HEALTHY WEBER HOPES FOR LATE RUN
A bogey-free, 5-under par 67 on the Senator Course at Capitol Hill in the first round of the Guardian Championship launched Dewi Weber (Groningen, Netherlands) into a share of the 18-hole lead.
“I’m just doing my thing every round, focusing on the little things to help me get better and not the end result or just three events remaining,” said Weber, who hit 17 greens in regulation today. “My putting has been kind of off lately and it was nice to see them roll in today. Staying patient is key for me because I haven’t been doing that recently.”
Having missed several events during the middle of the season due to a left ankle injury, the University of Miami (FL) alumna is currently ranked No. 27 in the Volvik Race for the Card. On the outside looking in, there is still time for Weber to make a late run.
“The chances of me getting into the top-10, I need a win and a high finish,” the rookie said. “I know the reality and am striving for it, but at the same time from experience if I put lots of pressure and emphasis on events it won’t help me.”
POPOV ALSO SETTING THE PACE IN PRATTVILLE
Joining Weber atop the leaderboard in a share of the 18-hole lead is University of Southern California alumna Sophia Popov (Heidelberg, Germany), who used four birdies and an eagle to get to 5-under par.
She has not missed a cut in 10 events played on the Epson Tour in 2019. That stretch is highlighted by six top-10 finishes, including three straight.
“I played great and even the last hole, the pin is low-key ridiculous with a three-putt that almost felt like a two-putt,” Popov said after ending with a bogey on No. 18. “The rest of the round was pretty much exactly how I drew it up. Need to continue what I’ve been doing by staying aggressive and not back off certain shots. It can be really easy out here to get defensive since the pins are tough. Sometimes you get bad breaks, but just have to deal with shots that don’t end up where you think they will.”
SANZ BARRIO OFF TO STRONG START IN SECOND HOME
One of three individuals tied for third at 4-under par after day one in Prattville, Ala. is Auburn University alumna Patricia Sanz Barrio (Madrid, Spain). The performance tied a season-best score to par.
“It’s pretty nice to be back in Alabama and representing Auburn,” said Sanz Barrio. “It was a good round, some good shots at the beginning. I had been unconfident with my driver then started hitting it well and my irons were solid. Front nine was boring with pars, a birdie and bogey. On the back nine was a little bit lucky making long putts and even a chip-in. I just stayed really patient.”
Beside returning to the region of her second home, Sanz Barrio also has friend Rick Brewer on the bag to make the environment even more comforting. The duo met in Greenwood, S.C., where they worked the 2017 and 2018 Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic together as Brewer lives right around the corner from host venue The Links at Stoney Point Golf Club.
“He drove all the way here and he’s really awesome,” Sanz Barrio said. “The first time he caddied for me he was like, ‘I know what I got to do: show up, shut up, keep up. He talks to me sometime and it’s just nice to have someone you’re familiar with. He’s also really positive.”
- Weber, 23, is a native of Groningen, Netherlands
- Competed as member of the Dutch National Team since 2010
- Three-time medalist for the University of Miami (FL) captured 17 top-10 finishes
- Won 2016 Mary Fossum Invitational & Betsy Rawls Invitational, 2018 UCF Challenge
- T2 as an individual at the 2016 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf National Championship
- Named a 2017 Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) Second Team All-American as a sophomore and to the All-ACC team
- 2019 Epson Tour rookie after finishing 144 holes and T51 at inaugural LPGA Q-Series
- Made her Epson Tour debut at the 2019 SKYiGOLF Championship with a result of T13
- Five top-15 performances in first five starts of Epson Tour career including three top-10s
- Popov, 26, is a native of Heidelberg, Germany
- Won the 2010 International European Ladies Amateur Championship
- Named the 2011 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year for the University of Southern California and also selected as the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) Freshman of the Year
- Member of the 2013 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf National Championship title team and finished her Trojans career as only the second four-time All-American in program history
- Five career collegiate victories tie Popov for the most in USC history, while 22 rounds in the 60s is tops by any Trojans player and career stroke average of 72.71 is second
- Finished T11 at the Final Stage of the 2014 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 12 membership for the 2015 LPGA Tour season
- 39 events on the Epson Tour during the 2016 and 2017 seasons featured 35 cuts made with 11 top-10s and a career-best solo second result at the 2016 Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial
- Finished T32 at the Final Stage of the 2017 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 17 membership for the 2018 LPGA Tour season
- Battled injury throughout 2018, but made the cut in all three Epson Tour starts and played the weekend in half of her 12 LPGA Tour starts with a career-best T13 finish at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give
- Finished T36 at the inaugural LPGA Q-Series to earn Priority List Category 14 status for the 2019 LPGA Tour season