Non-members will now receive full benefits for winning a Major after the Sophia Popov controversy last year
LPGA Tour Changes Sophia Popov Rule
The LPGA Tour has reacted to the huge Sophia Popov controversy of 2020 to ensure it never happens again.
Popov, who was not an LPGA Tour member, won the Women’s Open but didn’t receive the benefits that many argued she should.
The German received a two-year LPGA Tour exemption, which would have been five years had she been a member.
She also did not earn any points for the LPGA Tour’s Race to the CME Globe, meaning she missed out on the ANA Inspiration and the season-finale CME Group Tour Championship.
There was outrage within the golf world, with Ian Poulter saying after her Open win: “This story is absolutely embarrassing to the LPGA and quite frankly embarrassing to the game of golf.
“Somebody wake up and figure this out. To the best story in golf for a very long time to the worst story in a few days.”
Tommy Fleetwood said the rules were “stupid to say the least.”
“Very bittersweet….but glad I was able to be influential in changing rules that never should have been there in the first place,” Popov wrote on social media in reply to the original Golfweek report.
“Maybe they will even be named after me,” she continued with the hashtag #PopovRules.
US Women’s Open winner A Lim Kim was also a non-member at the time of her victory in December.
Both Popov and Kim still have two-year exemptions, with the new rules coming into play for 2021.
Hinako Shibuno was also a non-member when she won the 2019 Women’s British Open.
This is not a surprise after former LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan addressed the controversy last year.
“It’s the regulation we started the season with,” and “it’s what we’ll finish the season with,” Whan said.
“Maybe we should feel different about non-member Major wins, period,” Whan continued.
“I definitely will look at that. What I won’t do is change a regulation in the middle of the season. That’s not the right way to run a sport, and quite frankly not the fairest way to treat your athletes.”