Keeping Score

Sophia Popov races to LPGA lead

German birdies 5 in a row on front side before cruising home at 6-under 64 for a 2-stroke lead at the Pelican Women’s Championship

29: Front-nine score for Germany’s Sophia Popov, who shot 6-under 64 on Thursday to lead the LPGA’s Pelican Women’s Championship in Belleair, Fla. Popov made five consecutive birdies, on Nos. 5-9, to make the turn in 6-under 29 at Pelican Golf Club. She cooled off considerably on the back side, with two birdies offset by two bogeys. South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai birdied Nos. 17 and 18 to hold solo second at 66. American Ally McDonald, who won the tour’s most recent event, four weeks ago at the LPGA Drive On Championship, posted a 67 to share third place with South Korea’s Sei Young Kim. Popov, 28, who played college golf at Southern Cal, broke through for her first LPGA victory this season, winning the Women’s British Open. In four starts since she won at Royal Troon, her best finish has been a T-23, at the Women’s PGA. World No. 1 Jin Young Ko, making her first start of the year in the U.S. after staying close to home on the Korean LPGA during the pandemic, struggled to a 2-over 72 (scores).

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