Sophia Popov is one of 12 HSBC Women’s World Championship rookies, all making their first starts in the event dubbed Asia’s major. It’s one tournament Popov has been rearing to compete in and stems off her consistent play since winning the 2019 AIG Women’s Open.
“It's definitely been a very cool experience for me. I think I've watched this tournament over the years and saw the other girls playing and I was never able to qualify for it,” said Popov. “I think that's one of the perks that came with winning the AIG Women's Open last year. I think that's just been kind of almost like a bonus week for me again just being able to enjoy being out here with the Top-70 girls right now and I'm playing on-really really nice golf course.”
A natural traveler, the Popov said it’s eating at her that she can’t be sightseeing around beautiful Singapore. “Normally I'm the kind of person I use half my day to just go out there and experience something new and take my mind off of golf. Now it's really hard because you go back to the hotel room. You're by yourself,” said Popov. “You have to find other distractions other than just going out. You can't leave the hotel. So I think that's hard for me being the kind of person that I am. I like to be very active. So that's not happening this year. But I think that's something that I can look forward to next year hopefully.”
Thanks to a first-round 67, Popov is only three strokes back of leader Inbee Park at -5 in a tie for third after her first competitive round on the New Tanjong Course. Even with a stellar start, Popov said she still felt she left a couple chances out there at Sentosa Golf Club.
“I was hoping to make that last putt on 18 to go 6-under, but it's just been -- I think the course setup definitely lends to a couple lower scores today and maybe it's not. You know, the wind is not quite as consistent, so you do have pockets that -- where it's less windy and you have a chance to really go at some of the flags,” said Popov. “I think that -- I left a few opportunities out there so I felt like I could have been lower than I was at that point. So, it was just kind of -- it was great to be able to roll in a few more putts my last six or seven holes to finish at the number I feel like I deserved for where my game was at today.”