• Alistair Tait

Raining on Popov’s parade


Golf has a habit of shooting itself in the foot. It’s happened again with the news Sophia Popov won’t get a five-year LPGA exemption after all for her AIG Women’s Open win at Royal Troon.

After her fairy tale victory, Popov was told she had not only secured a lifetime exemption to the Women’s Open, but a five-year LPGA pass.

Happy days for a player who had considered quitting the game a year ago. The five-year exemption probably meant more than the $675,000 first place prize. Not any more after the LPGA read the fine print in its rules.

The LPGA has decreed the American born German will get just a one-year exemption. She’s free to play as much as she likes this year, plus one-year for the greatest win of her life, one of the greatest stories in major championship golf.

Talk about raining on Popov’s parade?

Honestly! Sometimes you just can’t make up the things that happen in our great game.

Seems since Popov wasn’t an LPGA member, but a Symetra Tour member, she isn’t eligible for the five-year exemption. Doesn’t seem to matter that she spent four years as an LPGA member before missing her card for a fifth year by a single shot and having to drop down to the Symetra Tour.

“The only reason why I really feel this way is because I had already played so many seasons on the LPGA Tour,” she told Golf.com. “I felt like, really? Just because I finished one shot short of getting my status last year at Q-Series, you’re going to take away four of the years I should have gotten?”

Popov managed to contain what must be inner fury after hearing the news when she added:

“I definitely got a little bit frustrated about the whole thing. It’s tough because I feel like I deserve the full five years of exemption from the LPGA but, at the same time, I understand the regulations and the fact that they can’t change the rules for a certain player."
“It’s a tough situation because I know they’re on my side and they support me and they want that for me too, but they have to be fair to all players and all of the major winners, so I do also understand their perspective.”

Er, not so. The LPGA has amended its rules in the past to get younger players on tour despite a minimum age requirement. Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson both benefitted from the LPGA making exceptions to its regulations.

Quite why the LPGA can’t make an exception for Popov on this occasion is strange. No wonder the decision has caused consternation. Paul McGinley tweeted:

“These are times for sensitivity & adaptability in a crazy world. Come on @LPGA and find a way to compromise here. She did so much for your Tour and for ladies’ golf last week.”

Andrew “Beef” Johnston chipped in with:

WHHAAAT are u joking? Sort that @LPGA. Madness man."

And then added:

“Everyone in golf needs to lean on @LPGA

The LPGA says it can’t amend its rules, and Popov is considering making an appeal. She shouldn’t have to. If ever equity needed to come into play, then this is the time. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan needs to take Johnston’s advice and sort this out.

As for golf shooting itself in the foot on a continual basis…..don’t get me started!

The curse continues

Add Ruben Lindsay’s name to the list of number one seeds who’ve suffered the Amateur Championship curse. The Scottish player entered the match play draw at Royal Birkdale as number one seed and promptly lost his opening match 2&1 to Finland’s Ilari Saulo.

Lindsay is in in good company. He joins European Tour winners Stephen Gallacher, Nick Dougherty, Richard Finch, and a host of others to finish leading qualifier and lose in the first head-to-head contest. If Lindsay comes close to matching the careers of Gallacher et al, then he’ll soon forget this year’s Amateur Championship.

#JustSaying: “Golf is not a game of perfect.” Bob Rotella


Photograph courtesy of the Ladies European Tour

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