Three years ago, Sophia Popov received a diagnosis that finally made the last few years make sense. In her winner’s interview after capturing the 2020 AIG Women’s Open title, Popov revealed an extended battle with Lyme Disease that kept her health and her golf game at bay for several years.
“My rookie year, I started having a lot of health issues, and honestly we didn't even know what it was. It took a total of about 20 doctor visits three years later to figure out that I had Lyme disease,” said Popov. “At that point it was so chronic, though, that I had just been struggling a lot with fatigue, and honestly, I had like 10 different symptoms and it was just very, it was a tough time to go through just because I didn't know what it was, and it took so long to pinpoint exactly what was going on.”
Popov lost 25 pounds and had to work hard to regain the energy and stamina that was zapped by the disease. She is still very mindful of her diet and exercise to keep the illness from creeping back.
“I'm very disciplined as far as, you know, my health goes, my nutrition goes and working out and doing everything in my power to have as little as possible symptoms, and round, I have it under control really well. I want to keep it that way,” said Popov. “It was a long road to get here because there was a lot of personal research and figuring out on my own what would make me feel better, and I'm glad I got to the point where I'm feeling pretty good, and hopefully it stays that way.”
SOPHIA POPOV’S LPGA TOUR MEMBERSHIP AND ELIGIBILITY
Following her victory, Sophia Popov officially accepted LPGA Tour Membership. She first earned LPGA Tour Membership in 2015 but played conditionally through 2019. Heading into the 2020 season, Popov had no LPGA Tour status, instead playing full time on the Epson Tour.
Popov’s first eligible tournament as an LPGA Tour Member is the Cambia Portland Classic, being held Sept. 17-20. While she is not eligible for the ANA Inspiration in two weeks, her exemption into that major championship will begin in 2021.
This win at the AIG Women’s Open caps a whirlwind month for Popov. She started the LPGA Tour’s resumption by caddying for her best friend Anne van Dam four weeks ago at the LPGA Drive On Championship. The following week, Popov tied for ninth at the LPGA Tour’s Marathon LPGA Classic in Ohio, where she earned one of 10 qualifying spots for this week’s major.
Popov then flew to Arizona, where she tied for second at the Epson Tour’s Founders Tribute at Longbow Golf Club. She finally traveled to Scotland on Monday and only had one practice round on Royal Troon before teeing it up in Thursday’s first round.