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Chien, Popov Qualify For US Women’s Open Championship at Canoe Brook Country Club

Sophia Popov (NJSGA1900)

Sophia Popov (NJSGA1900)


78 golfers started Tuesday morning with a dream. On Tuesday night, two golfers realized their dream will come true in July.

Pei-Yun Chien of Rancho Santa Fe, California and Sophia Popov of Naples, Florida each earned top medalist honors in today’s U.S. Women’s Open Championship Sectional Qualifying, a one-day, 36-holes stroke play competition, at Canoe Brook Country Club’s North Course in Summit, New Jersey.

Chien (2-under, 76-66–142) and Popov (2-under, 71-71–142) both punched their first-ever tickets to the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship, to be played at CordeValle in San Martin, California on July 7-10.

Chien, a second-year LPGA player, shot a 4-over 76 in the morning on her first 18 holes and after lunch, fired a blistering 6-under 66 with birdies on her 1st three holes of the afternoon on 1, 2, 3, and four more birdies on the back nine on 12, 13, 14, and for good measure, 18. Her lone bogey of the afternoon was on the 15th hole.

“This will be the first major for me,” said Chien, who was the leading Taiwan pro the previous two years and is currently ranked 10th on the Symetra Tour. “I couldn’t get the speed of the greens down because of the English I put on my shots. I three-putted my first two holes to start the day.”

The 23-year-old Popov, also a member of the Symetra Tour, shot a 1-under 71 on her first 18 holes (good for second place after the morning session), but struggled on her front nine in the afternoon (starting on the 10th hole) with bogeys on the 11th and 13th holes.

However, Popov responded and came back on the back nine with birdies on the 2nd hole (after a bogey on the 1st), 5th, 6th, and the 8th to finish tied for first place honors.

“I’m a little overwhelmed right now. Super excited would probably describe it best,” Popov said. “On the back nine in the afternoon, I didn’t want to leave the course without at least fighting a little and I just decided to play very aggressively and it worked out well.”

Popov is a native of Germany who holds dual citizenships with her father is a Germany national and her mother, Claudia, is an American from Boston. Popov is also an alternate for the German Olympic team for the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil later this summer.

Popov had an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Southern California, earning National Freshman of the Year in 2011 and was part of USC’s national championship team in 2013 that included Livingston (NJ)-native Karen Chung and Long Island’s Annie Park, the National Player of the Year.

Popov had a breakthrough onto the LPGA Tour in 2015, but had lost 20 pounds when she spent a month in the hospital due to a dietary problem.

“I’m about 90 percent back to where I was. My drives are pretty long, which makes it easier for me. My shots to the green are pretty good so a long course like this suits me. Most of my problems are around the greens. I’m not confident with my wedge game, but it is getting there. I was nervous on the last hole because, I knew I needed a par there and I made it,” said Popov, who boasts three sponsors in Allianz Insurance, Puma, and Cobra.

And what did Popov do to celebrate the occasion?

“I’m driving up to Boston tonight for my next event, which starts Friday (Symetra Tour’s W.B. Mason Championship in Brockton, Massachusetts).”

Jenny Coleman of Rolling Hills Estate, California finished in third with a 1-under 143 (72-71) and Aurora Kan (a) of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania finished fourth with a 1-over 145 (70-75) and will be the two alternates out of the Summit Sectional for the U.S. Women’s Open.


New Jersey golfers scores: Lois Kaye Go (a), South Orange, +4 (74-74–148); Kelly Sim (a), Edgewater, +7 (75-76–151); Anina Ku (a), Basking Ridge, +12 (77-79–156); Christina Parsells (a), Bernardsville, +15 (85-76–159); Katie Lee (a), Ringoes, +15 (83-76–159); Noelle Maertz (a), Clark, +15 (79-80–159); Ami Gianchandani (a), Short Hills, +16 (83-77–160); Haley Bookholdt (a), Columbus, +17 (82-79–161); Riddhi Singh (a), Marlboro, +18 (84-78–162); Samantha Perrotta (a), Bordentown, +20 (79-85–164); Margaret Platt-Klaus, Township of Washington, +21 (81-84–165); Brittany Weddell, Jackson, +22 (82-84–166); Allyson Wentworth (a), Stewartsville, +24 (86-82–168); Carley Hopton (a), Madison +24 (81-87–168); Eun Won Park (a), Tenafly, +17 (87-8–176); Cindy Ha (a), Demarest, (NS); Yeji Shin (a), Norwood, (WD); Christina Paulsen, Park Ridge, (WD).
(a) – amateur; (NS) – no start; (WD) – withdrew.

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