Sophia Popov didn’t quit. Even when nobody would have blamed her if she had.
Because of her perseverance, she is now a major champion with full playing status on the LPGA Tour, having won the Women’s Open last weekend at Royal Troon in Scotland.
Up until very recently, Popov could at best be described as an aspiring tour player – having never gained more than conditional status on the LPGA Tour from 2015 – 2019. Also:
- She missed securing her tour card by one stroke at the 2019 LPGA Tour Q School.
- Her only option this past Spring (2020) was to play Cactus Tour events in Arizona. (She did win three times in April and May, but only collected $8,800 total in winnings.)
- She earned a spot to play in the 2020 Women’s Open by placing ninth at the Marathon Classic in Toledo, OH in early August.
- She was ranked 304th in the world going into the Women’s Open.
During the trophy presentation at Royal Troon, Popov said: “I almost quit playing last year. Thank God I didn’t.”
Turns out that a big part of her struggle over the past six years has been a battle with Lyme disease which went undiagnosed for a long period of time. Wow.
Her story speaks to me because of some challenges I have had this season…and reminded me that there are likely many others on the Single Plane Swing journey who are working through challenge and struggle as well.
Let me explain:
An old shoulder injury reappeared for me this year – a lead-side shoulder AC impingement – which affects my ability to move into the impact position properly.
While I have been able to produce a swing that looks as close to the model as ever, when it comes to playing on the course and hitting a ball on the turf, my condition has led to some pretty sketchy ball striking.
I’ve posted some decent scores – the short game has been solid at times. (Have you tried the new Callaway Jaws wedges…I highly recommend!!) But the ball-striking just has not been there – and honestly, it has been a challenge for me mentally. (Ok…maybe frustrating is a better word.)
On my good days, even when I am not playing well, I enjoy being out there – practicing or playing. But on my bad days, I wonder why the heck I am doing this.
I’ve even thought about putting the clubs down for a while. (You know…screw 2020. All of it. … and look ahead to 2021.)
Like you, I want to be able to hit the ball pure. I want to KNOW where the ball is going when I hit it. And I want to know that it will fly the distance I envisioned for it. ( …is that too much to ask? J )
So, when Popov said: “I almost quit playing last year. Thank God I didn’t”, I absolutely got it. And it inspired me to examine my own thinking about where I am at right now… and where I want to go.
I decided to revisit some truths.
The truth is that I am NOT striking the ball great right now.
But it is also true that I have made SIGNIFICANT strides in replicating the Single Plane Swing model. I can take this swing model progress and build on it…knowing that as I get myself in better physical shape to hit the ball, I WILL get to where I want to be.
The truth is that I have made progress with my shoulder…and if I stay on my physio plan, I will be much more comfortable hitting shots again very soon.
The truth is that I am NOT my golf game. Even though I think that I am sometimes.
And the truth is that Sophia Popov has reminded me that this game ACTUALLY DOES FEEL LIKE STRUGGLE sometimes. But that through struggle, growth is possible. And sometimes – when we break through struggle – we achieve heights we could not have dreamed of.
So, now I am re-dedicated to the plan. Ready to embrace and enjoy the process back to better ball striking. All of it.
And if you are struggling at all – I encourage you to take Sophia Popov’s story to heart. Perhaps it will create some fresh thinking for you, just as it did for me.