Favorite Daughter Won’t Fold, Wins Her National Tournament
Golf is so global these days. Great ones are coming from everywhere, so winning one’s national tournament, a major to boot, is so very difficult and unlikely most of the time. It is especially difficult for a new player who joined the rookie ranks in 2018 and is facing the best in the business, having no track record of victories on any tour at all. All right then, to be fair, there is a flip side to that logic. If you’re game is hitting on all cylinders, if your nerves are like a rock, and you are sitting at 17 under in the final round, nothing else matters very much – you’re sitting pretty. When Georgia Hall entered the fourth round of the Women’s British Open as a real contender, all the cliches rang through my mind, especially the ones that are usually true. “Great job,” I said, “but there’s no way you’re going to play at that level all four days. Your nerves can’t take it. You can’t hang with these people. They are experienced winners, and play each other every week.”
Georgia Hall is a young twenty-something. She is gifted, but not experienced yet in the winner’s circle. Let’s go back to the gifted part and add that she is not a folder. In fact, Georgia was the one steadily pursuing Pornanong Phatlum and other luminaries, and stroke by stroke, catching them. Finally, Phatlum bogeyed 8, and Georgia rolled in a 10-footer for birdie shortly after. Then another one at 16 at a time when she was supposed to ‘fading. After all, that is the equation for a newcomer trying to make a little history. All four rounds comfortably in the 60s, no fading, folding, or even wincing, and six birdies in the final round. It turned into a duel with Phatlum, who holds all the statistical edges, but it didn’t matter – Georgia Hall would not fold at Lythams St. Annes, not this week.
Actually, there was a hint for those paying attention. Hall finished third in the Open last year. It gave the young woman named after a famous Masters in which Faldo caught and surpassed Norman the idea that the whole idea was possible. Only three other British women have done it – Karen Stupple, Laura Davies, and Allison Nicholas. Hall lit up all the biggest rewards for winning a major for her first victory, including proud player, proud family, and proud nation. Father Wayne Hall, a pretty fair player himself, was on the bag for his daughter, and must have gone out of his mind with pride. Hall took it easy on him and bogeyed the final hole, just to make sure no one thought that she was showing off.
This is no flash in the pan major performance. You might hit a lucky shot here and there, but you can’t fool the game of golf for four days. It was Georgia Hall at -17, Phatlum two strokes back, followed by Minjun Lee, who might have been a contender if she hadn’t played a little bunker hockey in the third round. Sei Young Kim and Seon Ryu were contenders. When a major comes up on the calendar, they all come. This year’s Open looked as if it was going to be particularly interesting on both sides of the coin. Brooke aced her way into contention, Wie sadly withdrew from an injury, and Gloria went 48 holes without a bogey, and didn’t let anyone see a single nerve. Pretty soon, she’ll be the one players are looking for over their shoulders.