“I went to varsity till 2014, and positively with the intention of doing one thing else after my golf profession. And I believe final yr that turned very actual so far as probably trying into doing one thing else.
“After I misplaced LPGA standing final yr, it was the primary time in 5 years that I’ve totally misplaced my standing, since gaining it in 2015. And I believe that actually made it very actual for me so far as: ‘Okay what are the choices that I will make now?'”
Then every thing modified. Ranked 304th on the earth, Popov received the Ladies’s British Open in August.
“However then I noticed it sit there, and I’m going: ‘Effectively, that is what you’ve got labored for six years. This isn’t a paycheck for one week of taking part in. That is for all of the work you set in because you graduated school, and even earlier than then. All of the work that you’ve got put in your entire life, simply to get to that second.'”
Table of Contents
“My rookie yr in 2015, I began having quite a lot of ache and quite a lot of completely different signs. If I counted all of them up, I might in all probability be at like 14 various kinds of signs, and really debilitating.
“Not having the ability to play, being very fatigued, additionally mentally, type of placing me in a really dangerous spot as a result of I did not really feel as if I might carry out the way in which that I did throughout school or earlier than I acquired sick.”
After a prolonged prognosis search, Popov was lastly instructed she had Lyme illness.
Lyme illness is the most typical illness attributable to ticks within the US, and with the local weather disaster it could turn into much more frequent.
As a result of the illness can usually have an effect on folks in numerous methods — Popov says she heard from many alternative athletes who instructed her how “horrible” Lyme illness could be — the German, who was born within the US, determined to take her rehabilitation into her personal arms.
“I did all my very own analysis, and sure, I did see some medical doctors, however to me it was all about … I’ve gone by way of a lot medicine and so many surgical procedures in 5 years that I felt like I needed to method it slightly bit extra from a pure standpoint, as a result of I knew one other set of antibiotics was not going to do the job.
“So it was actually hours of researching and determining a food plan that might work for me, that might make me higher.”
A shock entry
Probability performed an enormous half in Popov even competing on the 2020 Ladies’s British Open.
She had caddied for her greatest buddy and fellow golfer, Anne van Dam, at a event after which Popov performed the Marathon Traditional, in Toledo, Ohio in early July, ending within the high 10 which, unknown to her, certified her for the British Open.
“After I completed my spherical, I signed my scorecard, and Anne offers me a name, a FaceTime name, and she or he’s simply yelling into the telephone, and she or he’s like: ‘You certified for the Open!’ And I used to be like: ‘What?’ It wasn’t even on my radar.
“I hadn’t even thought of that in any respect, and I simply realized, I mentioned: ‘Oh, nice! The highest 10 gamers that aren’t already certified for the Open, have the Marathon Traditional to qualify.’ After which I noticed what had simply occurred, and that I had certified, and went by way of all of the steps of signing up.”
A brand new type of strain
Going into the ultimate day of a serious with a lead, Popov says that Sunday morning on the Ladies’s British Open was “in all probability probably the most nervous” she had ever been “on the golf course and off the course.”
“I awoke fairly early, 6:30ish, although I had a 1:45 tee time, and I believe these are probably the most grueling six hours you could undergo till you begin your warmup, since you’re simply enthusiastic about what is going on to occur and that entire spherical.
“So I believe it was essential for me to only say: ‘Hey, regular routine. Go to breakfast.’ I wasn’t in a position to eat lots due to the nerves, however type of simply undergo the identical course of that you just all the time undergo.”
She admits that after that first tee shot of the ultimate spherical, Popov settled into her routine and was in a position to loosen up.
Regardless of coming underneath strain from Thai participant Thidapa Suwannapura, Popov was in a position to shoot a three-under par 68 to assert an emotional debut main victory and obtain that “life altering second.”
“There are completely different levels that you just undergo the place you notice. The primary one is earlier than you even make that final putt. I knew: ‘This can be a complete game-changer for me.’
“In so many respects, however I believe that particularly in the case of my golf recreation and the arrogance that I will take out of that week, and who I’m now on the golf course versus who I used to be earlier than. So there is a earlier than and after Sophia, nearly, on the golf course.
“After which the weeks that observe after, it is all of the issues, all of the media requests that are available, all of the congratulatory messages, all of that, you actually have had two to 3 weeks to actually soak it in and simply … I do not know, simply get pleasure from it, as a result of I believe golfers or athletes normally are typically those that simply type of transfer on actually shortly.
“It is like: ‘Okay, you had success? Nice. No matter. Let’s transfer on.’ And I believe I actually took that point to truly get pleasure from it, after which with each day that handed, each time I regarded on the trophy, it simply turned extra actual each time I checked out it, and I believe that is only a pure course of.”
Regardless of the highs and lows of her profession, Popov says she all the time knew she was able to doing.
“It was simply whether or not actually simply enthusiastic about whether or not I wished to place myself by way of that grind once more or whether or not it was nearly taking the simple method out possibly by trying into doing one thing else.”
Conor Powell contributed to this.