“I went to school till 2014, and positively with the intention of doing one thing else after my golf profession. And I feel final 12 months that turned very actual so far as doubtlessly trying into doing one thing else.
“After I misplaced LPGA standing final 12 months, it was the primary time in 5 years that I’ve absolutely misplaced my standing, since gaining it in 2015. And I feel that basically made it very actual for me so far as: ‘Okay what are the selections that I’ll make now?'”
Then the whole lot modified. Ranked 304th on the planet, Popov received the Ladies’s British Open in August.
“That is the largest verify I’ve ever gotten at a event. When it hit the checking account, at first I am pondering: ‘Gosh, criminality?’ What is going on on? This cannot be proper,'” mentioned the 28-year-old, as she mirrored on her $675,000 win.
“However then I noticed it sit there, and I’m going: ‘Properly, that is what you’ve gotten labored for six years. This isn’t a paycheck for one week of taking part in. That is for all of the work you place in because you graduated faculty, and even earlier than then. All of the work that you have put in your entire life, simply to get to that second.'”
READ: Michelle Wie West’s retirement ideas modified by having a child woman
Within the aftermath of her two-shot victory at Royal Troon in Scotland — which helped her to leap 280 spots in golf’s world rankings from 304 to 24, the biggest single-week leap for a participant in historical past — Popov advised CNN Sport’s Patrick Snell in regards to the challenges she’d confronted in her profession.
“My rookie 12 months in 2015, I began having quite a lot of ache and quite a lot of totally different signs. If I counted all of them up, I might most likely be at like 14 several types 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 may carry out the way in which that I did throughout faculty or earlier than I obtained sick.”
After a prolonged analysis search, Popov was lastly advised 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 out to be much more frequent.
Fever, chills, physique aches, swollen lymph nodes, neck stiffness, shortness of breath, headache, fatigue and a rash are all typical signs of Lyme illness.
As a result of the illness can typically have an effect on individuals in several methods — Popov says she heard from many alternative athletes who advised her how “horrible” Lyme illness will 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 via a lot medicine and so many surgical procedures in 5 years that I felt like I needed to method it a little bit 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 weight-reduction plan that will work for me, that will make me higher.”
READ: Impressed by BTS and the custom of Tiger Woods: Meet first-time main winner Kim Sei-Younger
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 pal and fellow golfer, Anne van Dam, at a event after which Popov performed the Marathon Basic, 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 Basic to qualify.’ After which I noticed what had simply occurred, and that I had certified, and went via all of the steps of signing up.”
READ: Emily Kristine Pedersen is a star on the rise after back-to-back Tour wins
A brand new type of strain
Going into the ultimate day of a significant with a lead, Popov says that Sunday morning on the Ladies’s British Open was “most likely probably the most nervous” she had ever been “on the golf course and off the course.”
“I awoke fairly early, 6:30ish, though I had a 1:45 tee time, and I feel these are probably the most grueling six hours which you could undergo till you begin your warmup, since you’re simply occupied with what is going on to occur and that entire spherical.
“So I feel it was essential for me to only say: ‘Hey, regular routine. Go to breakfast.’ I wasn’t in a position to eat loads due to the nerves, however type of simply undergo the identical course of that you simply 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 chill out.
Regardless of coming beneath 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 totally different levels that you simply undergo the place you notice. The primary one is earlier than you even make that final putt. I knew: ‘It is a complete game-changer for me.’
“In so many respects, however I feel that particularly in the case of my golf sport and the arrogance that I’ll 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, virtually, on the golf course.
“After which the weeks that comply with after, it is all of the issues, all of the media requests that are available in, all of the congratulatory messages, all of that, you actually have had two to a few weeks to essentially soak it in and simply … I do not know, simply take pleasure in it, as a result of I feel golfers or athletes basically are usually those who simply type of transfer on actually rapidly.
Go to CNN.com/sport for extra information, options, and movies
“It is like: ‘Okay, you had success? Nice. No matter. Let’s transfer on.’ And I feel I actually took that point to really take pleasure in it, after which with on daily basis that handed, each time I seemed on the trophy, it simply turned extra actual each time I checked out it, and I feel 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 occupied with whether or not I wished to place myself via that grind once more or whether or not it was virtually taking the straightforward method out perhaps by trying into doing one thing else.”
Conor Powell contributed to this.