Mighty Mo wins Ricoh Women’s British Open
Mo Martin of the United States earned her first major championship at the Ricoh Women’s British Open with a stunning eagle on the final hole at Royal Birkdale.
Martin had signed her card for a closing 72 - the joint lowest round on a blustery final day – for a total of 287, one-under-par and was ready for a likely play-off against ice-cool South Korean Inbee Park or Norwegian Suzann Pettersen.
Overnight leader Park needed a birdie on the last to tie, but uncharacteristically hit her tee shot into thick rough and took a bogey, while Pettersen finished with a birdie when she needed an eagle to tie.
Martin’s round had a fairytale finish when she hit her ball straight into the centre of the pin flag on 18 using a 3-wood. She then made a putt of six feet for eagle.
After an anxious hour’s wait on the driving range, the news was eventually delivered and she burst into laughter before embracing her caddie. She was then driven back to the 18th green and sprayed in champagne.
This was Martin’s first win on a major tour and when asked if the shot into 18 was the best of her life, the 31-year-old Californian said: “Yeah, absolutely 100 per cent.
“It’s kind of a Cinderella story. Safe to say, it’s the best week of my life.”
Martin credited her coach Ian Triggs, who encouraged her to change from a long to a short putter last year. The most accurate driver on the LPGA for the last two years, this was a victory of accuracy over power. Earlier in the week, Martin had explained how her strategy was to aim for a spot on the widest parts of the fairways, where she would have the best approaches into the greens. She dedicated the win to her late grandfather, Lincoln Martin, who passed away earlier this year aged 102.
The victory also continued the rise of American women’s golf, as this was the first time since 1999 that American women had won the first three majors in a single season, following Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie’s victories at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and US Women’s Open respectively.
Martin opened the championship with successive rounds of 69 to lead the by three strokes at the halfway point, but slipped back with a third round of 77. She started the final round three strokes behind Park but held steady in the windy conditions with gusts of up to 30 miles per hour.
With bogeys on holes one, five and 13 against a birdie on six, she remained in contention throughout the final round, but sealed the £277,887 first prize with the eagle.
“Just my drive. I picked the left side, so I had to hit it up the left side and let it feed up a little bit right. That was the strategy my caddie, Kyle, and I had all week. My second shot there is one I’m always going to remember,” she said.
“It was a tough day of golf today. I mean, it was very windy and this course is very challenging. So stayed patient and I fortunately played some really good golf today.
“From first time I saw Royal Birkdale, I fell in love with it. I think the layout is absolutely phenomenal.”
China’s Shanshan Feng and Pettersen both finished with rounds of 75 for a total of level par 288, while Park ended in solo fourth spot on one-over with a 77.
Americans Jessica Korda and Angela Stanford shared fifth place with South Korean Eun-Hee Lee and Julieta Granada of Paraguay.
And England’s recently appointed dame, Laura Davies, showed that ‘life begins at 50’ with a stunning final round of 73, which lifted her into a share of ninth position on four-over-par with American Marina Alex and South Korean Sun-Ju Ahn.
Some 28 years since winning the 1986 British Open at Royal Birkdale, Davies finished as the leading home player and said: “Obviously I need as much money on the Money List to keep my card in America.”
Meanwhile Charley Hull, whose third round of 66 was the lowest of the tournament, ended a stroke further behind on five-over-par in a tie for 12th place with Gwladys Nocera, Anna Nordqvist, the 2013 champion Stacy Lewis and Azahara Munoz.
Hull said: “I played rubbish today to be honest. I was a bit nervous because the ball was moving and stuff on the greens, so I didn’t want to put my putter down and then it move. So you’re just kind of thinking about that, just stuff like that.I took some different lines with my driver, because I’m hitting my driver pretty well when it’s off the left. But off the right I’m just drawing it too much and that’s because this year I’ve been having a bit of a block in my swing. But the past couple of months I’ve been hitting it really well and I’ve been getting through and hitting this nice draw where it used to when I played the wind off the right, I could kind of block it into the wind a little bit.”
American Emma Talley finished a stroke back on six-over-par in a share of 17th place and won the Smyth Salver and the leading amateur, three strokes ahead of England’s Georgia Hall.
The Ladies European Tour now heads to Wörthsee Golf Club for the Ladies German Open presented by Marriott where Hull will be seeking her second professional title. She said: “I’m playing Germany next week, so I’m really looking forward to that. I can’t wait for that. Probably won’t be very windy out there and it will be a parkland golf course. I’m hitting it very well and it would be nice to go and win over there.”