By Andrew Both
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – Less than two months after finishing first and second at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, American Jennifer Kupcho and Mexico’s Maria Fassi make their professional debuts at the U.S. Women’s Open starting on Thursday.
Kupcho introduced herself to the biggest women’s golf television audience of the year with her Augusta win, while Fassi also left the amateur game with a bang, winning the American collegiate (NCAA) individual championship last week.
Their rivalry may well continue for years to come, and more immediately they will be able to keep an eye each other at the Country Club of Charleston, where officials have placed them in the same threesome on Thursday and Friday.
Fassi arrives on the pro scene amid rave reviews of her game and seemingly unlimited potential.
“I’ve been dreaming about this for 14 years and it’s soon to be a reality,” the 21-year-old from Pachuca Hidalgo said on championship eve.
“There’s not a better event to make my professional debut than the U.S. Open, so I’m super excited.
“The last few months have been amazing, especially playing in front of (something) like 25,000 people at Augusta.
“Then playing NCAA, getting to win, I think it all just got me ready for this week and I’m excited to see how I do on tour now.”
Kupcho, meanwhile, is looking forward to earning the respect of her fellow pros.
“Nothing against them, but professionals tend to look down on amateurs,” said the 22-year-old from Westminster, Colorado.
“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.”
Fassi is not expecting too many nerves after her experience at the home of the Masters.
“I had never been as nervous as I was on the first tee at Augusta National,” she said.
(Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Ed Osmond)