Georgia Hall wins 2018 Ricoh Women's British Open after thrilling final round


Georgia Hall claimed the 2018 Ricoh Women's British Open title by two shots after a thrilling final round at Royal Lytham & St Annes

Georgia Hall was unwavering in her composure throughout the final round of the Ricoh Women's British Open as she overcame a field of the World's best players to claim her first major title. 

It was a final day battle between her and Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum, but Hall held her nerve over the final few holes to ensure her maiden major victory in front of large home crowds.  

Hall had trailed her playing partner for much of the round before momentum shifted in her favour with a birdie at the 13th. Two more at the 15th and 16th gave her a one-shot advantage, and by the 18th tee Hall held a three-shot lead after Phatlum's costly double-bgoey on the penultimate hole. 

The 22-year-old hit her second shot to the front of the large final-hole green, and needed three putts to finish out her round - her first bogey of the day. It didn't matter though, as with Phatlum carding a par, her tap in meant Hall had just become the fifth British women's major winner. 

"It's too good to be true really," Hall told Sky Sports after her victory. "I don't think it's all sunk in for me.

"It was my goal when I was nine years old on the putting green: 'This six-footer's for the British Open' and to actually have that - and luckily it was just a tap-in - I'm over the moon. I'm so happy.

"I promised myself not to get ahead of myself and feel any emotions, which is sometimes hard because I wanted to take it all in. I was staying very calm and patient and it was very close up to the last two holes and I was just trying to hole the putts."

It wasn't just Hall's first major, but her first title on either the LET or LPGA Tour too - something Hall said she often joked about to herself. 

"To win on The European Tour and the LPGA is one thing," said Hall. "but to win a major I think is completely different, on a much bigger scale and against the best players in the world.

"So you know, I always joked to myself, because I never really -- I haven't really won a tournament since I turned pro, that the first one I win would be a major. I always used to say that. I've actually done it now. I think to save the best."

Hall finished third in this event last year before putting in a stand-out performance for the European Solheim Cup team - something she said gave her confidence coming in to this event. 

"Last year was a learning curve for me and I got so much experience in the British Open and the Solheim Cup and I learnt that I can play and compete against the best in the world. I was so confident coming into this event after last year."

And victory, which comes with $490,000 prize money, was made even more special as she had her dad caddying for her this week - something he used to do when she was an amateur. 

"It was amazing to have him caddie for me and be there with me obviously when I won," Hall said. "It's a really nice thing. You know, he's helped me growing up and yeah, helped me with my golf and helped me as a person, as well, growing up, so it's very special to have him there, and also my mum and boyfriend, as well.

"Growing up, he's helped me because obviously he's caddied for me as an amateur, as well, and I've won some good amateur events and he was caddying. So I think just saying the right things at the right time, and he's probably more nervous than I am, but somehow keeping me not really nervous, as well."

And Hall is now hoping that her victory will inspire the next generation of young female golfers, having been surprised at the attention she received from young fans after her final round. 

"I couldn't believe so many young girls and boys were watching me, wanting a picture or an autograph," she said.

"Hopefully I can encourage a lot of young girls out there to take up the game. I want to be a good role model for young girls in Britain."

There's no time to rest up for the latest major champion though. She joins fellow major champion Dame Laura Davies in Gleneagles this week for the European Team Championships. 

"I can't let Laura down," she said when asked if she would still attend. "no, of course, I'm really looking forward to playing with her.

"I just like to go there and have fun, and hopefully we can do well and play the Solheim Cup course next year, as well, I'd like to see it. Yeah, I love match play, so yeah, it will be good."

Georgia is now the fifth British winner of a Women's Major, following Laura Davies (four), Alison Nicholas (one), Karen Stupples (one) and Catriona Matthew (one): 

Georgia Halls wins Ricoh British Women's Open: How it happened

Hall was agressive from the out-set, reaching the top of the leaderboard early with playing partner Pornanong Phatlum thanks to a birdie at the very first hole. 

Phatlum regained the advantage at the next with a 25-footer for birdie, setting the tone for a tussle throughout the day between the two players in front of packed crowds in Lytham.

With three birdies in a row Phatlum pulled two clear by the 6th, but a costly drive in to the rough on the eighth gave back a shot as Hall continued her bogey-free run. 

The pair exchanged a run of pars from the 9th, but by the 13th hole, momentum finally shifted in Georgia's favour as she converted her excellent approach shot for birdie and a share of the lead.

On the par-five 15th, Hall had a chance to go one clear, but her eagle lipped as Phatlum also guaranteed a birdie with a superb third to under a foot. She wouldn't make the same mistake at the 16th, holing a 20 footer for birdie to move in front for the very first time. 

Phatlum found a difficult pot bunker with her drive on the 17th, and rather than just splash out she tried to advance it as far as she could - but ended up pulling it in to thick rough on the left side of the fairway. Clearly flustered, she missed a short putt for bogey, handing Hall a three shot lead standing on the 18th. 

Hall kept her composure as she hit a great drive and second shot to the front of the green - giving herself a long putt for birdie. In the end, she needed three putts to get down, but the final one was a tap-in, giving her a two shot victory and her first major title.