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Sports News:
Sophia Popov shoots 64 to lead Pelican Women’s Championship

BELLEAIR, Fla. (AP) – Women’s British Open winner Sophia Popov left top-ranked enjoying accomplice Jin Young Ko and everybody else behind Thursday within the Pelican Women’s Championship.

Popov shot a 6-under 64 in windy situations to take a two-stro-ke lead over Ashleigh Buhai, with Ko eight photographs behind after a 72 in her first LPGA Tour begin of the yr.

Popov was the shock winner at Royal Troon in August.

“I think I’m playing with a different confidence level,” Popov stated. “You know, the shots are there. I always had them I felt like. I think mentally I’ve never felt as freed up as I do now. I don’t know if that’s from winning the tournament or just overall just having more fun out here. Having obviously an exemption for the next couple years just frees up the swing a little bit, my mindset, I can be a little bit more aggressive, and I think I just took advantage of that.”

At the tough Pelican Golf Club, the (*64*) birdied the final 5 holes for a front-nine 29, then cooled off on the again with two birdies and two bogeys – the final on the par-4 18th.

“I felt pretty confident coming into the round,” Popov stated. “Honestly, probably didn’t see that many birdies on my front. I thought with the wind the course is playing really tough, and surprised myself a little on that front nine. Tried to keep it going, but think the other nine is definitely tough and so I’m happy with my score.”

Buhai birdied three of the final 4 holes.

“You just have to stay patient, hit to the big parts of the green,” the South African stated. “I think in order to sho-ot a low score today, you got to have a hot putter, especially this afternoon. The greens firmed up a lot and it was difficult to get it close. That’s what I did. I made some good putts coming down. I hit it close on 17 and then holed a nice one on 18 for birdie.”

Ko, the No. 1 participant on the planet for the final 68 weeks, has been house in South Korea for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic. She plans to play three straight tournaments by means of the U.S. Women’s Open.

Ally McDonald, enjoying alongside Popov and Ko in a day threesome, was at 67 with Women’s PGA champion Sei Young Kim, the No. 2 participant on the planet.

“Honestly, my ball striking wasn’t that great,” McDonald stated. “I just felt like my timing was just a little bit off.”

McDonald received her first LPGA Tour title late month within the Drive On Championship-Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia.

Canadians Brooke Henderson and Alena Sharp and Australia’s Minjee Lee topped the group at 68.

“It’s definitely a tricky golf course,” Henderson stated. “You got to be careful out there. It can kind of jump up and bite you if you’re not paying attention, and especially with how windy it was earlier today.”

Local favourite Brittany Lincicome and Jessica Korda shot 69.

“A lot of the holes it seemed like it was a left-to-right wind, which being a draw player was just really messing with my swing,” Lincicome stated. “You have to miss it in the right spot, and I feel like I missed it in the wrong spot a few times.”

Lexi Thompson had a hole-in-one on the 162-yard third gap, her twelfth of the day.

“Hit a full 9-iron and it was kind of flagged right off the face,” Thompson stated. “I kind of went off a guy behind the green. He put his hands up. I couldn’t tell if it went in or not. But it’s a great feeling, even though there was only about ten people that saw it.”

She bogeyed three of the subsequent 4 holes in a 70.

U.S. Women’s Open champion Jeongeun Lee6, additionally making her return to the LPGA Tour, had a double bogey and two bogeys in a 73. She final performed the Women’s Australian Open in February earlier than the tour started shutting down its Asia swing due to the pandemic.

The first-year event was initially to be held the identical week because the PGA Championship in May.

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