Mo Martin hit the best shot of her life, and it made her a major champion Sunday in the Women’s British Open in Southport, England.
From the middle of the fairway on the par-5 18th hole at Royal Birkdale, Martin ripped a 3-wood that she first thought was too short, and then worried might be too long. It turned out to be close to perfect. The ball hit the middle of the pin and settled 6 feet away for an eagle.
An hour later, that turned out to be the winning shot for the 31-year-old American when Inbee Park and Shanshan Feng could not stay under par.
“I think I still need to be pinched,” Martin said.
Martin is among the shortest hitters in the game, and won with an eagle — her first of the year. It took her six years just to reach the LPGA Tour, and her first victory in her 64th tournament came in a major championship. She closed with an even-par 72 on a day so tough that no one broke par.
Martin was the only player to break par for the championship, finishing at 1-under 287 for a 1-shot victory over Feng and Suzann Pettersen.
Feng made eight consecutive pars — that constituted a charge on this demanding day — and had the outright lead until she made bogey on the 16th hole.
A playoff looked likely because the two closing holes at Royal Birkdale are par 5s. Feng missed birdie chances of about 15 feet and 10 feet. She shot 75.
Park, who started the day with a 1-shot lead in her quest to become only the seventh woman to capture four of the LPGA’s majors, fell out of the lead by going long on the par-3 14th hole and never caught up.
She missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 17th, and then put her tee shot into the right rough on the easy 18th hole. Her third shot found a bunker, and Park made bogey for a 77.
Pettersen finished birdie-birdie to share second place, but her hopes in effect ended with a double bogey — her second of the round — on the 13th hole.
That left Martin, a UCLA mighty mite who stands no more than 5-foot-2, alone on the range getting ready for a playoff that never happened.
All because of one shot.
“An absolutely perfect 3-wood,” she said. “When it was in the air, I said, ‘Sit.’ And then I said, ‘Stop.’ And then when it was going toward the hole, I said, ‘OK, I don’t have anything more to say to that ball.’ I actually heard it hit the pin. It’s definitely one to remember.”
Brian Harman used three consecutive birdies down the stretch to hold off Zach Johnson by 1 stroke and win the John Deere Classic for his first PGA Tour title in Silvis, Ill.
Harman had a 5-under 66 in the final round for a 22-under-262 total. The 27-year-old Georgian in his third full season on the PGA Tour earned $846,000 and the last exemption for next week’s British Open.
Harman withstood Johnson’s challenge by making three birdies beginning at No. 14 to get to 23 under with two holes to play. Johnson, playing four pairs ahead of Harman, birdied the 17th to get within a stroke, but ran out of holes.
Jhonattan Vegas had a 65 to finished tied for third with Jerry Kelly (66) at 265. Scott Brown (68) and Tim Clark (67) tied for fifth another shot back.
U.S. Senior Open
Colin Montgomerie won a three-hole playoff against Gene Sauers to win the U.S. Senior Open title at Oak Tree National in Edmond, Okla.
Both entered the playoff at 5 under. Montgomerie entered the third extra hole with a 1-shot lead, then made a putt on No. 18 to par the hole and claim the win. Montgomerie became the fifth golfer to win both the PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open in the same year.
He led at the end of the first and second days of the Senior Open, but entered the final round 4 shots behind Sauers and shot a 2-under 69 to force the playoff.
It was the first playoff at a U.S. Senior Open since 2002, when Don Pooley beat Tom Watson in a five-hole playoff.
Justin Rose won the Scottish Open by 2 shots after a final-round 6-under 65, sealing back-to-back victories either side of the Atlantic and bolstering his confidence ahead of next week’s British Open.
The 2013 U.S. Open champion turned the last day into a procession, rolling in six birdies and going bogey-free on a windless Royal Aberdeen links course that was there for the taking on a day of low scoring in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Unheralded Swede Kristoffer Broberg finished second on 14 under after a 66. That qualified him for a place at the British Open at Hoylake, along with other top-10 finishers Tyrrell Hatton and Scott Jamieson.