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Sophia Popov goes from caddie to LPGA major champion

Sophia Popov wins 2020 British Women's Open
Germany's Sophia Popov revels in her improbable route to victory Sunday at the Women's British Open at Royal Troon in Scotland.

Just 3 weeks earlier, the German caddied in an LPGA event before fate intervened and handed her a tournament spot, setting in motion her improbable victory at the Women's British Open

Less than a month ago, Sophia Popov was a caddie on the LPGA. Today, she’s a major champion and an LPGA member.

Popov shot 3-under 68 on Sunday at Royal Troon in Scotland to complete a 7-under 277 total and improbable two-stroke victory at the Women’s British Open (scores).

“It feels amazing,” Popov said through tears while cradling the trophy. “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, and I'm just glad I was able to overcome everything and just keep my head in it. I knew I was capable. I just had a lot of obstacles thrown in my way, and I'm glad I stuck with it. I almost quit playing last year, so thank God I didn't.”

Popov, 27, a native of the U.S. who was raised in Germany and holds dual citizenship, was ranked No. 304 in the world to begin the week. She had not won on any major professional tour since turning professional in 2014 after college golf at Southern California. Last year, she missed seven cuts in eight starts on the LPGA.

Three weeks ago, at the LPGA Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio, Popov looped for Anne van Dam. A week later, Popov landed a spot in the LPGA Marathon Classic after many of the top international players opted not to travel to the U.S. because of coronavirus concerns. Popov tied for ninth, earning a berth in the Women’s British Open, the first of four major championships that remain on the pandemic-altered revised schedule.

Popov began the final round with a three-stroke lead but bogeyed the par-4 first hole. She bounced back with birdies on the next two holes, both par 4s, and quickly settled down. Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura, who threated Popov on the front nine with four consecutive birdies to pull within one stroke after seven holes, shot 67 to finish solo second at 5-under 279.

Popov was rewarded with a $675,000 winner’s check – roughly six times her career earnings on the LPGA – and tour membership.

She becomes Germany’s third major champion, joining two-time Masters winner Bernhard Langer and Martin Kaymer, who won PGA and U.S. Open titles.

“It was all about getting it together during the right weeks, and for me honestly my biggest goal was to win an LPGA event, period,” Popov said. “For it to be a major right off the bat, it was obviously more than I could have hoped for but also something that I did know I was capable of.”

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