On Sunday at Royal Troon, Sophia Popov shot a final-round 68 to claim a stunning victory at the AIG Women’s Open.
The 27-year-old – who was born in Massachusetts and raised in Germany – finished at 7-under-par, two strokes clear of Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura. With the victory, the dual citizen becomes the first German to capture a women’s golf major.
Popov’s maiden LPGA win is straight out of a movie script: After losing her Tour card for 2020, she started the LPGA’s COVID reboot by caddying for her best friend Anne van Dam at the limited field LPGA Drive On Championship. The following week, Popov finished T9 at the LPGA Tour’s Marathon LPGA Classic in Ohio, where she earned one of 10 qualifying spots for the major championship.
The University of Southern California alum then flew to Arizona, where she tied for second at the Symetra Tour’s Founders Tribute at Longbow Golf Club. She then traveled to Scotland on Monday, and – with only one practice round on Royal Troon, she produced four rounds of 70, 72, 67, and 68 to pull off one of golf’s feel-good stories of the year – an inspiring story of faith and perseverance.
“It feels amazing. There’s a lot of hard work behind it, and a lot of struggles that I went through the last six years, especially health-wise [Lyme disease]. I’m glad I stuck with it,” Popov said.
“I knew I was capable. I just had a lot of obstacles thrown in my way, and I just, I’m glad I stuck with it. I almost quit playing last year, so thank God I didn’t.
“I guess it is an incredible story and I think, just personally for me, that’s why I broke down on the 18th hole because it’s been something I couldn’t have dreamed of just a week ago.”
Australia’s Minjee Lee finished alone in third on 3-under par, with Inbee Park at one under.
Final Top-5 Finishers
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Sophia Popov -7 (-3)
2. Jasmine Suwannapura -5 (-4)
3. Minjee Lee -3 (-2)
4. Inbee Park -1 (-5)
5. Austin Ernst E (-1)