History in the making.
We love it when our hero is also an everyman. Kupcho was that for us on April 6. Everyone can relate to her migraine incident. You have a dream, and you’re close to achieving your dream, and the universe throws you a curve ball. At that point, you have a choice. Give up or push on. Jennifer Kupcho decided to play on. She played herself right into the history books.
Yes, April 6 was a big day. Women played in a championship on a course previously reserved only for men. Thousands of people came out to watch and support them. They ate pimento cheese sandwiches and stacked their souvenir cups. They took in grounds that make mother nature proud of her creations. Fans watched on television and cheered from their sofas and bar stools. Yes, the women made history at the Augusta National Golf Club that weekend, and it was a beautiful thing to behold. For everyone involved, the players, the patrons, the fans watching on TV, it was an experience like no other.
(Tammy Davis is a Lee County native, Columbia resident, and a contributing columnist to the Chronicle-Independent, Camden, S.C., and Lee County Observer, Bishopville, S.C. Her new book is “Chin-Up Buttercup -- A Collection of Essays and Devotions on the Power of Faith, Perseverance and a Positive Attitude.” Visit her website at www.tammydavisstories.com. Email her, including for an autographed copy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)