It was a week of dominant performances in the golf world. Whether you were rooting for the stars or the underdogs, Sunday had it all.
“I almost quit playing last year. Thank God I didn’t”
The 2020 AIG Women’s Open was must-see TV this week. Rain and wind battered Royal Troon for the first three rounds before laying down on Sunday. In the end, Sophia Popov, a 27-year-old Symetra Tour member who qualified for the Women’s Open two weeks ago, stood alone. Popov never left the top three spots on the leaderboard, going 70-72-67 before a phenomenal final round of 68. A stress-free bogey on the 72nd hole gave her a two-shot victory. AIG Women’s Open Results
Sophia Popov entered the Women’s Open at No. 304 in the Rolex Rankings. A four-time All-American at USC, Popov had struggled as a pro. Last year, she even considered quitting. But she kept battling, making it into the Marathon LPGA Classic earlier this month and finishing T-9 to earn her trip to Scotland.
Popov’s play this weekend was extraordinary. Drivers off the deck, recoveries out of the junk, clutch putts down the stretch: you name it, she had it in the bag. Not only did she persevere through fierce weather and beat a field brimming with the world’s best, but she also became the lowest-ranked player to win a women’s major championship. Popov entered the week with just over $100,000 in career earnings; she walked away from Royal Troon with a $675,000 check. The win also gets her onto the LPGA Tour and into majors for years to come. It’s no exaggeration to say that this was a life-changing performance by Sophia Popov—and a thrilling one to witness.
The Victory Club
Sophia Popov’s victory at the AIG Women’s Open probably has you itching for more major championship golf. Patience, young grasshopper: it’s just a few weeks until the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. In the meantime, get ready by joining the U.S. Open Victory Club! This free club gives you access to exclusive interviews with USGA champions, discounts on U.S. Open merchandise, and virtual fan experiences during the event at Winged Foot.
It was Dustin Johnson’s week on the PGA Tour. The 36-year-old vet fired rounds of 67-60-64-63 at TPC Boston, finishing 11 shots ahead of second place and 15 clear of T-8. Yeah, it wasn’t even close. The highlight of DJ’s week came on Friday, when he started the second round -11 through 11 holes. He ultimately “settled” for a 60. The Northern Trust Results
This is Johnson’s 22nd PGA Tour victory, but he’s still stuck at one major. He’ll likely finish his career with 25-30 tour wins—an incredible accomplishment, especially in this extremely competitive era. But if he doesn’t add to his major championship total, he will never be considered one of the all-time greats. Still, DJ is a generational talent. When he plays as brilliantly as he did this week, we should make sure to appreciate it.
Romain Langasque overcame a five-stroke deficit to win the ISPS HANDA Wales Open this weekend. It’s the 25-year-old Frenchman’s first European Tour victory. Results
Aside from Sophia Popov, who finished at -7, just three women broke par at Royal Troon this weekend: Jasmine Suwannapura, Minjee Lee, and Inbee Park. Austin Ernst shot a final-round 70 to round out the top five.
In other news from the Women’s Open, Lexi Thompson got embroiled in yet another rules controversy. This time she was exonerated—though not without some lingering questions about the state of “golf’s most basic tenet.”
It’s never fun to shoot 59 and lose. Trust us, we know.* But that’s what Scottie Scheffler did this week. The 24-year-old Texan shot the 12th 59 in PGA Tour history on Friday yet ended up T-4 at TPC Boston, 13 shots back of a fireball named DJ. On the plus side, the high finish likely makes Scheffler a lock for East Lake, and it certainly helps his already strong case for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. (*We don’t know.)
Webb Simpson continued his mind-boggling consistency with a T-8 at the Northern Trust. He now has nine top 10s on the season.
It was too little, too late, but Tiger Woods closed out the Northern Trust with an encouraging 66, which boosted him to T-58.
Two years ago at TPC Boston, Justin Thomas offered some fascinating opinions on Gil Hanse’s design. This year, he waded into the rollback debate, saying, “[I]t makes me cringe and it really bothers me when whoever says that, you know, the golf ball or everything needs to be rolled back because there’s plenty of people that are still performing well that don’t hit it as far.” Brendon Todd (281.0 driving distance this season), Collin Morikawa (296.1), and Webb Simpson (296.3) were his examples of high-performing short-knockers who prove that his equipment sponsor shouldn’t have to change a thing.
Plenty of big names failed to qualify for the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Among them: Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, and Tommy Fleetwood.
After missing the cut at TPC Boston and failing to qualify for the BMW Championship, 50-year-old Phil Mickelson is off to the Champions Tour. He’ll play at the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National Monday through Wednesday.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Shotgun Start: The Return to Podcasting
“Back on the mic, Andyyyyyyy Johnsonnn!” New father Andy rejoins the Shotgun Start for this Monday episode and he comes prepared with an agitated Playoffs rant after a week of sleepless nights. But Brendan and Andy first begin with the Women’s Open and the amazing story of Sophia Popov. They discuss the thrill of watching Troon each morning and the guts of Popov, who had no status, offering no quarter to any chasers all weekend. What has made the women’s game so appealing in the restart and potentially much more successful going forward? There’s also a lengthy debate on another Lexi Thompson rules controversy, this one from Troon. At the Northern Trust, they hail DJ’s legendary performance as he truly separated himself from the rest of the field but lament him ending the run of Brian Gay being the last double-digit winner on Tour. They also discuss Justin Thomas’ quotes on rolling back the ball and Tiger and Rory’s quotes on being uninspired and lacking an advantage with no fans in attendance. Andy gets off a Playoffs tirade and how the name *must* be changed. They wrap with some thoughts on Phil playing the Champions Tour and a pronunciation guide for Euro Tour winner Romain Langasque. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.