Sophia Popov has become the only female German to ever win a Major golf tournament. By Harriet Shephard.
Image: Getty Images - By Harriet Shephard
Well, what an incredible day of absolutely brilliant golf.
It was a wet start to the final round of the AIG Women's Open at Royal Troon.
But the wind that been raging throughout the first few days properly dropped off and the conditions were generally the calmest they had been all week.
This let the players really get stuck into some low scoring and birdie making, and by now you have probably already heard the fairytale-esque story of the winner who emerged at the end of it.
Going into the final day Germany's Sophia Popov was leading by three shots at -4 with Australia's Minjee Lee and Thailand's Jasmine Suwannapura hot on her heels at -1.
She bogied the first, but then quickly made up for it with birdies on the 2nd and 3rd. This then brought her down to -5 by the 5th hole.
Her third birdie through six then brought her to -6, and from that point she was unstoppable.
Two more birdies through 15 and 16 basically sealed the deal, and although the runners up gave it a good go, especially Suwannapura, her talent and skill couldn't be riva'led.
After an incredible 18 holes she was named as champion at -7 and two strokes ahead of her Thai rival.
Completing her final hole, Sophia broke down in tears as she hugged playing partner Minjee Lee (who finished third at -3) and her caddy and boyfriend Mex Mehles (also a German aspiring pro golfer).
It really was a life-changing moment for the 27-year-old who narrowly missed out on getting her LPGA card for 2020 and up until now has only won on mini tours.
To have her first win as the 2020 AIG Women's Champion is really incredible.
Making it even more special is the fact that she now becomes the first German woman to EVER win a Major golf tournament.
Sophia started the season by caddying for best pal Anne Van Dam at the Drive On Championship, an experience that helped her a lot.
"I kind of fed off of her energy a lot," she said.
"It was very interesting to see the course being played from a different perspective; the way she hits it, obviously she's a bomber. She's been a big influence on me for the last like four or five months. Just keeping my head in it and basically telling me that I'm capable of doing this, and she's just been probably one of my biggest like cheerleaders out there."
Before this week she was ranked World No. 304 but we can see her rising to the top of the list very quickly now.
What a fantastic story and a fantastic winner for the biggest golf event to happen in the UK this year.
After collecting her trophy (she will also claim the $675,000 first place prize), she said:
“It is an incredible story, something I could not dream of a week ago. It is incredible that golf allows these things to happen and as one of 144 players this week, I just happened to have the week of my life. It is probably the best golf I have ever played.”
"I almost quit playing a year ago. Thank God I didn't."
We couldn't be more thrilled for her.
Other highlights from the final round include...
Suwannapura put up a good fight
Thailand's Jasmine Swannapura may have a sweet smile, but she seemed more determined than ever to overtake Sophia today.
She birdied four holes in a row through 4 to 7, and at that point Popov must have been getting worried. But two bogies brought her down slightly and she finished two shots off the lead and five under.
Yet again she braved it in a skort, paired with a brilliant Scottish-themed tartan printed top - we love it!
Jasmine also has her own inspiring story as four years ago she had a back injury and doctors warned that without surgery she wouldnt be able to walk again. Since then she has won twice.
Mel Reid came home in style
The feisty English player only just made the cut going into Round 3 but over the last two days she's played beautifully.
Her return back to the clubhouse on the 18th was particularly spectacular, hitting it so close to the pin with a fantastic shot with her five iron and making a birdie.
She ended T39 saying on Twitter that she loved playing Royal Troon and that it was a "nice way to finish." We bet it was!
Michele Thomson proved she has no time for slow play
The Scot made her AIG Women's Open this week and loved every minute.
Playing with friend Johanna Gustavsson they went round in just three hours and 12 minutes, and finished with the next group still four holes behind.
When I spoke to the Aberdeen star after her round she was beaming and clearly buzzing from her fantastic experience.
She finished +22 but shot a number of birdies throughout her four days in incredibly different conditions.
Of course making the cut at this Major tournament is an amazing thing in itself, and the Paul Lawrie Golf Club player should be so proud of herself.
"It's been amazing, I've had such a good week. To be able to play four rounds has been incredible. Obviously it's a bit eerie with nobody here but I've had a great time. We sprinted round today and playing with Joanna was so enjoyable, we've played a lot together. I couldn't have asked for anything better this week, except for maybe having my family here. It's disappointing that they couldn't watch my first one but hopefully there will be many more."
Another boost for the women's game
Next time anyone claims women's golf is slow or boring, just make them watch the highlights from this outstanding tournament at Royal Troon.
It was so fast paced they all finished half an hour ahead of schedule during Round 3.
It's been so brilliant from start to finish and an absolute triumph for women's golf; we can't wait for next year at Carnoustie.
View the final leaderboard HERE.