SOUTHPORT, England — Mo Martin knew she hit her 3-wood exactly how she wanted on the 18th hole at Royal Birkdale.
With the ball slightly below her feet, just under 240 yards away and a strong wind at her back, she let it rip and watched the ball track toward the flag. Martin thought it was short. Then she thought it might be too long. Moments later, she realized just how good it was.
“I could hear it hit the pin from the fairway,” Martin said. “That was a pretty fun feeling.”
The ball rolled into the center of the flagstick and settled 6 feet away for an eagle, and when no one could catch her, the 31-year-old American became a major champion Sunday at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
“I think I still need to be pinched,” Martin said after closing with an even-par 72 for a one-shot victory over Shanshan Feng of China and Suzann Pettersen of Norway.
It was Martin’s first eagle of the year — one of the shortest hitters in the game, she doesn’t get many opportunities. She had not won on the LPGA Tour in 63 previous tries. And on a wind-swept Sunday when no one broke par, she was never closer than two shots of the leaders the entire final round.
The best shot of her life changed everything.
“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.”
She turned and did a little jig in the fairway.
An hour later, it turned out to be the winning shot when Feng and Inbee Park of South Korea couldn’t stay under par.