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Finally getting her desert start, Sophia Popov enjoying ANA Inspiration debut

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Sophia Popov was a part of two of the largest tales on the LPGA final yr. First, she gained her first main title on the AIG Women’s Open in Britain in August. Then she didn’t get to play within the ANA Inspiration regardless of the most important victory.

The difficulty was that the ANA Inspiration, initially scheduled for April, froze its area to what would have been the April gamers, although the match was delayed till September by the coronavirus pandemic. But when Popov gained the Open, usually incomes an automated berth to the subsequent enjoying of the ANA Inspiration, the German star who performed faculty golf at USC discovered herself on the surface of the sector.

That scenario triggered a change within the guidelines for the LPGA, however Popov is lastly within the desert this week for the primary of her 5 assured begins within the first main of the yr.

ANA Inspiration: Leaderboard | Photos

“You know, with good play you’re actually having fun, so, so far it’s been awesome,” Popov mentioned after a second-round 3-under 69 put her among the many second-day leaders. “It’s kind of what I hoped for. I watched this tournament so many times. Been here, watched my former teammates play.

“Yeah, it’s an amazing course, obviously in really good condition and I’m playing I guess up to my expectations, so that’s good,” Popov added.

Bad information for the sector?

Here’s some unsettling information for the remainder of the sector within the ANA Inspiration this week: Inbee Park thinks her placing is getting higher.

Long generally known as among the best putters on the LPGA—if not the most effective–Park cruised to victory last week at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad. But she believes to date her week on the ANA Inspiration is exhibiting enchancment in her placing.

“I have been rolling it much better this week definitely, because, I mean, the green conditions are so much better and my speed is a lot better this week,” Park mentioned. “It’s probably the same condition for everybody. I had some good putts last week, but I also missed a lot of short ones last week, which everybody probably does. This week, I feel like I’m holing them much better.”

Sticking round this yr

Dani Holmqvist of Sweden knew that some day she would like to tee it up within the ANA. When she lastly had her first likelihood final yr, it led to a disappointing withdrawal due to a again damage.

“This has been the major I was looking forward to the most just watching on TV growing up,” Holmqvist mentioned. “Last year was tough and I played (with) one of my better friends on tour, and she walked up to me after 12 holes and said, ‘Dani, I see that you really want to do this, but you can’t do this to yourself.’

“So it was tough memories,” Holmqvist mentioned. “It was nice walking past her (Thursday), hitting a drive past the place I withdrew.”

Unkind reduce

Michelle Wie West, making her return to the ANA this week for the primary time since 2019, is likely to be the best-known golfer to overlook the reduce within the main championship this week. Wie fired a 2-under 70 in Thursday’s opening spherical, however stumbled out of the gate with three bogeys on her first three holes on the way in which to a 79 on Friday. That left the previous U.S. Women’s Open champion at 7-over 151, lacking the reduce by 4 photographs.

Wie West mentioned it wasn’t simply her golf recreation that wants work.

“Making the right decision takes practice, too,” she mentioned. “That’s something that is hard to practice when you aren’t playing, and that’s probably where the rust really showed. That being said, I had some really good up and downs today that I’m definitely proud of.”

Other gamers lacking the reduce included previous ANA champions Yani Tseng and Morgan Pressel.

Larry Bohannan is The Desert Sun golf author. He will be reached at (760) 778-4633 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @Larry_Bohannan. Support native journalism: Subscribe to the Desert Sun.

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