Aug. 14, 2011
With the calendar year ticking down and only two tournaments remaining on the 2011 LPGA Futures Tour schedule, Mo Martin emerged as a timely winner of the Eagle Classic.
The Californian carded a final-round score of 6-under 66 today to win by three shots at 13-under 203. She edged runner-up Cara Freeman of San Tan Valley, Ariz., who also posted a 66 to finish at 10-under 206 for her career-best finish.
Martin's third career win today at Richmond Country Club was, in her words, part of a larger plan to play her best golf, win golf tournaments and to prepare herself to move on to the LPGA Tour after six years on the LPGA Futures Tour.
And that plan has been on target this season for Martin, who has recorded 10 top-10s in 14 events, including five top-five finishes, and a jump from No. 5 to third on the season money list with today's victory.
"This is a very crucial part of the season and this win means a whole bunch," said Martin, 28, of Altadena, Calif. "It's wonderful that I won, but this isn't the end of the season. We still have two tournaments left.
Martin birdied the first hole from 20 feet in today's final round, and charged into a share of the lead with second-round leader Sophia Sheridan of Guadalajara, Mexico when she made a six-foot birdie putt on No. 3.
But when Sheridan bogeyed four holes on the front nine and Martin carded four birdies, the former UCLA collegian saw opportunity and built on it.
With her 99-year-old grandfather from California and an aunt from Tennessee in her gallery following every shot, the youngest Martin made her family's trip to Virginia worth the plane tickets. She birdied the 10th hole from 15 feet, nearly made eagle on the par-five 12th hole for a tap-in birdie, and knocked in a six-foot birdie on the 14th to build a four-shot lead with three holes to play.
"I stayed aggressive with my putting and honestly, I didn't know I had a four-shot lead until I reached the 17th green," said Martin, who hit 14 greens in regulation today and recorded 26 putts. "I just know you don't win a tournament until your putt drops on the 18th hole."
The Californian's only hiccup was a bogey on the tricky 16th hole, but she was braced for the stretch of Richmond Country Club's demanding final three holes. Those three par-4 holes have arguably determined the winner for the last three years at this event and Martin has been around long enough to remember all of them.
With a three-shot lead and Freeman waiting in the clubhouse, Martin's approach into the 18th hole landed just short of the green. Her chip rolled to 12 feet short of the hole.
The Futures Tour veteran watched as Sheridan (72) closed out her round. And she carefully watched first-round leader Min Seo Kwak (70) of Seoul, South Korea roll her putt on a similar line as the putt Martin faced. Kwak made par and moved into a tie for third at 8-under 208 with Sheridan and rookie Olivia Jordan Higgins (67) of Channel Islands, U.K.
And then with Grandpa Martin standing greenside wearing his "Go Mo" pin and "Mona," the long putter she has used since her mid-teens in her hands, the pro confidently drained her 12 footer for par and the win. Martin pumped her fist several times, plucked her ball out of the hole, and embraced her grandfather at the end of a week that mattered so much with the clock ticking.
"She played solid and she made every putt she looked at," said Sheridan, who picked up the petite Martin on the 18th green as the players saluted the champ. "I don't think she missed one shot. When a friend wins and plays so well, you can't help but be happy for her."
And now in third place on the season money list finally in position to "graduate" from the Futures Tour to the LPGA, Martin's plan seems to be working right on time.
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Story courtesy of the LPGA Futures Tour.