Sophia Popov has been on a roll, and she doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon. After caddying for friend Anne van Dam during the LPGA Tour’s resumption at the Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio, Popov went on to tie for ninth the following week at the Marathon LPGA Classic, becoming one of 10 qualifiers through the event for the AIG Women’s Open. Instead of journeying across the sea for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open for some extra practice on the links before the major championship, Popov played the Symetra Tour’s Founders Tribute event in Mesa, Ariz., finishing in a tie for second.
“A couple people said, why aren't you leaving earlier, you're playing the Women’s Open, and I said, you know what, honestly for the status I have this year, I need to play Symetra events and I need to make sure I'm doing well with those, and so I didn't want to miss too many events,” said Popov, who recorded a first-round 70 at the AIG Women’s Open. “The Women’s Open to me is a bonus event essentially. I just said, I'm okay with the one practice round. I knew it was only going to be one. I said links golf is links golf, and the conditions change so much anyways that you have to adjust accordingly.”
Popov was one of only three players under-par on the day. Her boyfriend, Max Melhes, flew to Scotland to caddie for her, making her feel even more comfortable as she took on Royal Troon in treacherous weather conditions.
“Usually I'm pretty humble about my game, but today I honestly just made a lot of really good shots. Especially on the front nine, it was really important with the wind into off the right. It was very tough, and I just picked good spots if I did miss the greens. Other than that, just hit a lot of greens in these conditions, actually,” said Popov. “When I was on the first tee box this morning, I said, oh, my God, anything -- even remotely close to par today is going to be an incredible round. I said, if I can keep it under 5-over par then this is going to be great, and
so yeah, I mean, just with the wind blowing in our faces on No. 1, I honestly didn't think I was going to come off the 18th green shooting 1-under par, so I'm extremely happy.”