SYLVANIA, Ohio – From a distance, it looked like Anne van Dam was pulling a relic behind her at the Marathon LPGA Classic. There was no cooler on this trolley. No seat. No spot for her scorecard.
Ah, but this was no antique. It’s actually a TiCad pro, the Mercedes of pull carts. Handcrafted in Germany, the stream-lined TiCad trolleys are light-weight and easy to fold for travel. Van Dam pulled her staff bag around Highland Meadows with ease, raving about its performance. The titanium TiCad runs about 2,000 euros.
After carding an opening 2-under 69, van Dam was off to disinfect the pull cart before she gave it back to owner Sophia Popov for the afternoon wave. Popov caddied for van Dam last week at Inverness, carrying a staff bag. But now the former USC player is in the field too, and since they are in opposite waves, the pair decided to share Popov’s pull cart.
SCORES: Leaderboard at Marathon Classic
What happens if both make the cut?
“Yeah, we’ve gotta fight,” said van Dam, breaking into a smile. “Whoever gets the lowest score.”
Local caddies aren’t being used for the rest of the year on the LPGA due to COVID-19 testing. Players have the option to go without a caddie for 2020, and with her caddie in the Netherlands, van Dam decided not to fly him over to self-quarantine for two weeks prior to the two events in Ohio.
It’s the first time she’s gone without a caddie since she played a handful of events on the Symetra Tour in 2018. While she would’ve rather taken a caddie at the Marathon, she liked the fact that going solo forced her to fully commit to her own decision.
“Doesn’t talk back,” she said, looking down at the trolley. “I can hit it and it doesn’t hurt.”
Van Dam, 24, first met Popov, 27, in junior golf about a dozen years ago. While van Dam stayed in Florida during the COVID-19 break, practicing with Marathon co-leader Ko and Lindy Duncan at Lake Nona, Popov competed out west on the Cactus Tour during the pandemic and won three times. She used the TiCad most weeks in the desert and said the trolley is so light-weight that she can pick it up with one finger after it’s folded like a binder clip.
Popov credited last week’s stint on the bag at Inverness in helping her to shoot 5-under 66 on a picture-perfect day in Sylvania, Ohio, putting her two back of leaders Danielle Kang and Ko.
“Today I think strategically I was doing a way better job than I usually do,” said Popov. “I really picked my spots … played a lot smarter.”
It can be stressful sometimes out there without a caddie, Popov admitted, but she’s naturally a fast player and doesn’t worry about slowing anyone down. Plus the caddies in her group on Thursday were quick to help out.
“If we both make the cut, it’s my push cart,” said Popov, laughing. “It’s obviously going to me.”
Fortunately, they have a trolley in reserve.