Earlier this season, Dutch golfer Anne van Dam had hoped the Big Green Egg Open in her native Netherlands wouldn’t be the week of July 11. Her reason? She already set her sights on playing in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational with her best friend Sophia Popov. And though she’s unfortunately missing a special week on the Ladies European Tour, a 9-under 61 in the second round alongside Popov at Midland Country Club in Thursday’s second round certainly helped enhance an already spectacular week.
“For me there was not a single reason to not play here,” van Dam said. “It's just such a fun event. If you can play with your best friend and just have fun out there, it's just something to look forward to all week, all year.”
Popov and van Dam agree that the key to their success is their complimenting styles of game.
“I was making a lot of putts on the front nine, especially some longer ones,” Popov said. “But I had the freedom to putt because she was striking it really well too. Then on the back nine she hit a couple close and made some clutch birdies down the stretch. One or two holes where I was a little bit out, she kind of played her game, and vice versa. I think it's just perfect. We just complemented each other very well the last two days.”
This is Team Pop Dam Bottles’ second appearance at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational and only van Dam’s third event on the LPGA Tour this season. The 26-year-old has been playing more on the LET due to limited status but couldn’t miss the opportunity to play with her BFF Popov, who has played in 14 Tour events in 2022 with a season-best finish of T18 at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.
“We just trust each other through thick and thin,” van Dam said. “I think that gives you so much freedom when you play. Golf, you go through ups and downs. Sophia has been one of those girls that's always been there through all of them. If you get the chances like this to play together, it's just memories forever for sure.”