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May 28, 2019

Jennifer Kupcho

Charleston, South Carolina

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. It's my pleasure to welcome Jennifer Kupcho in the media center. Jennifer is playing in her third U.S. Women's Open. She qualified in Greensboro, winning one of two spots in sectional qualifying. You just turned professional this morning, officially. Congratulations.


THE MODERATOR: Can you describe the feeling that you have right now on the eve of your professional debut and making that debut here at the U.S. Women's Open?

JENNIFER KUPCHO: It's really exciting just to, I mean, be at another U.S. Open. I missed it last year. To get to play against the best players in the world on the biggest stage for my first event is really exciting. A little bit nerve-racking, but it will be fun.

THE MODERATOR: You had a very accomplished amateur career, the win at the Augusta Women's Amateur, playing on the Curtis Cup team, your accomplishments at the NCAAs at Wake Forest. What did you learn from what you accomplished as an amateur that you hope you can take with you to the next step in your professional life?

JENNIFER KUPCHO: Probably resilience. I mean, I just go out there, and I always tend to have something happen at the beginning of the round, and I always just somehow come back. I think that's really how my game is, just to keep fighting, no matter what, and I think that's what I've learned most.

THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up to questions.

Q. Other than showing up and saying ta-da, I'm a professional, can you walk us through the process of what you went through? Did you hire an agent? Did you sign any deals? What all has happened?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: I have not talked or anything to an agent yet, just because there was so many NCAA rules that I wasn't really allowed to talk to anyone or anything. I'm in the process of signing a couple of deals, yeah.

Q. Who helped you with those?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: My dad. It's kind of been a family thing the whole time.

Q. What was your reaction to your pairing for your first two rounds as a pro? How do you think that might help?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: There was a few rumors that Maria and I would get paired together. So to see it come out and to also get to play with Sierra Brooks, we're all good friends, and it's going to be just like we were in college. So I think it will actually really relax us and let us have a lot of fun.

Q. Was it a tough way to end your college career, such a close run? How long did it sort of take to get over it? I know you haven't had too much time. But how much did that one hurt?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: I think losing hurt, but I think also the fact that I had to say good-bye to my whole team that night is where it hit. Losing is losing. It happened my sophomore year, so I'm kind of used to the feeling, I guess I could say. So it was really just leaving my team that took the most time.

Q. Jennifer, what was the whole post Augusta-like fame thing like for you, the Tonight Show and getting praise from the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, people like that?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: It was a lot of fun, and really just to get the recognition that we got, it was really exciting to see everyone following women's golf and women's amateur golf. It was definitely very tiring, but a lot of fun.

Q. Jennifer, it's been almost two months since the Augusta National Women's Amateur. Have you had time, maybe by yourself, to self-reflect and really take it in, that shot on 13 and No. 16?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: I did go back and watch it the middle of May. Between regionals and nationals, I went back and watched it, and that's -- yes, I did let it sink in then.

Q. They officially upped the pay to a million dollars today, and you turned pro today. Any correlation?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: We'll see. I mean, it's awesome to hear that. Obviously, I'm out here to make money. So I'm just going to go out there and play my game and see what happens.

Q. Jennifer, as much as you'd heard the rumors and pairing with Maria and Sierra, is that better, perhaps, than, just to pull a couple names out of the air, Nelly Korda and Lexi Thompson for you, for today, for this week?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: I think everyone, all the fans, all the world wanted to see Maria and I play together again, and I think a lot of people think that we were just putting on an act. And I think they'll really see that that's how Maria and I are playing with each other, no matter how we're playing or anything. So I think it will be great to show that to the world.

Obviously, any pairing is great. Nelly Korda is great, Lexi Thompson, everyone.

Q. What was your biggest takeaway from that Saturday at Augusta?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: How many people were watching women's golf. The amount of support that we got -- direct messages, texts, everything. It was -- that was probably the biggest thing.

Q. Do you ever feel like you were just the right golfer in the right place at the right time? Obviously, you've got the talent, but there's only one first Augusta Women's Amateur.
JENNIFER KUPCHO: I mean, I went from earlier in the year saying I wasn't going to play, to play -- to going and playing. So it is a little crazy to look back and know that I wasn't even going to be in the event.

Q. You mentioned that you are now doing this for money. Obviously, there are a lot of things you've got to learn, being a professional. Do you know yet the things that you don't know? And what are you doing to try to bring yourself up to speed about how to play as a pro?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: I mean, I'm sure I don't know a lot of things, but I do -- Kristen Gillman, Lauren Stephenson, have been out here earlier this year. So obviously, they're my great friends. So I've talked to them and they're helping Maria and I through it.

So, I mean, you don't know what you don't know.

Q. Jennifer, Mike had mentioned this will be your third appearance in the United States Women's Open. Having the experience as an amateur playing, and now playing for the first time as a professional, do you think the intimidation factor is stronger as an amateur or now as a professional, making your debut, given what you've done recently?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: I would say playing as an amateur. I mean, the professionals tend -- like nothing against them, but they tend to look down on amateurs.

So I think to be on the same level as them, obviously, I'm a rookie so I'm sure there will still be the same things. But I think definitely amateur is a little bit more intimidating.

Q. Are there pros, maybe, who you haven't really interacted with before that have said something to you this week that has stood out?
JENNIFER KUPCHO: I mean, I played a practice round today with Brittany Lang, and she was very nice, very welcoming. So, I mean, we'll see. I only got here last night so I'm sure there's more to come.

Q. What advice do you think you could get from -- you mentioned Lauren, but maybe some of the more established pros that you think could really help you sort of feel settled in as a professional and just get used to doing this for a living and the confidence that it takes.
JENNIFER KUPCHO: I would say really pacing yourself. You can't get burned out going so many weeks in a row, and I think that's probably going to be the biggest thing. A lot of people say make sure you make friends. But with my class this year, there's six or seven of us out here so I think I already have that friendship piece taken care of.

THE MODERATOR: Jennifer, you played here at the Country Club of Charleston the 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur. What, if anything, do you remember of the course from that experience?

JENNIFER KUPCHO: Obviously, I was very young back then. Didn't hit as far. I remember the course was really long and every hole was into the wind. So definitely tough.

THE MODERATOR: Jennifer Kupcho, 8:28 off the 1st tee on Thursday. Best of luck this week.


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