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Kupcho nearing LPGA card while battling food poisoning

Jennifer Kupcho at the 2018 Marathon Classic
Getty Images

PINEHURST, N.C. – Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho is putting together a remarkable effort at LPGA Q-Series considering she can barely eat.

The reigning NCAA champion is making a run at winning despite battling the lingering effects of food poisoning. She shot a 3-under-par 69 Thursday to move into a tie for third, just two shots off the lead.

“It has been a struggle, trying to eat well and just make it through the day,” Kupcho said. “I’ve been barely eating, but I’ve been forcing myself, so I have enough strength to hit the ball.” 

Her father, Mike, who is caddying for her this week, has also been ill, as have Jennifer’s grandparents. They began feeling ill before the fourth round.

“We’re thinking it’s either the turkey sandwich at lunch or the pizza we got that night,” Mike said. “We’re trying to figure out what it was.”

The Czech Republic’s Klara Spilkova (71), a Ladies European Tour winner, shares the lead with Sarah Schmelzel (68), a second-year Symetra Tour pro from Phoenix. Schmelzel equaled the day’s low score in the suspended sixth round.

At 14 under overall, Schmelzel and Spilkova are two shots ahead of Kupcho (69) and another collegian, Alabama’s Lauren Stephenson (71).

Full-field scores from LPGA Q-Series

With rain suspending play for 37 minutes late in the afternoon, 26 players were still on the course when the round was halted by darkness. 

The sixth round is scheduled to resume at 7:50 a.m. on Friday with the seventh round to begin at 9:15 a.m.

Weather threatens to be a factor again Friday. The forecast calls for storms to blow in overnight, with scattered showers in the morning and more storms returning in the afternoon.

A field of 101 is competing. The top 45 and ties at the conclusion of the eighth and final round will earn LPGA tour cards, with everyone else earning Symetra Tour status.

The amateurs continue to be a big story. Six amateurs are among the top 45, with five collegians among the top 11.

Ohio State’s Jaclyn Lee (70) is seventh, Alabama’s Kristen Gillman (73) eighth and Arkansas’ Maria Fassi (74) 11th.

Japanese amateur Suzuka Yamaguchi, an 18-year-old high school student, is alone at 45th after posting a 74.

England’s Mel Reid (71) is sixth, American Alison Lee (72) is tied for 19th and Cheyenne Woods (74) is tied for 42nd in their bids to regain LPGA status.