Mo Martin: Popup Player of the Day at Women’s British Open

Mo Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open on Sunday by shooting even par, 72 in the final round. On a very blustery day, everyone else in the field was over par on the day except for Anna Nordqvist who also shot even.

And for that exceptional round, she also wins the Popup Player of the Day award which seeks to acknowledge great rounds by the most unlikely of players. Martin has been slaving away at professional golf since she graduated from UCLA in 2005 with a degree in psychology. She finally got to the LPGA in 2012 and has played with modest success until this blockbuster win.

Interestingly, when she arrived in England, she had no expectations: 

“You know what, I didn’t really have any expectations for this week in particular.  I mean, I fell in love with the golf course and I think anybody who enters the championship is trying to win it, and so that was definitely the intention. But I definitely didn’t expect this.”

She iced it with a 3-wood into heavy winds that hit the pin for a kick-in eagle:

“Yes, it was definitely a full 3‑wood.  I had a little bit of a left‑to‑right lie and also the wind was coming pretty strong.”

“So I aimed it very far left and hit it full, and held it up a little bit against the wind.  Yeah, when it was rolling on the ground, I said ‘Sit,’ and then I said ‘Go,’ and it looked perfect, so I didn’t have anything more to say.  It hit the pin and I could hear it hit the pin from the fairway.  That was a pretty fun feeling.”

You hit a shot like that on 18, you start to think you might have a chance. But Martin began the day at T7 and it seemed unlikely. On the other hand, it was extremely windy and you never know. But she didn’t start out thinking that way:

“No, I didn’t, at the time.  I mean, there was so many players behind me, so much golf left to be played.  You know, standing on the tee box I was just trying to hit a good drive and that 3‑wood I was just trying to hit to the best of my ability, but no, I wasn’t thinking about it.  When it hit the pin, I thought, okay, if that went in, that might have been pretty significant.”

Finally it dawned on her that she might just be in it at the end and headed to the range. But just for the comfort of it, she wanted to insulate herself from what was happening on the course:

“No, I didn’t want to know what was happening.  I was fully prepared to go into a playoff.  I thought maybe I wouldn’t even have that opportunity.  But definitely didn’t expect to be the out right champion here.  But I was fully prepared to go into a playoff. I didn’t want real-time updates.  I just wanted to get prepared for possibly playing more golf.”

And it turned out that she had an edge; playing in big winds played right into her skill set:

“I love the wind.  I mentioned earlier in the week that my first win on Symetra Tour was in El Paso, and winds there were 30‑ to 40‑mile‑per‑hour gusts.  They called the tournament for the first time in tour history there.”

“I love the wind.  I love working against the wind and having some fun with it.  And Kyle, my caddie, did a really good job of getting great yardages.  I mean, I think all week, I probably only hit two or three wrong clubs.  I mean, we did a really good job this week.”

And while she was at it, she picked up a new skill set. She played so well through 36 holes that she ended up with the camera guys right behind her all day long. We take it for granted as we watch, but it’s a level of scrutiny you’ve never experienced before when it first happens and you need to learn to “include” it.

“Yesterday and thinking about it, I mean, I had a rough patch in there, but I played a lot better than I scored yesterday.  And it was a learning curve for me.  I had a camera behind me every single shot I hit.  That was a first.”

“So I think it was just a little bit harder to focus yesterday.  So today I just wanted to learn the most I could from that and continue on.  But strategy‑wise, game‑wise, nothing was different.”

One of the hallmarks of a grounded player is that they have learned to play “in gratitude” for the lives they get to live. They do what they do because they love it; career considerations come from that. They’re the kind of people you want to be around:

“I mean, I’m just grateful for having the career I have.  I mean, I’m just grateful for — I mean, I live the dream every day.  No, I haven’t thought about much at all.”

With her humble beginnings and modest success, she needed angel investors from people who wanted to help her get to the LPGA. It’s humbling:

“We didn’t have a lot of money growing up.  My dad taught me from Hogan’s Five Lessons, and he built a cage in our driveway.  So we couldn’t afford lessons.  So he knew it was going to be a great sport, so he taught my brother and I.”

“So just financially speaking, a lot of people throughout the years came together to help me continue playing.  So I mean, I wish I could thank everybody right now but they absolutely know who they are; just to get me into junior tournaments and to help me travel, and the opportunity to walk on at UCLA.  My grandma helped me through that first year.  So many people have come together.”

So it might make you think about quitting rather than having to think about always having to raise money. But Martin was pretty balanced about it; you’re not so fearful of something you already know:

“I guess, yeah, I had — three things were my criteria to keep playing:  I thought if I still woke up and I was happy in the morning; if I was still contributing to the women’s game and growing it; and three, if I was paying my own bills.

“So that was my criteria.  Those are my three things. So as long as I was accomplishing those, then I was going to keep playing.”

I love this story about how she met her coach of two years, Ian Triggs, because it mirrored my own contemporaneous connection with the late, great teacher, Jim Flick. I asked him the same question she asked Triggs and we both ended up with enduring relationships with coaches who cared about us:

“That’s a funny story.   Let’s see, when was it — two years ago, the Australian Open before this — so, yeah, last year.  This is my second season working with him.”

“I didn’t have a good week and I was just frustrated with my ball‑striking, and I was hitting balls on range.  He was there, of course.  He has a lot of Australian players and other players out here.  I wanted to just see if he would have five minutes.”

“I remember I wanted to do it but I was a little bit shy and I was like, this is kind of awkward.  And Kyle said — he had said to me, specifically, my caddie, he said, ‘Do it.  You won’t regret it.'”

“I said, okay, fine.  I just went over and said, ‘Hi, I’m Mo Martin.'”

And he was so polite.  He took off his hat and said, ‘Hi, I’m Ian Triggs.'”

“I said, ‘Do you have five minutes?’  I said, ‘Would you take a look?'”

“And he said he was quite busy, but he said, ‘If you’ll be here this afternoon,’ he’ll come back.”

“So I really want to thank him for taking a chance on me, too.”

Martin had another man who made a significant difference in her life, her grandfather, Lincoln Martin, who died at 102. He played a special part in her life:

“Yeah, he changed my life.  He made everything so much brighter and better.  I miss him but I’m so grateful that I had the time I had with him.  I’m incredibly blessed.”

But she got a late start on that relationship because of the friction between her father and grandfather. But when she finally got together with him, he hadn’t missed what was going on in her life:

“Yeah, family dynamics are funny.  My dad didn’t really have a relationship with him. My grandpa didn’t agree with some things he did.”

“So when my dad passed away when I was 19, I knew my grandpa was somebody I really wanted to get to know.  So I made a trip up to his ranch and I walked into his office and there were newspaper articles and pictures.”

“I started crying, I was overwhelmed, because I didn’t know he was that involved in my life.  Like he was just a silent follower, but he was caring and loving me all the time.”

Does she appreciate this win all that much more because she didn’t arrive on the Tour as a “can’t miss” superstar? And once again, this theme of gratefulness comes to the fore:

“You know what, that’s hard to say.  It definitely lowered my expectations, but I think I’m — I mean, I don’t know if this was my family or just my upbringing or me.  I’m so grateful like for everything; for the challenges, for the failures, for the successes.”

“I just want to say that there are so many amazing people in this world, and not enough is said about the good people and the good deeds, and so many people do things unspoken, unspoken kindness.  So many people have helped me when I’ve needed it.  I’ve definitely had a few angels in my life.”

Makes you just want to hug her.

This entry was posted in Accomplishment, Awareness, Coaching, Consciousness, Expectations, Failure, Intention, LPGA Tour, Mastery, Patience, Possiblity, Self Realization, Spirituality, Women In Golf and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.