Special to Gatorsports.com
AUGUSTA, Ga. — UF golfers Sierra Brooks and Marta Perez took care of the preliminaries in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and now have a shot at a title that never seemed likely: A chance to become the first woman to win at the home of the Masters.
Senior Jennifer Kupcho, the NCAA champion from Wake Forest, battled her swing down the stretch on a blustery Thursday at Champions Retreat and held on for a 1-under 71, giving her a one-shot lead over Maria Fassi of Mexico, who had a 70.
Brooks shot a 71 and a 72 in the first two rounds to tie for third. Perez tied for 11th at 1-over. She finished with 70 in her first round and made history early on, draining the tournament’s first eagle. Perez then followed up with a 75 in her second round, a minor setback.
The final round is Saturday at Augusta National, the first time women have competed on one of the most famous golf courses in the world.
The 72-player field was cut to 30 players for the final round, and Kwon flubbed two chips for double bogey on the 16th hole to seemingly lose her chance. But she saved par from a bunker on the 17th with a 10-foot putt, saw a leaderboard and knew only an eagle would suffice on the par-5 closing hole.
Augusta National announced its Women’s Amateur last year at the Masters, creating an opportunity for some of the best amateurs in the world to showcase their skills on a course where Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have created so many big moments.
Women have played Augusta National for years, though it was not until 2012 that the club had its first female members. Kupcho is among several players in the field who have played as guests, usually with their college teams.
Friday was a practice round at Augusta National, even for the 42 players who missed the cut.
Saturday figures to be a new experience, on the fairways and greens of Augusta National on the weekend before the Masters, with thousands of fans able to see the course for the first time all year through separate tickets they were able to buy through a lottery.
NBC Sports is televising the final round.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Gymnastics: At Corvalis, Oregon, the Gators were competing in the second session of the second round of the NCAA Regional late Friday night with Oregon State, Stanford and Iowa. Denver and Boise State advanced from the first session and will compete with the top two teams from the second session Saturday at 10 p.m. ET in the third day of the four-team regional final. The top two teams from the regional advance to the NCAA Championships, set for April 19-20 in Fort Worth, Texas. Check Gatorsports.com for final results.
Men’s tennis: At Tuscaloosa, No. 2 Florida improved to 10-0 in SEC play with its 12 consecutive win, a 7-0 decision over Alabama (13-9, 3-7 SEC). Florida jumped to a 1-0 lead thanks to doubles wins from Oliver Crawford-Alfredo Perez and Sam Riffice-Duarte Vale. The singles wins came from Johannes Ingildsen, Andy Andrade, Vale, Perez, Crawford and Riffice.
UF (18-2 overall) heads for Auburn for Sunday’s contest with the Tigers scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.
Women’s tennis: At Ring Tennis Complex, Alabama (16-9, 4-6 SEC) defeated Florida 4-1. Tsveta Dimitrova got the Gators (9-9, 6-5) on the board with a win from court four. Florida returns to action Sunday when it hosts Auburn at 1 p.m.
Lacrosse: No. 17 Florida (6-6, 1-0 AAC) continues its conference slate when it faces off against Vanderbilt (9-2, 1-0) at 12 p.m. Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.