Sunday, March 18, 2018

American Mo Martin wins first career tourney at Women's British Open

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 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. She eagled the par-5 hole, and when no one could catch her, the 31-year-old American became a major champion Sunday at the Women's British Open.

"I think I still need to be pinched," Martin said after closing with par 72 for a one-shot victory over Shanshan Feng (75) and Suzann Pettersen (75) at 1-under 287.

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 day 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, 'Okay, 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 third-round leader Inbee Park couldn't stay under par. Both needed one birdie over the two par-5 closing holes. Feng missed birdie putts of 15 and 10 feet. Park missed a 12-footer on the 17th, then put her tee shot in the right rough on the easy 18th hole and wound up with a bogey for 77. She finished 1 over.

Monty gets 2nd major

EDMOND, Okla. — Colin Montgomerie is getting used to winning big events. He defeated third-round leader Gene Sauers in a playoff to claim the U.S. Senior Open title at Oak Tree National.

Montgomerie failed to win in 71 PGA Tour majors and four Champions Tour majors until May, when he won the Senior PGA Championship. Now he has won two of his past three majors. The 51-year-old said he has become more patient with age.

"You have to play intelligent golf, and I think I've matured enough to realize that and play more within myself sometimes, including (Sunday), to play away from some pins so you don't make bogies, and you realize that in major golf, pars are usually good enough, especially in the USGA events," he said.

Montgomerie also won his first pro playoff in nine tries. Most famously he lost to Ernie Els at the 1994 U.S. Open and to Steve Elkington in sudden death at the 1995 PGA Championship.

On the 18th hole of regulation, Montgomerie parred for 2-under 69, then waited. Sauers' second shot landed about 10 feet from the hole, giving him a chance to win with a birdie. His putt lipped out. He parred for 73 to force the playoff. Both finished at 5-under 279.

Montgomerie entered the third extra hole with a one-shot lead, then sank a putt on 18 to par and claim the win.

European: Justin Rose won the Scottish Open by two after shooting 6-under 65 in Aberdeen, sealing back-to-back victories on both sides of the Atlantic. The 2013 U.S. Open champ totaled 16-under 268. Swede Kristoffer Broberg (66) finished second and earned a spot in this week's British Open.

PGA: Third-round leader Brian Harman used three straight birdies down the stretch to hold off Zach Johnson (64) by one stroke and win the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., for his first tour title. Harman had 5-under 66 for 22-under 262. The 27-year-old Georgian, in his third full season on the tour, earned a British Open spot.