New champ Martin leads LPGA back to States

Mo Martin

Mo Martin of the United States walks to the 18th green during the final round of the Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale on July 13, 2014 in Southport, England.

July 14 2014, Neal Reid

Mo Martin won’t have too much time to process her dramatic win at the RICOH Women’s British Open this week before she turns her attention to the Tour’s next domestic event.

The 31-year-old Rolex First-Time Winner returns to the United States from across the pond with a beautiful new championship trophy, and she’ll bring it to Sylvania, Ohio, where she and the rest of the LPGA players are set to tee it up at the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and OI. Martin is set to tee it up at Highland Meadows Golf Club along with a host of talented Tour stars itching to earn the winner’s share of a $1.4 million purse.

World No. 1 Stacy Lewis will be there, along with RICOH runner-up Suzann Pettersen and second-ranked Lydia Ko. In addition to Martin, Lewis and Ko, 2014 tournament winners Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson and Paula Creamer are in the field as well.

Beatriz Recari birdied the final hole a year ago to edge 2008 champ Creamer by a stroke, and they will be two of a few past champions teeing it up in Ohio this week. So Yeon Ryu (2012), Na Yeon Choi (2010) and Heather Bowie Young (2005) will be there, along with Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak, who has owned this tournament like no other player.

Pak and Highland Meadows Golf Club have gotten along famously since she turned pro in 1998. She won the event that year, repeated in 1999 and also reigned supreme in 2001, 2003 and 2007, so you can never count Pak out in this event.

Whoever wins will need to go low on the par-71, 6,512-yard course, as each of the last eight tournament champions finished in double digits under par. Pak set the tournament record of 23-under in 1998, and Ryu flirted with that two years ago while winning at 20-under, so there are plenty of birdies to be had.

Every number in the 60s – even Creamer’s opening-round 60 in 2008 – has been fired at Highland Meadows, opening the door for the question if a sub-60 round is out there. Players surely would say yes, and it will be fun to watch them chase it down.

This event has been the site for a number of first-time winners and has allowed lesser-known players to step into the spotlight and shine. That very well could be the case again this week as a diverse and hungry field prepares for 72 holes of birdie hunting.

Martin’s emotional triumph could either carry her into the hunt again this week, or be the source of a “hangover” of sorts that will leave her on the outside looking in. Time will tell which of the two materializes, but it’s safe to say Martin will have a great week reliving her magical final-hole eagle to win a major.

Topics: Marathon Classic, Tournament Preview

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