It's not often you see a golfer win a major championship with a walk-off eagle, but Mo Martin, an incredible underdog story, won the Ricoh Women's British Open Sunday at Royal Birkdale by doing just that. Martin, a UCLA product, turned pro in 2005 but did not have an LPGA win on her resume after excelling at the women's developmental tour level. She had never really contended or been a factor at the majors, and then Sunday's charge at Birkdale happened and left the leaders behind her stunned and scrambling to match her early posting.
Birkdale punished the players all week, and especially on Sunday with the wind up and howling. It looked like even-par would be enough to win the championship, and Martin was trying to get into the clubhouse with that on the 18th, a gettable par-5. Standing in the fairway, she rocketed what she called a "baby cut" 3-wood up the chute and onto the green. The ball was tracking ... tracking ... tracking and dinged right off the flagstick, just a bounce away from an albatross that would have assuredly locked it up.
She told ESPN afterwards that she barked at the ball the whole way up, yelling "Sit!" at first and then "Go!" as it started honing in on the cup.
The ball ended up over five feet from the hole, so the eagle was definitely no gimme. Martin would back off her first time addressing the ball, but then stepped up again and rolled it right in for the eagle to make up two shots on the field. It wasn't quite the "miracle" bomb walk-off winner that Paula Creamer sank from 75 feet earlier this year, but given the major stakes, it was just as great a finish.
Martin would get into the clubhouse with a round of 72 and 1-under for the championship. The players behind her were clearly affected by that sudden jump, and gave away shots on some of the easier holes coming down the stretch as Martin warmed up on the range preparing for a potential playoff.
It's an awesome story for Martin, who is an underdog favorite in the locker room. Most of her colleagues and competitors greeted her with hugs after the win, and even ESPN's Tom Rinaldi said "Full disclosure: Tears in the booth" after it became official. After hugging her caddie on the range, Martin exclaimed "Is this real life?" with a fixed grin. It was a cool story and awesome finish on what continues to be an amazing year for women's golf.