Women’s British Open goes to a Brit: Georgia Hall wins first major title
Named in honor of a famous Masters victory, Georgia Hall has her hands on one of the big trophies in women’s golf at the age of 22.
The Englishwoman reeled in longtime leader Pornanong Phatlum in a gripping final-round duel Sunday at Royal Lytham to win the Women’s British Open for her first major title.
Hall tapped in for a bogey — her first of the day — at the last hole to clinch a two-shot victory over Phatlum. Hall then hugged her playing partner from Thailand before being lifted off her feet by her caddie, father Wayne.
It was fitting that Wayne, a former 2-handicapper himself, was on the bag to experience the biggest moment of his daughter’s career.
Georgia was born during the 1996 Masters won by Englishman Nick Faldo. She was named in honor of that victory, which came after Faldo overcame a six-stroke deficit to beat Greg Norman in the final round.
Twenty-two years later, Hall is the pride of English golf just as Faldo was. And the way Hall kept her composure and kept producing the shots of her life down the stretch, there might be more major titles to come.
Her round of 5-under-par 67, which included six birdies, helped her finish 17-under 271.
‘‘I was loving it deep down, hitting the shots under pressure,’’ said Hall, who barely showed any emotions all round. ‘‘To get six birdies in the final round of a major is not bad.’’
Hall, who received a check of $490,000, became the first English major winner since Karen Stupples won this event in 2004, and the fourth overall, along with Laura Davies and Alison Nicholas.
She followed Stupples and Catriona Matthew — in 2009 at Lytham — as the only British winners of the Women’s British Open since it achieved major status in 2001.
Roared on under blue skies by the large gallery desperate for a home winner, the 39th-ranked Hall started the day a shot behind Phatlum, who led after the second and third rounds.
From the moment Phatlum curled in a long left-to-right putt at the second hole to answer Hall’s 15-foot birdie at the first, it had the makings of a duel in the Lytham sun.
And a two-player race for the year’s fourth major was definitely established when both picked up a shot at No. 4 and Phatlum followed Hall in birdying No. 6. That regained a two-shot lead for Phatlum, who had also birdied the par-3 fifth hole.
Hall was always chasing but was given hope when Phatlum bogeyed No. 8 to reduce her lead to one shot. Then, when Hall rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 13, they were tied for the first time since the first hole.
Hall took the outright lead for the first time in the tournament after a 20-foot putt for birdie at the 16th hole and went down the last with a three-shot lead after Phatlum, ranked No. 97 and also seeking her first major and LPGA title, missed a 2-foot putt to make double-bogey at 17.
Hall played safe in three-putting from distance in front of Royal Lytham’s storied clubhouse and celebrated her first win on the LPGA Tour. She had never won on the Ladies European Tour, either.
‘‘It is too good to be true,’’ Hall said. ‘‘It was my goal when I was 9 to win the British Open. I am so happy.
“I just had to stay calm and patient. It was very close up to the last two holes and I holed all the putts today.’’
Ryu So-yeon of South Korea was third on 13 under after a final-round 70.
PGA — Justin Thomas took all the drama out of the final World Golf Championship at Firestone, never letting anyone closer than two shots and closing with a 1-under 69 to win the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, for his third title this season.
Playing in the final group with Rory McIlroy, the 25-year-old Thomas made only two birdies. That was all he needed on a day when just about everyone within range was making all the mistakes.
McIlroy finished the back nine with consecutive bogeys and never recovered. Ian Poulter shot 74. Jason Day tried to make a run by making three straight birdies, only to play the final six holes in 5 over to shoot 73.
Tiger Woods, an eight-time winner at Firestone, started 11 shots behind and figured he would go out with a bang by playing aggressively. He turned in a dud, and a birdie on the 18th hole gave him another 73 to leave him 15 shots behind.
‘‘Things could have certainly gone better,’’ Woods said. ‘‘But it is what it is, and on to next week.’’
Thomas had not had a score better than 67, and he had not finished higher than a tie for 28th in his two previous appearances at Firestone.
‘‘I’m glad I finally played well around here, just in time to leave,’’ he said.
Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1 player who was coming off a victory in the Canadian Open last week, started the final round 10 shots behind and shot 29 on the front nine.
A birdie at No. 10 put him three shots behind, but Johnson bogeyed the last hole for a 64 and shared third with Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.
European — India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar held off a record-setting charge from Australian Anthony Quale to win the Fiji International in Sigatoka by one stroke, while Ernie Els shot a 7-under 65 to finish a further stroke behind.
Bhullar, the overnight leader by a shot, produced his best round of the tournament, a 6-under 66, to move to 14 under over four rounds. Quayle went lower, shooting a course-record 9-under 63 to all but snatch the trophy and the winner’s share of a $1.2 million purse.
Champions — Kenny Perry won the 3M Championship one last time, closing with a 3-under 69 for a three-stroke victory in the event that is being replaced by the PGA Tour’s 3M Open.
Also the 2014 and 2015 winner at TPC Twin Cities, the 57-year-old Perry matched Hale Irwin’s tournament record of three victories in the final edition of the event that started in 1993 at Bunker Hills. Wes Short Jr. was second after a 63.