Hall wins first major in home country

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — 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 long-time leader Pornanong Phatlum in a gripping final-round duel at Royal Lytham to win the Women’s British Open for her first major title on Sunday.

Hull tapped in for a bogey — her first of the day — at the last hole to clinch a two-shot victory over Pornanong. 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 two-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 English golfer Nick Faldo at Augusta, Georgia. She was named in honor of that victory, which came after Faldo overcame a six-stroke deficit to Greg Norman in the final round.

Twenty-two years later, Hall is the pride of English golf just like 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 67, which included six birdies, saw her finish on 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 receives 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.

Thomas wins

AKRON, Ohio — Nervous at the start, Justin Thomas was in full control at the Bridgestone Invitational to the end. He had a four-shot lead and faced a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole that would only determine his margin of victory.

And then he nearly lost it.

He marked his ball, turned toward the back of the green and saw his grandparents, Paul and Phyllis Thomas, who had never seen him win since his joined the PGA Tour.

Paul Thomas is a career club pro who played himself at Firestone in the 1960 PGA Championship. His grandmother is one of his biggest supporters who navigated her way around the hills of Firestone using a walker in 90-degree heat.

Thomas bowed his head to collect his emotions, which were stronger than when he won the PGA Championship last summer.

“I just got a huge knot in my throat and I just had to put my head down,” he said after closing with a 1-under 69 for his first World Golf Championship title. “I’ve never gotten like that on the golf course before. You just don’t know if they’re ever going to see me win if I don’t win here. So it was pretty cool to get it done.”

They saw a one-man show Sunday that sent Thomas to Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis with high hopes of joining Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA Championship in stroke play.

Playing in the final group with Rory McIlroy, the 25-year-old Thomas never let anyone closer than two shots of the lead. He opened made only two birdies and left the mistakes to everyone with range of him. McIlroy finished the front nine with consecutive bogeys and never recovered. Ian Poulter started three shots behind and shot 74. Jason Day made a run with three straight birdies to start the back nine, only to play the final six holes in 5-over par for a 73.

Tiger Woods was never in the picture.

In the final World Golf Championship at Firestone, on the South course where Woods set a PGA Tour record with eight victories, he tried to end with a bang and turned in a dud. Woods made two double bogeys and three bogeys on the back nine and salvaged a 73 to finish 15 shots behind.

“Things could have certainly gone better,” Woods said. “But it is what it is, and on to next week.”

Thomas could not have asked for a better week. Winless the last five months without feeling as though his game were in disarray, he got the result he needed ahead of the final major of the year. He joined Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson as three-time winners this season.

Perry takes 3M title

BLAINE, Minn. — Kenny Perry created more drama than he wanted Sunday in the last 3M Championship.

He closed with a 3-under 69 for a three-stroke victory in the PGA Tour Champions 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.

“It’s an honor. Incredible. He’s one of the greatest players of all time,” Perry said.

Perry’s not done at the course where he finished in the top seven in all but one of his eight appearances, saying he’ll participate in the 2019 3M Open. Players in the top-50 PGA Tour career money list — Perry is 26th — can cash in a one-time, season-long exemption to return to the tour after they’ve lost status.

“This golf course fits me to a T. … It’s going to be so long next year, I probably won’t even recognize it when I come back,” he said. “I’ll be back here hitting long irons while those kids will be hitting wedges.”

Five shots ahead after rounds of 66 and 60, Perry finished at 21-under 195 to win his 10th senior title and first since the 2017 U.S. Senior Open. He won the last of his 14 PGA Tour titles in 2008.

Following offseason shoulder surgery, Perry’s best finish this season had been fifth at the Insperity Invitational in early May.

COMMENTS