Mike Whan Remains Firm Over Sophia Popov LPGA Tour Exemption

Sophia Popov will not be given a five year exemption to the LPGA Tour or entry into the ANA Inspiration as the rules were already set

Mike Whan Remains Firm Over Sophia Popov LPGA Tour Exemption
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sophia Popov will not be given a five year exemption to the LPGA Tour or entry into the ANA Inspiration as the rules were already set

Mike Whan Remains Firm Over Sophia Popov LPGA Tour Exemption

LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan says that he is not changing the rules to allow Women's Open champion Sophia Popov a five year exemption.

Whan is also unwilling to allow Popov entry into the ANA Inspiration as the field has already been set for the event that was due to be played in April.

Speaking in a video conference, Whan said, “It’s the regulation we started the season with,” and “it’s what we’ll finish the season with.”

He also noted that the regulations were not changed for 2019 Women's Open champion Hinako Shibuno.

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Sophia Popov has gained entry into the Majors for the next five years, although she has missed out on a five year exemption to the LPGA Tour as she was not a member prior to victory at Royal Troon.

She has not gained entry into the ANA Inspiration and is also currently out of the US Women's Open too as her Major exemptions will begin from 2021.

The situation was widely criticised on social media, although Whan did earn respect from many for his firm and clear communication over why they are not changing the rules for Popov.

He did also say that they will be open to changing the rules for next season.

“Maybe we should feel different about non-member Major wins, period,” Whan said.

“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."

Ian Poulter called the situation "embarrassing" and Tommy Fleetwood called it "stupid," whilst many other industry figures were also critical.

"This story is absolutely embarrassing to the @LPGA and quite frankly embarrassing to the game of golf," Poulter tweeted.

"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."

"Knee-jerk reactions are easy. This reasoned response, with numerous past examples to support the relevancy of the rule, is yet another reason to admire Mike Whan," Golf Channel Analyst Brandel Chamblee wrote on social media.

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Elliott Heath
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, 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 covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-6. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!


Elliott is currently playing:


Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x