CWGA's Best of 2017

Kupcho earns CWGA President's Award; Weinstein named Player of the Year, Eaton the Senior POY for 8th time

by Gary Baines - 11/27/2017

It's been obvious for a while now that Jennifer Kupcho has been in a class by herself when competing in CWGA events and other tournaments in Colorado.

Now the CWGA is further cementing her lofty status. After being the CWGA Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons -- an unprecedented feat -- Kupcho has been awarded the CWGA's "highest honor" for 2017, the President's Award.

"The President’s Award is unlike any other CWGA award as it is only given when we recognize exceptional achievements and contributions to the game of golf," CWGA president Juliet Miner said in her congratulatory letter to Kupcho. "Your outstanding performance in the U.S. and Canada this year illustrates why you have received this award."

Kupcho (pictured), a 20-year-old from Westminster who's a junior at Wake Forest, is one of three golfers being recognized by the CWGA for their play in 2017. Mary Weinstein of Highlands Ranch, the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado's Girls Player of the Year in 2016, was named the CWGA Player of the Year for the first time, while Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Kim Eaton earned the CWGA Senior Player of the Year honor for the third straight year and for the eighth time in nine years. Eaton has also been the CWGA's overall Player of the Year a record four times, the last coming in 2010.

Here's a rundown on the highlights of the season for each of the CWGA player honorees:

-- Jennifer Kupcho, CWGA President's Award: With a stellar 2017 season, Kupcho has vaulted into the No. 3 spot in the Women's World Amateur Golf Rankings.

The Jefferson Academy graduate, who was inducted into the Sportswomen of Colorado's Hall of Fame in 2017 after being named the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame's Golf Person of the Year in 2016, continued to blossom on a national/international level, while continuing to add to her Colorado resume. As a Wake Forest sophomore, she nearly became the first Coloradan to win the women's individual NCAA Division I title as she led by two strokes with two holes left before a triple bogey resulted in a runner-up finish. A few days later, she bounced back to qualify for her second straight U.S. Women's Open, and she went on to finish 21st overall -- and second among amateurs -- in arguably the most presigious women's golf tournament in the world.

Additionally, Kupcho won her third consecutive CWGA Stroke Play, this one with a 13-shot victory margin. And at the CoBank Colorado Women's Open, she placed second for the second time while competing against a field that included many professionals. Kupcho also claimed her first national title as she won the Canadian Women's Amateur by five strokes. At the U.S. Women's Amateur, she made the match play round of 64. Collegiately, in the 2017 calendar year, Kupcho earned two individual titles, including at an NCAA Regional, and she was a finalist for women's college player of the year.

The USGA announced earlier this month that Kupcho is one of a dozen American players invited to a Dec. 17-18 practice session in Birmingham, Ala., leading up to the 2018 Curtis Cup, a biennial competition between the top women's amateurs from the U.S. and Great Britain & Ireland. Kupcho isn't guaranteed a spot on the eight-person U.S. Curtis Cup squad, but certainly has a leg up toward earning a berth in the matches, which will be played June 8-10 in Scarsdale, N.Y. Next month's practice sessions are set for Shoal Creek Golf Club, host of the 2018 U.S. Women's Open.

After her eventful 2017, Kupcho was thankful for the latest honor from the CWGA.

"Wow! What a great honor to receive such a high award," Kupcho said in an email over the weekend. "Thank you to the Colorado Women’s Golf Association for awarding me.

"It has truly been a remarkable and memorable year for me on the golf course. I always love playing the events in Colorado and when I go out of state or country it’s always fun to hear and know that I have Colorado golf cheering me on. I want to thank everyone in the Colorado Golf Association and Colorado Women's Golf Association for supporting me, and of course my parents for making everything I do golf-related possible as I continue to chase my dreams!"

-- Mary Weinstein, CWGA Player of the Year: Weinstein, who transferred to the University of Denver in July after a season at Regis University, didn't compete in a lot of tournaments this past summer, but she was a factor most of the time when she did tee it up.

Weinstein earned a spot in her first U.S. Women's Amateur, becoming the first Colorado resident since 2015 to qualify in the state for the national tournament. In CWGA championships, the Highlands Ranch resident finished fourth in the Stroke Play and made the semifinals at the Match Play. She also made the cut and placed 35th in the CoBank Colorado Women's Open, finishing fourth among amateurs.

After being named the women's Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Player of the Year and placing 22nd in the Women's NCAA Division II Championship Finals in the spring, Weinstein made the transition to D-I at DU. The sophomore helped the Pioneers win two team titles in 11 days this fall and posted three top-15 showings individually.

"It is such an honor and I am humbled to be named the 2017 CWGA Player of the Year," Weinstein told "I would like to thank the Colorado Women's Golf Association for this award and all of the support they have given me throughout the years. I am also beyond grateful to be a part of the University of Denver women's golf team and for all of the amazing opportunities that the program has given me."

-- Kim Eaton, CWGA Senior Player of the Year: Since turning 50 in 2009, Eaton has claimed the SPOY award from the CWGA in 2009 through '13, and from 2015 through '17. The one year she didn't earn the honor, 2014, she was in a short-lived "retirement" from CWGA championship play. Also during that time, she was the overall Player of the Year in 2009 and '10.

This year, the Colorado Golf Hall of Famer won the CWGA Senior Stroke Play for the fifth time -- and for the third time with a double-digit victory margin. She also claimed her fourth CWGA Senior Match Play, sweeping the association's major senior titles in a single year for the third time.

The now-full-time Arizona resident owns 24 CWGA titles for her career, leaving her one behind Carol Flenniken's record of 25.

Elsewhere, Eaton advanced to the round of 32 at the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur, a championship where she's made the quarterfinals four times. She helped Arizona finish seventh in the final USGA Women's State Team Championship and won the Arizona Women's Golf Association State Amateur Seniors Championship for the eighth time. And the former police officer earned two gold medals and two silvers in golf in the World Police and Fire Games in Los Angeles. 

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