Wed, December 08, 2021

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Thai hope Jasmine falls three shots behind Popov at AIG Women's Open

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After a masterful bogey-free 67 on Saturday, Germany’s Sophia Popov sits at -4 and holds a three-stroke lead heading into Sunday’s final round of the AIG Women’s Open, the first major of the 2020 LPGA Tour season following a five-month shutdown due to the coronavirus. Australian Minjee Lee and Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura are tied for second at -1.

 

Popov made her move early on Saturday at Royal Troon, hitting driver off the deck from 258 yards at the par-5 fourth to reach the green in two and holing the 15-foot eagle putt.

 

“I hit it in the perfect spot and it just curled around and I was able to make that putt which was nice, because I felt like that made up for the opportunities that I had missed previously,” said Popov, who just missed out on keeping her LPGA Tour card at 2019 LPGA Q-Series. “Got me going into my round and gave me a little bit of a confidence boost for the rest of the round.”

 

Popov added lengthy birdie putts at 12 and 17 to pull three strokes clear of the field, hitting all 18 greens in a round that tied for the week’s low 18-hole score.

 

“I'm just very happy that I was able to stay bogey-free and make some really good up-and-downs and some clutch putts for par,” said Popov. “Obviously it was definitely more than I could have hoped for today, but I did make the key putts and shots when I had to, and I'm proud of them.”

 

Lee, a five-time LPGA Tour winner, had three birdies and one bogey for a 2-under 69 on Saturday, but rued birdie opportunities at 16 and 17 that somehow did not drop.

 

“I feel like I can maybe play a little bit more aggressively if the wind doesn't blow as much,” said Lee, who has three top-11 finishes at the AIG Women’s Open. “Maybe I can hole a couple putts out there.”

 

Like Lee, Jasmine or Thidapa carded a 2-under round on Saturday, making four birdies to two bogeys. A bogey at the closing hole dropped her from solo second into a tie, but the two-time LPGA Tour winner was more than happy with her round.

                                                              

“I didn't expect that I'm going to have a good score today,” said Jasmine, who has never missed the cut in her six championship appearances. “Even though it's not raining, it's still pretty windy out there, and then you can't really expect any good scores every day here. Just try to do your best out there and play golf.”

 

Germany’s Caroline Masson joins Americans Lindsey Weaver and Austin Ernst in a tie for fourth at +1. Two-time major champion Lydia Ko of New Zealand is tied for fifth at +2, joined by American Kristen Gillman and Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen.

 

Second-round leader Dani Holmqvist shot a 6-over 77 on Saturday and dropped from -1 to +5, in a tie for 19th.

 

WITH A WIN

Sophia Popov would be eligible to accept immediate LPGA Tour Membership; she was an LPGA Tour rookie in 2015, but lost her card after the 2019 season

 

Popov would become the first player from Germany to win a women’s major championship

 

Minjee Lee would earn her first major title, becoming the fourth player from Australia to win a women’s major championship, joining Hannah GreenJan Stephenson and Karrie Webb

 

With the $670,000 winner’s prize, Minjee Lee would move to $7,030,619 in career earnings and become the 37th player in LPGA Tour history to cross the $7 million threshold

 

Jasmine Suwannapura would become the second player from Thailand to win a major championship, joining Ariya Jutanugarn

 

WHIRLWIND MONTH FOR SOPHIA POPOV

A win tomorrow at the AIG Women’s Open would cap a whirlwind month for Sophia Popov, who lost her LPGA Tour Membership following the 2019 season and now has full 2020 status on the Symetra Tour. Popov started the LPGA Tour’s resumption by caddying for her best friend Anne van Dam four weeks ago at the LPGA Drive On Championship. The following week, Popov tied for ninth at the LPGA Tour’s Marathon LPGA Classic in Ohio, where she earned one of 10 qualifying spots for this week’s major.

 

Popov then flew to Arizona, where she tied for second at the Symetra Tour’s Founders Tribute at Longbow Golf Club. She finally traveled to Scotland on Monday and only had one practice round on Royal Troon before teeing it up in Thursday’s first round.

 

“When I came over here, I said to, me, the British was a bonus event because technically it was never on my schedule this year. So I was just excited and happy to be playing at all, and I said, you know, one practice round and let's get this going, and expectations were definitely not very high,” said Popov, who won three times on the Cactus Tour while the LPGA and Symetra Tours were suspended due to the coronavirus. “I do feel very comfortable out there. At the same time, I know where my game is at and I know that it is in a good spot, so I can be aggressive with my shots and you know, keep those expectations low, but I definitely know what I'm capable of, and so keep that in the back of my head.”

 

LINDSEY WEAVER FEELING SUPPORT FROM AFAR AT #AIGWO

Despite pushing her trolley for three weeks straight on the LPGA Tour, Lindsey Weaver said she feels no fatigue heading into the final round of the AIG Women’s Open. After an up-and-down day highlighted by a massive chip-in to save par from the rough on No. 12, Weaver finished at +1 overall and sits in a tie for fourth. She’s just five shots out of the lead, relentless as ever to stay in the hunt for a major title.

 

“It was pretty good. Didn't start off that great. I made bogey on 2 but quickly made birdie to recover on 4. So it was just playing pretty steady,” said Weaver. “It always bites to bogey the last, but other than that, it was a pretty good day I thought and just hope that I can continue it into tomorrow.”

 

Weaver’s fiancé, Korn Ferry Tour player Zach Wright, is currently competing across the ocean in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. Even with the time difference, the couple have continuously caught up before and after rounds, and Weaver is thankful they can still keep in touch while adjusting to their playing schedules.

 

“Yesterday on his commute to the golf course, which is about 45 minutes, he would watch on YouTube TV and he said he saw me play. So he watches while he's on his drive there, which is nice. But it's just a constant

 

balance, especially with the time change now, and I know like last week, he was in Boise and so we were seven hours apart and now we are five hours apart. It's a little more manageable, and it's always like he's finishing and I'm going to sleep and he's waking up and I'm on the golf course,” said Weaver. “It's kind of a weird dynamic. It's just nice to have someone there to support you and be able to talk about who can relate so well.”

 

PLAYER NOTES

Rolex Rankings No. 304 Sophia Popov (70-72-67)

  • She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 18 of 18 greens, with 33 putts
  • Popov’s third-round 67 is the only bogey-free round of the 2020 major; her 202 is her best 54-hole score in any major championship
  • Popov has 2020 Symetra Tour Membership; she tied for second at last week’s Founders Tribute at Longbow Golf Club in Arizona
  • This is Popov’s second event of the 2020 LPGA Tour season; she tied for ninth at the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana
  • This is Popov’s second appearance in the AIG Women’s Open; she finished 67th in 2011


Rolex Rankings No. 8 Minjee Lee (74-69-69)

  • Lee hit 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 30 putts
  • This is Lee’s sixth year on Tour; she has won five times on the LPGA Tour, most recently at the 2019 HUGEL AIR-PREMIA LA Open
  • This is her sixth event of the 2020 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is third at the LPGA Drive On Championship
  • This is Lee’s seventh appearance at the AIG Women’s Open; Her best finish is T9 in 2015 at Turnberry
  • Lee represented Australia in the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing T7
  • She is a three-time member of Team Australia at the UL International Crown


Rolex Rankings No. 138 Jasmine Suwannapura (71-72-69)

  • Suwannapura hit 11 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
  • This is in her ninth year on the LPGA Tour; she has two wins, most recently at the 2019 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational
  • This is her eighth event of the 2020 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is 17 at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions
  • This is Suwannapura’s sixth appearance at the AIG Women’s Open; her best finish is a tie for 11th in 2018 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes
  • She has one win on the Ladies European Tour, at the Hero Women’s Indian Open

Published : August 22, 2020