Golf: German world No. 304 lifts Women's Open title; PH's Dottie Ardina at 64th

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 24 2020 05:23 AM

A world No. 304 raised a major trophy on the women's tour.

Sophia Popov on Sunday became the first German to win a women's major with victory in the British Open, just a year after being on the verge of quitting golf.

Three ahead at the start of the final round, the 27-year-old finished on 7-under 277 after carding a 68.

Thailand's Jasmine Suwannapura was second, 2 shots off the pace.

Meanwhile, the Philippines' Dottie Ardina finished tied for 64th with 4 others with a 14-over aggregate.

Ardina shot an even 71 on the day, her best round after going over in all 3 previous rounds, including a 76 on Saturday.

Popov was in tears even before she hit the final putt, and was overcome with emotion as she left the final green at Royal Troon.

"I haven't talked about it before but I had a lot of health issues in my early time on Tour. After a couple of years it was finally diagnosed as Lyme disease," she said.

"It is something that sticks with you, but I am very careful with my nutrition and working out. But it took a lot of personal research and now I feel pretty good."

The tournament was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus and Popov admitted it was a strange sensation.

- Like 'Lord of the Rings' -

"Walking down 18th was strange with no crowds. But it was so beautiful. I thought it looked like 'Lord of the Rings'," she said. 

"Sometimes grandstands and huge galleries mean you can't see the course properly. So it was a different kind of nice."

Popov, who had never even won a major Tour event, made a shaky start, hitting her opening tee shot into a bunker and going on to make a bogey five.

But with her German boyfriend Max as her caddie, she bounced back with birdies from inside 10 feet at the second and third and never wavered.

She made another birdie at the sixth and vital back nine birdies at the 15th and 16th helped seal the deal. 

Suwannapura did her best to ruin the fairytale. 

The 27-year-old two-time LPGA Tour winner got to within a shot after a magnificent run of four birdies in a row from the fourth.

And after bogeys at the 11th and 13th, she again applied the pressure with back-to-back birdies at the 16th and 17th.

But it was only good enough for second place, two ahead of Australian Minjee Lee, who finished outright third after a 69.

Popov, unlike so many players, managed to fit in a reasonable amount of golf during the coronavirus hiatus. 

She won three times on the Cactus Tour in Arizona in April and May -- her final win coming at Troon North in Scottsdale.

She only qualified for the Women's British Open with a top 10 finish at the Marathon Classic at the start of the month -- and arrived in Scotland on Tuesday after competing on the Symetra Tour in the US.

Before Sunday she had won just $108,000 (91,498 euros) on the LPGA Tour; now she has added the top prize of $675,000.

Popov joins two German men as major champions -- Bernhard Langer won the 1985 and 1993 Masters, while Martin Kaymer claimed the 2010 PGA Championship and 2014 US Open.

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