Chatting with America's Caddie -- Jennifer Kupcho and almost turning down an invite to the Augusta National Women's Amateur

Jennifer Kupcho talked to Michael Collins about what it was like to win the first Augusta National Women's Amateur and much more. ESPN

There can be only one first. History rarely cares if someone says, "Hey, I was the second person ..." Which is why historically Jennifer Kupcho's name will always be remembered. She was the first to win the Augusta National Women's Amateur in 2019. Because of the pandemic, the event was not played in 2020. So Kupcho has now been holding the title for almost two years. The weird part is, she almost didn't even accept the invite in 2019. Wait ... what?

Collins: Let's go way back to the beginning when the announcement was made that they were going to have a women's amateur event at Augusta National. What do you remember that feeling being?

Kupcho: It was pretty exciting. They announced it at the Masters a year before (2018). So I think my like original reaction was like, 'Oh, I hope I get to play in that. That would be really cool to play Augusta (for a) tournament.

Collins: And then when you realized, "Oh s---, this is really going to happen." What was that like?

Kupcho: It was really exciting. I actually originally turned down the invitation. Because I had committed to playing with the team (Wake Forest University) for another semester after I had already got my LPGA card. I felt like I should play for the team and not really do anything else. Obviously, I changed my mind.

Collins: OK, stop. What? You have to tell me: Who you told about your thought process, and what was their reaction?

Kupcho: Honestly, I don't think anyone ever like was like, "Are you serious?" But I mean I had (talked to) a couple people and my college coach. I'm sure in the back of their mind they were kind of thinking, "You should probably go play." But they never said it. And I didn't ever really think anything of it.

Side note from the Caddie: I told her the story of Colt Knost, who turned down the chance to play the Masters as an amateur in 2007 to instead turn pro. He never played in the Masters as a professional.

Collins: Obviously you made the correct decision. Looking back at that week now, what was different about that tournament compared to others you had played in?

Kupcho: I think the biggest thing is they had events planned. I feel like every second of every day it was like, "You're going here and then you're doing this and then you're doing this." I think I've never been so tired leading up to an event, because there was dinner after dinner. And then it was like, "Oh, we're going do this activity at the ballpark." It was like a minor league ballpark, and we were staying at the hotel right across the street. We got to hit shots out onto the field and there was a dinner. But I just remember being so tired before the tournament started. It was all really fun. Augusta did a great job of planning it, and everyone had a great time. It was just like, "Wow, I'm really tired now!"

Collins: The only thing you didn't have was free time, which seems crazy.

Kupcho: Exactly.

Collins: What was the hardest thing about the week, golfwise?

Kupcho: I would say practicing. Because of all the events that we had, I just wanted to relax. So actually practicing was hard to get yourself mentally focused. You were so excited for the rest of the day, like, "Oh, this is going to be so fun tonight!" and then you're like, "Oh yeah, I'm here to play a golf tournament. Not to go to dinner."

Collins: Everyone talks about how much different Augusta is in person compared to on TV. What was the biggest wow factor for you?

Kupcho: Probably how hilly it is. You don't see all the undulations and how uphill or downhill the holes are on TV. But in person and walking it, you're like, 'Wow, this is really hilly!'

Collins: The other cool thing about your win -- your caddies.