Anika Varma in T11 as Sophia Popov snatches the lead on Cactus Tour

Eight pars on the back nine should have set up a good finish for Anika Varma, but a double bogey on the 12th hole marred an otherwise fighting effort

Anika Varma - Pic: Noah Montgomery - Cactus Tour

15 April 2020: An eventful second round at the Union Hills Country Club saw Sophia Popov climb ahead of Sarah Burnham to the top of the leaderboard in the fourteenth event on the Cactus Tour calendar. Anika Varma shot 76 in the second round, reaching the final round in T11 at 6-over through 36 holes.

Sophia Popov - Cactus Tour
Sophia Popov – Cactus Tour

Only three women dipped under par on Tuesday as Popov repeated a 71 to gain a one-stroke advantage over the first-round leader over Burnham. They are the only two women under par at the end of the first two rounds. Popov is at 2-under 142, with Burnham on her heels.

Alexis Linam is lying third at one-over with scores of 72 and 73. Ashley Menne and Ellen Secor are tied in fourth as the three amateurs completed the top five. Sophie Hausmann of Germany made amends from a first-round 76 with a battling 71 in the second round. Amateur Veronica Joels also moved inside the top ten, two strokes behind the German, making a 71 to address some of the damage from a 78 in the opening round. Joels is at 5-over with fellow Americans Ariana Macioce and Paige Lee. Hausmann is in a tie for sixth with Britney Yada.

Anika Varma - Pic: Noah Montgomery
Anika Varma – Pic: Noah Montgomery

Anika made a brilliant start in the second round with a birdie at the par-5 third hole. But the par-3 fifth and seventh holes proved her undoing as she conceded bogeys. And another at the ninth hole, a 379 yard par-4 meant that she turned in 38 strokes, just as she did in the opening round.

The second nine was so much better for Anika, who made eight pars. But the 146 yard 12th hole proved expensive as she made a double-bogey five to account for her four-over 76.

Sophia was even through the first three holes but back to back bogeys sent her over par, when she reached the 489-yard sixth hole. The German reached the green in two and sank the eagle putt to erase the damage with finesse. She went one up on the course with a birdie on the next hole, going past the bend in 35 strokes.

Popov took another bogey at the tenth hole, at 505-yards, the longest on the course. But she made a three on the par-4 13th hole to ensure she secured one of just three 71s on the day.