Busy Week

Women’s golf at the forefront in Colorado this week, with Inspirato Colorado Women’s Open and girls state high school tournaments overlapping, and Jennifer Kupcho among the marquee players at U.S. Women’s Open

By Gary Baines – 5/31/2022

Women’s Golf Day won’t be formally celebrated until June 7, but in Colorado this week would seem to be a particularly fitting moment for such an event.

After all, the Inspirato Colorado Women’s Open will be held Wednesday through Friday at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in northeast Denver. The girls state high school golf tournaments are Tuesday and Wednesday. And arguably the most prestigious women’s golf tournament in the world is set for Thursday through Sunday in North Carolina — the U.S. Women’s Open, where Colorado native Jennifer Kupcho will attempt to win her second major championship of the year.

Let’s take a quick look at each event.

The Colorado Women’s Open made big news earlier this year when officials announced that it will match the hefty purse and winner’s portion that the Inspirato Colorado Open offers — $250,000 and $100,000 respectively. So this week’s event — the 28th time the CWO has been conducted overall — will be the first one with those big numbers attached to it.

Not surprisingly, the tournament has attracted quite a strong field, including current/past LPGA regulars such as Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Jill McGill; Gerina  Mendoza (Piller), who has 40 top-10 LPGA finishes to her credit, though no victories; Savannah Vilaubi, the defending CWO champ; Jenny Coleman and Robyn Choi, both University of Colorado alums; Lauren Coughlin and Haley Moore, along with two-time CWO champ Becca Huffer of Monument.

There’s also an impressive amateur field, including many of Colorado’s best.

As has long been the case, the Colorado Women’s Open features a championship and a pro-am held concurrently over the 54 holes of the event. The pro and pro-am fields will be cut after 36 holes.

Spectators are encouraged to come, free of charge.

For Wednesday’s tee times, CLICK HERE.

The three girls state high school tournaments began on Tuesday — with Class 5A at the Olde Course at Loveland, 4A at Tiara Rado in Grand Junction, and 3A at the Broadlands in Broomfield.

Katelyn Lehigh of Loveland, seeking to win a second straight state high school title — this one in her hometown, will have to rally in Wednesday’s final round at the Olde Course to make it happen. The 5A defending champion opened with a 3-over-par 75 and trails leader Elle Higgins of Valor Christian by three, and Prairie View senior Lily Nelson by one. Valor leads Loveland by 13 and Cherry Creek by 17 in the 5A team competition.

In Class 4A in Grand Junction, freshmen hold down the first and second positions after day 1 as Hadley Ashton of Erie fired a 3-over-par 74 after playing her last five holes in 2 under, while Macy Kleve of Windsor carded a 75. Sophomore Logan Hale of Erie is in third place after a 76. Ashton won the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado Tour Championship last year as a 14-year-old. Holy Family’s Jessica Mason isn’t defending her 4A individual title this week as she’s competing instead in the Colorado Women’s Open.

With three players in the top 15 individually, Erie leads the team race by 11 strokes over Windsor.

In Class 3A in Broomfield, sophomore Maddy Bante of St. Mary’s Academy opened with a 1-over-par 73 and holds a two-stroke lead over Peak to Peak’s Noelle Thompson and a five-stroke cushion over Liberty Common’s Sydney Taylor.

St. Mary’s Academy is up by 19 in the 3A team competition, with Kent Denver second and Colorado Academy third.

After her victory roughly two months ago in the year’s first women’s major of 2022, the Chevron Championship, Colorado native Jennifer Kupcho has moved into the elite level of opening-round pairings. Specifically, for Thursday and Friday in the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles in North Carolina, Kupcho will tee off with the world’s top-ranked player, Jin Young Ko, and No. 6 Lexi Thompson at 6:39 a.m. and 12:24 p.m. (MT) on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Kupcho, who went to college in North Carolina at Wake Forest, currently sits 16th in the world rankings. 

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for ColoradoGolf.org since 2009. He was voted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2021. Email: ColoradoGolfJournal@mac.com)