Healthier Sophia Popov Ready for 2016: Sophia Popov (Heidelberg, Germany) was so eager to begin her rookie season on the LPGA Tour in 2015 after a T11 finish at 2014 Qualifying Tournament.
Unfortunately, she suffers from chronic lower abdominal and stomach issues and was only about 60-70 percent at the start of the year and for much of the season.
Tour veteran Natalie Gulbis even urged Popov to consider a medical at the start of the season.
“With every doctor I went to, I thought I would get better and better, but lower abdominal and stomach issues are not something to mess with,” said Popov, who played on both the LPGA and Ladies European Tour and estimates travelling to over 10 countries in 2015. “I went from tournament to tournament and I never got better. In the end, it wasn’t good, but I learned my lesson.”
The good news is that Popov had a really good winter break and was able to figure some things out with her doctor back in Germany.
“I feel how I did in 2014 when I went to Q-School,” said the former USC All-American. “Swing wise I feel good and now it is just about getting it together between my ears. I feel confident that I can shoot low again and have a good year.”
She anticipates playing a full schedule on the Symetra Tour and is excited about less international travel. She may play a few LET events towards the end of the season.
The best news for Popov is that she gets to open the year in her home away from home, Southern California.
“I’ve realized that the west coast is the best coast and I love being back,” said Popov. “I saw my coach, I saw my teammates for a few practice rounds the last couple weeks and I’m moving to Phoenix, which puts me closer to my swing coach Jim Gormley out of Los Angeles. I feel like I’m shifting away from Germany, but I want to settle down somewhere. Last year was a little crazy, I have never flown that many miles in my life.”
Popov played in ten events on the LPGA and seven events on the LET last year.
In order to manage her condition, Popov has eliminated several things from her diet.
“I’m being really strict right now, I have to leave out chocolate, which is killer,” said Popov half jokingly. “There are like six or seven things that I really have to leave out. I can’t have tomatoes and I love pasta and sauces. It’s really anything that is acidic. I also have to go easy on salad dressings.”
Popov joked that she is eating five avocados a day trying to maintain weight while not being able to eat what she wants.
She is also working with a doctor out of Arizona that practices with homeopathic medicine.
“I’m not a huge fan of antibiotic medication from the results I saw last year, I don’t trust that path anymore,” said the 23-year-old Popov. “I’m trying to help my whole system recover from the surgery I had on my appendix in April. It didn’t get rid of all the pain. When I was flying all over the country, it was hard to recover.”
Now, with the 2016 here, Popov is excited to be healthy, aware of her issue and back on the course.
“I want to figure out who I am as a player and do my own thing on the Symetra Tour,” said Popov. “This is going to be fun because I see a lot of girls out here that I know from college. It will be good to just travel the states.”
Her best moment of 2015 might have been the opportunity to be part of the Solheim Cup broadcast team on German television. She was a communications major at USC and hopes to one day work as a commentator.
“I was commentating while they were playing with two other guys,” said the very well-spoken and charismatic Popov. “They needed a golf expert that was decent at talking and they picked me. I did some interviewing of the players too and it was really fun. I had the time of my life and I know now what I want to do after golf.”