23 August 2020 18:36
Sophia Popov caps improbable run to win Women's Open Sophia Popov celebrates her victory at the Women's Open from Royal Troon. For the second time in the history of the sport, a golfer ranked outside of the top 300 in the world has claimed one of golf's major championships. Sophia Popov, a journeywoman who primarily plays on the LPGA's developmental tour, claimed her first professional victory at the Women's Open Sunday with a final score of seven under. Popov (-7) was one of only four golfers to finish under-par for the week at Royal Troon, which proved a proper test for many of the game's best in its first-ever Women's Open. The 27-year-old Popov capped off a cinderella week at the Open with a final round 68, beating out Jasmine Suwannapura by two strokes to claim the title.
Popov, who hails from Germany, was just the 304th ranked golfer in the world heading into the week. She joins 2003 Open Champion Ben Curtis as the only golfers ever to win a major championship while ranked outside of the top 300. Prior to this week, Popov's best finish at the Women's Open was 67th in 2011, and her best finish in a major was T57 in the 2018 Women's PGA Championship. With the win, Popov claims the Women's Open's $675,000 first-prize and her first major championship. Despite entering the 2020 Women's British Open as the 304th-ranked player in the world with no LPGA Tour wins on her resume, Sophia Popov held off the field to win the prestigious major tournament at Royal Troon Golf Club in Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland, on Sunday.
Popov's fourth round got off to a shaky start with a bogey on the first, but she rebounded quickly with birdies on the second and third: The U.S.-born golfer representing Germany added another birdie on the par-five sixth to extend her lead even more before making the turn: After playing steady golf and carding eight consecutive pars, Popov came through with her fourth birdie of the day on No. 15 thanks largely to a remarkable approach shot from the deep rough: Popov delivered another birdie on the 16th and entered the final two holes with a four-shot lead by virtue of her stellar play: With Suwannapura and Lee too far back to truly make a run, Popov played steady golf over the final two holes to seal the victory. She needed only a tap-in bogey to become a Women's British Open champion and win $675,000 in the process: While Popov came through in the clutch and staved off those in pursuit of her, there was a time early in the final round when it seemed like Suwannapura or Lee might have a chance to chase her down. From Nos. 4 through 7, Suwannapura carded four consecutive birdies, including this one on the par-five sixth: Suwannapura damaged her chances significantly on the back nine, though, with bogeys on Nos. 11 and 13. Lee also got off to a strong start with two birdies on the front nine: She added another on the 16th, but Popov was already playing so well at that point that there was no chasing her down. Although she never truly had a chance to contend, Inbee Park enjoyed one of the most impressive rounds of the tournament Sunday, as she shot a five-under 66, which featured seven birdies, including four in a row on the front nine: The 32-year-old Park is one of the greatest female golfers of all time with seven major championships to her credit, and she showed that type of form Sunday by establishing herself as one of only four golfers to finish under par for the tournament. For as good as Park was, the day belonged to Popov, as she went from a fairly anonymous golfer to an LPGA Tour star by winning the British Open. Popov will forever be known as a major champion, but the big challenge now is proving it wasn't a fluke, and her first chance to show that in a major will be the ANA Inspiration beginning Sept. Sophia Popov (Photo credit: Richard Heathcote/R&A via Getty Images) TROON: Sophia Popov became the first female golfer from Germany to capture a major title when she won the Women's British Open by two strokes at Royal Troon on Sunday. Popov, who went into the final round with a three-shot lead, bounced back from bogeying the first hole by making five birdies in her 3-under 68. Jasmine Suwannapura was the runner-up after shooting 67. It completed one of the most unlikely wins in the tournament's history. Popov is ranked No. 304 and dropped off the LPGA Tour last year. She hadn't previously won on the LPGA Tour, the second-tier Symetra Tour or on the Ladies European Tour. The winner's check of $675,000 is more than six times her entire career earnings before Sunday.