The Florida’s Natural Charity Classic will be a homecoming of sorts for Davenport native Erica Popson. It’ll be the first time she has played in an event close to home since her days as a star on the Ridge Community High School golf team. Even when she went off to college at Tennessee, the closest event was at Florida State all the way in Tallahassee.
“I’m just ecstatic to be able to play close to home again,” said Popson, who will be part of the 144-player field competing at Lake Wales Country Club March 27-29. “It’s an incredible feeling.”
Popson was a two-time Polk County Player of the Year. She qualified for the state tournament all four years including her freshman year when Morgan Pressel won the Florida 1A state championship.
“In Florida, I was grateful to be able to play against some really good competition at the state level,” said Popson. “I remember my freshman year when Morgan won and then my sophomore year Vicky Hurst won.”
Popson had a stellar career at Tennessee. She won eight times, posted 18 top 10 finishes and 30 top 25 results. She was a 2011 National Golf Coaches Association First-Team All-American and a 2013 WGCA Second-Team All-American.
After college, she qualified for the LPGA Tour through LPGA Qualifying Tournament and played in 21 events including two major championships in 2014. She admits now that it was a tough transition.
“When I first started playing professionally, I didn’t think the travel was a big deal, but learning how to manage my caddy, hiring a new coach and travelling was a big adjustment and I didn’t quite fall into it as fast as I thought,” said Popson. “I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to play on the Symetra Tour this year to get my feet wet a little more so the next time I get to the LPGA, I will have a better understanding of how to succeed.”
Her mature mindset was crafted by mom, who didn’t let her play golf for two weeks every time she got a “B” or lower through high school. She graduated with a 3.5 GPA from Tennessee with degree in Sport Management and a minor in business.
Although she hopes she’ll be back on the LPGA Tour and enjoy a 15-year career, she has a back up plan ready.
She’d like to one-day coach college golf. For the girl that followed her dad to the course since age seven, there is no getting her away from the links.