Sophia Popov rides momentum from first major win into the KPMG Women's PGA Championship
NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA – There are some things that take a little more time to sink in. Getting married. Having a child. Landing a dream job. They’re so monumental that they often take months to seem real.
For Sophia Popov, it may take years for her accomplishment to seem real.
In August, Popov, who had lost her status on the LPGA Tour, revealed an ongoing battle with Lyme disease and contemplated quitting the game, won the AIG Women’s Open Championship. That Sunday at Royal Troon, Popov was the No. 304 ranked player in the world. Her victory wrote a Cinderella story unlike any other in the game, drawing the admiration of players and fans worldwide who couldn’t help but sit up and take notice of her incredible achievement.
“I feel like it's never going to quite sink in,” Popov said Tuesday. “This is just my birthday present, my Christmas present, everything to myself.”
Popov returned home to Germany and celebrated with friends and family and then headed back to her base in Arizona where she celebrated with her brothers. Popov earned the biggest payday of her career at Troon, taking home $675,000. The German admits to splurging on a Trackman, something she couldn’t afford prior to her victory, but has largely saved her earnings. But for Popov, the biggest gains that came from her win were intangible. Confidence. Affirmation. Belief. Those were the takeaways that came with her breakthrough win.
“I love to look back at certain shots that I hit, it's also great for me mentally to go back and look at those and remind myself of how well I was playing under pressure, and I think mentally it was a huge breakthrough for myself,” Popov said. “I've always battled the game between the ears more than anything else my whole golf career, and for me that was the most important thing.”
Now five weeks removed from victory, life still feels like a dream to the newly minted major champion. And this week she will enjoy another pinch worthy moment when she makes her first major start since winning her own major title when she competes at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
“It’s been the coolest five weeks of my life,” Popov said about the time since her win. “I wouldn't want to change it for anything.”