Sophia Popov’s one major expense and her return to major competition
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – You have to be careful with stereotypes. Somebody says something, you think something, but it’s best to not react.
So when Sophia Popov said that she had no big plans for her $675,000 winner’s share from the Women’s Open, the immediate, internal reaction was: Aren’t Germans pragmatic regarding their finances?
Thankfully, that wasn’t a terrible typecast as Popov then said, “German people save all their money and then one day they pass it on to their kids or something. That’s probably what’s going to end up happening. Save for college funds and everything.”
Popov doesn’t yet have kids and isn’t married, which means there is availability for extravagance. But the 28-year-old, who is competing in her first major since winning her first major, has splurged on just one thing.
“You know what, I bought myself a TrackMan,” Popov said ahead of this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. “That was a dream of mine, and I couldn’t really afford it before. I was, like, I really want one, and I always had to go see my coach to go get some numbers, and now I finally have one, so I’m really excited about that.
“All the other stuff I kind of let it come to me. I’m not typically someone who just goes out – I’m not a big shopper.”
Popov became one of the most shocking major champions in golf history when, as the 304th-ranked player in the world, she won the Women’s Open in August. She wasn’t eligible to compete in the ANA Inspiration and made her return to competition nearly a month later in Portland. She tied for 24th there and tied for 43rd last week at the ShopRite.
Life is different for a major champion and Popov is trying to adjust. She’s enjoyed the downtime to celebrate with her family in both Germany and Arizona (“The coolest five weeks of my life,” she said.), and now, more confident than ever, she looks to prove her performance at Royal Troon was no fluke.
Aronimink Golf Club will be a different challenge (Popov said she’s getting accustomed to hitting hybrids into greens because of the length and early-morning chill) but one that she is looking forward to.
“[O]verall, I think it’s an amazing golf course. It sets up well, I think, for my game. I hit it decently long, so I think that plays in my favor, and some good greens – huge greens. I feel like you can have about 300 different kinds of putts on there,” she said.
And when she arrives at the 10th tee, her first of the championship, at 12:56 p.m. ET on Thursday and is announced as a major champion, at a major championship, will it feel surreal?
“You know,” she said, “I feel like it’s never going to quite sink in.”
Germans are pragmatic (Popov said so).