By DUSTIN MAIN
Fort Collins – Northern Colorado men’s golfer, Steven Kupcho (Westminster), put an exclamation point on an already rewarding summer break, as the sophomore-to-be overcame a nine-stroke deficit to claim the Colorado Golf Association Stroke Play Championship at Fort Collins Country Club on Sunday.
Heading into the final round, Kupcho stood in 16th place, trailing the University of Denver’s Jordan Burgess, who held the lead in each of the first three rounds. Saving his best for last, Kupcho unleashed for a tournament-low four-under-par 66 – capping one of the biggest final-round rallies ever by a CGA Stroke Play winner.
Kupcho, the 2011 CGA Junior Stroke Play Champion, edged Burgess by one stroke, birdying his final three holes and carding a 3-over-par 283. He joined Alex Gutesha of the University of Kansas as one of just three players to break par in the final round.
"I had no idea I could really win it from that far back today," Kupcho said. "I honestly didn't know how far back I was. My goal was to go as low as I possibly could and maybe give the top five a run."
Teeing off nearly an hour before Burgess, Kupcho, birdied No. 16 from five feet, before sinking 12-foot birdies on each of the final two holes.
"If there's been one part of my game I've always struggled with, it's been finishing a tournament," he said. "Finishing strong the last day means so much. It's something to build on."
The first place finish punctuates a stellar summer for Kupcho, who finished second in the CGA Public Links, and made it to the quarterfinals of the CGA Match Play. He also nabbed top-amateur honors at the HealthONE Colorado Open on July 29 and was named to the America Sky 2012 All-Academic Team. The Westminster native was also selected as the America Sky Newcomer of the Year this past May.
"Winning this means a lot. A lot of (college) coaches counted me out coming out of high school, so for me to have this kind of a summer -- a Northern Colorado golfer to have this kind of a summer -- it's great. It shows that hard work pays off. And no matter what anyone says, don't count yourself out."