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Despite feeling 'unprepared,' Jennifer Kupcho fires 65 to vault up leaderboard

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NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Jennifer Kupcho shot the round of the championship, thus far, on Friday, a 5-under 65, in which she hit 18 of 18 greens in regulation.

And yet, she says she’s still not at ease with Aronimink Golf Club.

“Honestly, just not feeling comfortable with the golf course,” Kupcho said. “I mean, I played each nine only once this week [in practice rounds], so just like – I didn't feel like I knew what was going to happen.”

What’s happened is, she’s put herself in contention entering the weekend of a major championship. At 3 under par, she held the clubhouse lead upon the conclusion to her second round at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. (Editor's note: Sei Young Kim finished late Friday at 4 under to hold the 36-hole lead.)

KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Kupcho said she limited her preparation, not because of an consistently ailing back, but because she needed rest after contending at last week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic, where she finished runner-up.

“It takes a big toll being at the top of the leaderboard mentally, so I was just taking a break,” she said.

Expect the next two days to be exhausting.

Though Kupcho has never won a professional event, she’s got four top-5 finishes, including a runner-up showing at last year’s Evian Championship.

This season, however, had been one of disappointment – until she made a couple of changes. When the tour returned from its lengthy coronavirus hiatus, Kupcho missed four cuts in five starts. She then decided to get a new caddie and return to some old irons.

Kupcho put her college clubs, Ping i210s, in her bag – and employed Kyle Alexander to carry it – ahead of the ANA Inspiration. She tied for 22nd there and nearly won last week. Now, she’s contending at a major, which should not come as a great surprise given her amateur resume – NCAA champion, Augusta National Women’s Amateur winner.

She wins big events by not placing them on a pedestal.

“Honestly, I don’t really treat majors any different than any other tournament,” she said.

That’s good, because she had the same “unprepared” feeling last week and nearly won.

“I felt completely unprepared, and honestly, I felt the same way coming into this week. I didn't feel like I was ready to come play this type of a golf course,” she said.

“It's really just – I think not being prepared brings another challenge for me, and I think that's what helps me play well.”