Women’s golf in Britain owes a debt of gratitude to Royal Lytham & St Annes. Nine years after Catriona Matthew lifted the British Open trophy at the Lancashire links Georgia Hall delivered another home victory. Hall is only the third player from her home nation to win this major. She has scope to make the biggest difference, if only by virtue of her youth.
At 22 Hall has the potential to be an inspiring figure for a generation of emerging players. The highest compliment one can pay her Sunday shootout with Pornanong Phatlum is that for long spells it bore an uncanny resemblance to the classic Open Championship battle between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon in 2016.
Hall’s closing 67 was sufficient to take the title by two shots. An aggregate of 17 under, stunning in itself on what is regarded as the toughest of the Women’s British Open venues, was achieved by four sub-70 rounds. Phatlum, who had kept pace with Hall from the onset of day four, stumbledto a double-bogey six at the 17th, thereby allowing her rival a three-stroke lead.
Even Hall’s dropped shot at the last proved immaterial; British golf has a new superstar. The next highest Briton at this major, Bronte Law, finished 39th.
“I just told myself to stay calm the whole way round and not to think about anything,” Hall said. “I thought I would cry but no, I’m just over the moon.
“It’s incredible. I had so much support today from all the people backing me and supporting me and cheering my name. I’m just so grateful. I’m so over the moon it’s hard to put into words.
“It was great seeing so many young girls out there watching. If I can be a role model for them, great. It is too good to be true. It was my goal when I was nine to win the British Open. I am so happy.”
A personal message followed. “There’s someone special at home who’s going through a very bad time, so this is for you, Grandad,” said the champion.
Hall, whose father Wayne – he named his daughter in honour of Nick Faldo’s Masters success in Augusta, Georgia, in 1996 – had assumed caddie duties all week, has emerged from humble beginnings in Bournemouth. Like Matthew she is also a former British Ladies Amateur champion.
The order of merit title on the Ladies European Tour last year was the key to taking on the United States-based LPGA Tour this year. The key event transpired 12 months ago; Hall’s third‑place finish at the Women’s British Open, then at Kingsbarns, convinced her she could prevail at this major. In highlighting Hall’s rapid progress she had survived for only 36 holes of the Women’s British Open in 2015 and 2016.
Phatlum barely stopped smiling throughout the tournament. That remained the case even in defeat. The Thai player’s prominence was extraordinary in itself given seven previous appearances in the major had delivered six missed cuts and a share of 27th. This marked quite the turnaround.
“Georgia played so amazing today, everything was perfect,” the runner‑up said. “She is from here and everyone was rooting for her. I’m so happy she won. This is going to be a big experience for me. I got very nervous today and didn’t play so well on the back nine.”
The world No 1, Ariya Jutanugarn, signed off with a 69 for a nine-under total and share of fourth. So Yeon Ryu claimed third, at 13 under, after a Sunday 70 which included a triple‑bogey seven at the 3rd. “I think I fought back really, really well and I’m happy to finish top three in this tournament,” Ryu said. “That was one crazy round of golf.”
Yet this was firmly Hall’s day – golf’s coming home.