Martin, 28, of Altadena, Calif., earned full LPGA status after six seasons on the LPGA Futures Tour. She posted her career-best year in 2011. In 16 starts, she recorded 11 top-10 finishes and seven top-fives, including a win at the Eagle Classic in Richmond, Va. That win pushed her from No. 5 to No. 3 on the money list with two tournaments remaining.
Martin led the tour with a scoring average of 70.936, and for the second consecutive year, she also led the LPGA Futures Tour in putting average at 28.522. In addition, she finished the year leading in sub-par rounds (53 percent), par-3 average (2.995 strokes), and was second in sub-par holes (152 in 47 rounds) and birdies (152).
Here’s what Martin has to say about her six Futures Tour seasons and her thoughts on heading to the LPGA in 2012:
LPGA: Let’s start with “Mona,” your long putter. When did you start using it?
MARTIN: When I played in Japan at age 8, I used a long putter. I switched to “Mona” in my mid-teens and I’ve been using that putter ever since.
LPGA: Why a long putter?
MARTIN: In the mid-1980s, a bunch of PGA pros tried to ban the long putter. My dad, being a defense attorney, figured there must be an advantage to long putters if they were trying to ban it, so he went out and bought one for me. With the exception of one week in Syracuse [N.Y.] on the Futures Tour, I’ve always played with a long putter. That week, I wasn’t putting well and just tried to mix it up and see a different vantage point with my putting, but I went back to what worked best for me.
LPGA: A lot of players would not have stuck out six years on the Futures Tour. Why did you?
MARTIN: I had some victories early that propelled me forward. It was never a hard decision to continue because I’ve enjoyed it and enjoyed my journey. Fortunately, I had sponsors that believed in me and family that supported me. As long as I continue to wake up in the morning and enjoy my life, I’m going to keep playing. Some say that “the third time is the charm,” but it was six for me and the timing was perfect. Those six years allowed me to learn how to play my best, how to manage myself as a professional, and how to construct a really great support system.
LPGA: How would you describe your 2011 season on the LPGA Futures Tour?
MARTIN: It was incredibly consistent. It was fun to get into the rhythm of being in contention week in and week out.
LPGA: How do you feel about earning your LPGA card for 2012?
MARTIN: It’s clearly a dream come true and it’s what we’re all playing for. So many players dream about this and work toward it.
LPGA: How will you prepare for the 2012 LPGA season?
MARTIN: I’ll take some time off to give my mind and body a break and go to Europe to caddie for a friend for two weeks. Then I’ll start training when I get home with Dan Farley, my physical trainer in Pasadena [Calif.], who sets up a program for me in golf strength and conditioning. I’ll do a lot of the same things I did leading up to the 2011 season on the Futures Tour – like practice at a little nine-hole public course in Altadena [Calif.] and practice on the same public range. I also practice on an 18-hole lighted par-3 course that stays open until 10 p.m. I play skins games there with a bunch of local guys. One day I birdied nine of 18 holes and made one skin! And there’s a guy there who has had 42 holes-in-one. It’s crazy! I’ll also play and practice up at River Island Golf Club in Porterville [Calif.] when I go up to see my grandfather.
LPGA: What are you looking forward to the most on the 2012 LPGA Tour?
MARTIN: I’m going to be playing on the most competitive women’s golf stage in the world. And I’m looking forward to Lincoln Martin [her grandfather] getting a lot of press! Laugter I’m looking forward to locker rooms, food, new faces and all the little daily surprises that go along with all the new venues I’ll be seeing.
LPGA: Have you set any goals yet for the LPGA Tour?
MARTIN: Figuratively speaking, I’ve already had trouble keeping my card. Laugter I was cleaning out my rental car following our last tournament in Albany, N.Y., and I put my [oversize replica LPGA Tour] card on top of my car and then forgot about it and drove off. A friend was behind me and saw it blow off the back of my car. So, I got my card back in the middle of a street! But as far as 2012 goes, I just want to continue doing the good things I did in 2011.
LPGA: If you weren’t a golfer, what else would you want to do?
MARTIN: Maybe I’d be a veterinarian. My mom was a registered nurse, so she taught me about caretaking pretty early. I also wanted to study marine biology, but at UCLA, I would have needed to go to Catalina Island for a couple of months and that wouldn’t work as a member of the golf team
LPGA: Do you have any hidden talents?
MARTIN: I guess I’m pretty talented on my rollerblades. There was a library near my house and I used to jump down their stairs wearing my skates when I was younger. I jumped off curbs and stuff.
LPGA: How about your nickname, “Mighty Mo?” How did that originate?
MARTIN: My dad started calling me “Mighty Mo” when I was probably 3 or 4. He said it was my indomitable will that was like the famous “Mighty MO” (USS Missouri) battleship that never sunk. I guess both that ship and I were determined fighters. Of course, he would tease me and also call me “Mighty Mouse.”
LPGA: What’s at the top of the list on your iPod?
MARTIN: Davie Bowie, Katie Perry, Andrea Bocelli, dance mixes, and Irish singer Janet Devlin.
LPGA: Are there any TV shows on which you’ll be catching up this off-season?
MARTIN: I don’t watch a lot of TV. If I read magazines, I’ll read National Geographic. I like to read books and l listen to Eckart Tolle’s books on tape, like The Power of Now. I’m reading John Carlin’s Playing The Enemy, which is the book on which the movie “Invictus” is based.
LPGA: Everyone on the LPGA Futures Tour has “adopted” your 99-year-old grandfather, Lincoln Martin. He is blessed with good health and has been able to see all of your wins. What has his role been in your career?
MARTIN: My grandfather has multiplied the joy I get out my career. He treats me the same if I miss a cut or if I win a tournament -- and I’ve done both. Sometimes golf becomes all encompassing, but our lives are so much more important than our golf games. I’ve learned a lot about life from him. I spend a lot of time at the ranch with my grandfather. He lives on 100 acres of citrus groves with two ponds, a putting green and two cats that bring rodents into the house and let them go. His needs are simple. He never complains. He enjoys life. And he reminds me of perspective about the things I do and the life I live.