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Sophia Popov has admitted to being “a little bit frustrated” after discovering that the five-year LPGA exemption she should have received after winning last week’s AIG Women’s Open is, in fact, valid for only one year. 

The US-born German thrilled golf fans the world over when she defied the odds to win her first major championship at Royal Troon on Sunday.

The 27-year-old was ranked world No.304 at the time of her win and was playing on the Symetra Tour – the second tier of women’s golf in the US – having come up one shot short in her bid to win an LPGA card at Q-School last year. 

In addition to a cheque for $675,000 – which more than quintupled her career earnings – Popov also received a lifetime exemption into the Women’s Open as well as full playing privileges for the LPGA for the next five years.

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Or so she thought.

It has since emerged that only players who are already members of the LPGA are eligible for the five-year free pass. As a member of the Symetra Tour, Popov is instead only eligible for playing rights on the world’s most lucrative women’s circuit for the remainder of this season and the entire 2021 season. 

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Speaking to GOLF.com about the moment she found this out, Popov said: “I definitely got a little bit frustrated about the whole thing. It’s tough because I feel like I deserve the full five years of exemption from the LPGA but, at the same time, I understand the regulations and the fact that they can’t change the rules for a certain player.”

She added that both she and her agent have contacted the LPGA about the matter but, whilst sympathetic, they have said that there is little they can do. 

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“It’s a tough situation because I know they’re on my side and they support me and they want that for me too, but they have to be fair to all players and all of the major winners, so I do also understand their perspective,” added Popov.

The German is now considering an appeal. 

“Even if you could negotiate a couple more years than just the one, I feel like I deserve that,” she added.


author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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