LPGA Tour Changes Sophia Popov Rule

Non-members will now receive full benefits for winning a Major after the Sophia Popov controversy last year

LPGA Tour Changes Sophia Popov Rule
(Image credit: getty images)

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.”

Elliott Heath
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x