Kupcho wins at Augusta National with charge on back 9

Olivia Mehaffey: Royal County Down golfer qualifies in top 30 for Augusta National

Maria Fassi fired another 70 Thursday in the second round of the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur.

"It's exciting to be a part of history", Lopez said.

The first two rounds were played at the Champions Retreat course in Evans, Georgia.

The club didn't have a female member until 2012, and now there are six.

Striking blows for gender equality with every swing at former men-only enclave Augusta National Golf Club, women golfers competed for a trophy for the first time on Saturday at the home of the Masters.

It featured all the heritage of Augusta National, including honorary tee shots by Nancy Lopez, Lorena Ochoa, Se Ri Pak and Annika Sorenstam.

She finished 21 spots out of a qualifying position for Saturday's final round at Augusta National Golf Club. "The other part of what I've been focusing on the last few days from a larger sense - and I think our sponsors have realized this and emphasized this - is focusing on women's accomplishments in general, not just in golf and sports".

After pars at 17, Kupcho closed her round in style by rolling in a long-range birdie putt at the last to seal the victory and card a five-under 67 which took her to 10-under 206.

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No matter. She was at 5-under 139 and plays in the final group with Fassi, one of the longer hitters in the field.

The golf was superb, at least at the top of the leaderboard.

Kupcho was even through 12 holes before coming on in a big way down the stretch, playing her last six holes in 5 under. Both sent a message of their own long before the tournament by earning LPGA Tour cards past year and deferring until after they finished college. Kupcho had reason to believe she was in trouble when a migraine surfaced, causing vision so blurry she couldn't see the line she marks on her ball while putting.

Her 4-hybrid came up a little short, 10 yards away.

When dreams become a reality.

"I started out strong and was hitting the ball really well", Kupcho said.

"We had a discussion if it was better to have a local caddie tomorrow but I want to stick with our plan I think it is great that he is here, he knows me more than anyone".

Mehaffey mixed four birdies with as many bogeys in her second round to comfortably secure her place at Augusta tomorrow, now in a tie for 11th.

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The Wake Forest senior then took one of the most storied walks in golf, down the 18th fairway with one hand on the trophy as patrons cheered her on. Instead, it came out with a sharp draw, with enough distance to roll by the pin just over the back, setting up a birdie.

"It's going to be a tight race all the way to the finish", Kupcho said.

Kupcho's elation was mixed with relief as she struggled with a migraine and blurred vision from the eighth through 11th holes that threatened to scuttle her title hopes.

"It's unbelievable what we were able to have out here today", Fassi said. "I didn't want it to end". I did all I could. "It's really great. I really love to see it happening".

Along the way, their friendship and sportsmanship was on full display.

The seesaw battle escalated with Fassi making a birdie at 14 and Kupcho doing the same at 15.

After bogeying the first hole, Fassi had four birdies on the front nine. "So I think we'll make a lot of birdies, and it will be pretty fun to watch us".

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