World No.304 Sophia Popov wins AIG Women's Open

Sophia Popov Aigwo

In a fairytale that her compatriots the Brothers Grimm would have been proud of, Germany's Sophia Popov has won the 2020 AIG Women's Open.

The 27-year-old, who only guaranteed her place in the field at Royal Troon a fortnight ago and played just one practice round after arriving in Ayrshire on Tuesday, converted her 54-hole lead into victory to secure her first real win of any significance since turning pro in 2014.

She carded a three-under-par final round of 68 to finish on seven-under, two shots clear of runner-up Jasmine Suwannapura. Minjee Lee (-3) and 2015 champion Inbee Park (-1) were the only other players to finish under-par. 

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With her win, world No.304 Popov - who had boyfriend Max Mehles caddying for her - became the first German to claim the championship and increased her career earnings by almost 700%. 

Forcing back tears after getting her hands on the trophy, an emotional Popov said: "I don't even know if I can get anything out of my mouth.

"It feels amazing. There's been a lot of hard work behind it. There have been a lot of struggles that I went through the past six years, especially health-wise. I'm just so glad I was able to overcome everything,

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"I always knew I was capable. There have just been a lot of obstacles that I've had to face. I almost quit playing last year. Thank God I didn't!"

Popov caddied for her close friend Anne van Dam during the LPGA's first event back from lockdown at the Drive On Championship last month. She then went to the Marathon Classic, where she finished in a tie for ninth to secure one of the ten spots up for grabs in the Women's Open. 

Last week, she maintained her good form, finishing runner-up in the Founders Tribute event on the Symetra Tour in Arizona rather than come over to prepare early for the Women's Open.

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"Everybody said, why are you playing in Phoenix?" added Popov. "However, my focus was still the Symetra Tour and the money list there.

"For me, the Women's Open was a bonus. I got here on Tuesday. I knew my game in really good shape and I knew that anything could happen. I took that belief with me into every round but I honestly never expected this. I was uber-nervous this whole round but I am so glad I was able to get it done."

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