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Chip Shots: Mighty Mo Steals the Show

David Cannon, Getty Images

With all the sunny weather and multiple golf tournaments playing on TV over the past two weeks, I was bound to have a miss or two. And I will admit it; I should have paid more attention to the LPGA’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, which took place at Royal Birkdale July 10-13.

On my previous Chip Shots segment with Dale and Clem on the morning of July 14, we discussed the Champions Major tournament and the PGA Scottish Open. We also previewed the PGA Men’s British Open set for July 17-20 in England. At that time I hadn’t heard anything about the Women’s British Open, a major tournament. When I did learn more about the tournament and how it ended, I realized I had overlooked the story of the weekend, from a golfing perspective.

Why? Because a relative unknown journeywomen golfer, an American named Mo Martin, surprised everyone and won by one stroke over the world’s best. And she did it with perhaps the shot of the year.

You see, on the par 5 18th hole, “Mighty Mo” hit her 3 wood from the fairway to reach the green 240 yards away. But not only did it reach, it hit the pin, stopping six feet away and allowing Mo to sink an eagle putt for a lead going into the clubhouse. It was her first eagle of the year! The lead held, and to her astonishment, the 31 year-old from California had won her first LPGA tournament, a major. “I think I still need to be pinched,” Mo said after closing with an even-par 72 for a one-shot victory over Shanshan Feng of China and Suzann Pettersen of Norway.

These elements, in and of themselves, would make the story remarkable. But what I really loved about Mo’s victory is her personal history and her plans for a portion of her winnings.

She grew up without a lot of money, and her father taught her the game of golf, building her a hitting cage in their driveway so she could practice without have to pay greens fees or for balls at a driving range. A relatively tiny 5’2”, she walked onto the golf team at UCLA and, after graduating, played professionally, trying to make the LPGA tour. It took her six years and financial support from friends and family, but she made it.

She beat the odds through hard work and perseverance, and it all paid off with her fairytale major victory. The cool back story has to do with her grandfather, Lincoln, who just passed away this past March at the age of 102. Mo didn’t meet him until she was an adult, but when she did they hit it off and became very close. He owned a ranch and when they first met Mo saw all the clippings on his wall documenting her progress. She was blown away. He had been following her career all along.

Turns out, the family ranch was in danger of being sold because expenses were piling up. But Mo was quick to say that a portion of her $474,000 earnings would be going to support the ranch and keep it in the family. “It’s kind of my sanctuary, and it’s nice to have all the memories that I have with Grandpa. It’s an incredible place. This win will definitely help keep it in the family,” said Mo. “It’s been what I wanted to happen.”

With her gutsy play and genuine personality, I think “Mighty Mo” Martin made a lot of fans over the weekend. I know I’m one.

 

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