Sophia Popov played a practice round at Andalusia Country Club in La Quinta, California, from roughly 7,400 yards to prepare for her current caddying assignment for husband Maximilian Mehles. She hit 5-iron and 3-iron into most holes, but she thought that developing a better sense of the lines off the tee would be beneficial.
Mehles, of course, had to make the shots in the end. He also hit two less shots than the rest of the competition to win U.S. Open qualifying. The Kentucky graduate shot a perfect 6-under 66, including four birdies in his final five holes. The couple married in a justice of the peace ceremony late last year and want to have a large party at a later date.
Popov remarked about her great caddying resume, “I’m crushing it.” “Right now, I’m almost considering changing careers.”
Congratulations to Maximilian Mehles, who took home medalist honors at today’s @usopengolf local qualifier — with his girlfriend, LPGA player Sophia Popov, on the bag!
— SCGA (@thescga) May 3, 2022
While not a member of the LPGA, Popov famously caddied for good friend Anne van Dam soon before she won the 2020 AIG Women’s British Open. That week at Royal Troon, Mehles was on her bag.
The couple spent most of Tuesday morning pondering their options for sectional qualifying, which will take place on Monday, May 23, during the LPGA Bank of Hope Match Play event. Popov will need a strong showing in the Cognizant Founders Cup next week to earn a spot in the field. In 2021, she advanced to the final match. It would be difficult to caddie in a 36-hole qualifying over such a demanding week leading up to a major with the match-play event commencing on Wednesday. But, on the other hand, she’d give anything to see Mehles realize his dream of competing in the US Open.
“It’s going to be an extremely difficult decision for me,” she remarked.
This year, Mehles put his own professional golf career on hold in order to caddie for Popov full-time.
“I think he was playing with a lot of ease,” Popov remarked. “At a Monday qualifier, you might sometimes push yourself a little too hard. Rather than pursuing the issue, he kind of let all the birds come to him.”
Popov picked up the bag after a long day on the road and saw her beau’s unassuming demeanor. She was also impressed with his wedge game, which shone despite his lack of experience.
There’s always something to learn from good golf, and Popov will take advantage of Mehles’ positive sentiments as they head into a crucial stretch. The 29-year-old USC alum believes that what’s wrong with her game is physical rather than mental, and she’s confident that everything will fall into place shortly. In the interim, having her boyfriend at her side has been beneficial.
“When you’re playing good, it’s always easier to vibe well with your caddie,” she remarked. “But it’s crucial to have someone on the bag you can trust when you’re in a bit of a bind and trying to figure out your golf game.”