Tuesday, August 25

The One Swing Thought That Enabled Sophia Popov to Pull Off Her Shocking Victory at the Women's Open

IF YOU FOLLOW PROFESSIONAL GOLF, you've surely heard about that unlikely outcome at the AIG Women's Open at Royal Troon.

Ranked No. 304 in the world, Sophia Popov, a mini-tour player who had lost her LPGA status, slept on the 54-hole lead Saturday night and then went out and fired a 3-under 68 in the final round to win the Open by two shots. Popov played with resolve down the stretch, hitting fairways and greens -- and holing putt after putt -- as if she was Annika Sorenstam.

It's a great story because it's so rare to see an unheralded player such as Popov win a major out of seemingly nowhere. The USC grad hit shots under pressure that seasoned veterans dream about.

How did she do it?

Golf.com's Zephyr Melton wrote about the one swing thought that kept Popov at the top of the leaderboard:
Every time it looked as though Popov would falter, she steadied the ship. Each errant shot was followed with poise. And there's one key swing thought she relied on to keep the ship righted: "just swing aggressively."
The tendency under pressure for many players can be to go into protection mode. Not for Popov. She kept her foot to the pedal and didn't let up until she walked up the storied 18th with the tournament result decided. She vowed to stay aggressive. 
"Honestly that's the only way for me," Popov said. "When I get a little tentative, I hang them out to the right."
Popov's life-changing victory put $675,000 in her pocket and gives her a five-year exemption on the LPGA Tour.

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