Melissa (Mo) Martin arrived at Royal Birkdale for the Ricoh Women’s British Open ranked 99th in the world having never led any rounds in her three-year LPGA career, let alone winning on the LPGA Tour. It is therefore stunning that Mo, who is sponsored by CME Group, left the course on Sunday with the championship, capped by what golf pundits argue could be one of the greatest shots in major championship history.
Mo’s victory is a Cinderella story. But while she is one of the shortest-distance hitters in the game,she is also the most accurate, currently ranking no. 1 in driving accuracy on the LPGA tour. That proved to be vital to her success on Sunday. Ward Clayton of LPGA.com pointed out just how remarkable her run of accuracy has been:
Martin may be the most consistent driver in LPGA history. In her three-year LPGA career, Martin has finished third, first and currently stands first in Driving Accuracy. Her career average is 85 percent, meaning she averages missing only two fairways in every round. Only Mika Miyazato’s 86.2 percentage in 2011 betters Martin’s yearly statistic:
Season Fairways Hit Percentage Rank 2012 671 of 800 83.9 percent 3 2013 1,003 of 1,170 85.7 percent 1 2014 668 of 779 85.8 percent 1*
In spite of the challenging conditions on Royal Birkdale, Mo immediately fell in love with the course, and it’s clear that it loved her back. She hit a 3-wood off the flagstick of the 72nd hole to set up her first eagle of the season – third of her LPGA career – and win the Women’s British Open by one stroke.
Finishing with an eagle not only got her the trophy. It also meant a $1,000 donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. CME Group has pledged $1,000 to WWP for every eagle made on the Saturday and Sunday of LPGA events.
It was also one of Mo’s first tournaments without Lincoln Martin, her grandfather and biggest fan, who died at 102 four months prior to her triumph. Lincoln had followed her to every one of her tournaments, even after turning 100. After her victory on Sunday, Mo said, “He was there for all of my wins, and I know he’s here now.”
With the win, Martin also earned 625 points in the Race to the CME Globe standings and goes from 49th to 19th in the overall standings with 959 points. It’s the first year of the points race on the LPGA, which will culminate in the CME Group LPGA Tour Championship in November. Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie and Lydia Ko currently lead the race. You can see the full standings here.