Martin thumbs her nose at pain, uncertainty

After a thumb injury that sidelined her last year, Mo Martin needs her mojo back to defend her Women's British Open crown.
After a thumb injury that sidelined her last year, Mo Martin needs her mojo back to defend her Women's British Open crown.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TURNBERRY (Scotland) • Mo Martin produced a touch of magic to win the Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale last year.

At one point over the last 12 months the American wondered if her spectacular final hole tap-in eagle would mark the end of her Major career.

The 32-year-old suffered a thumb injury the week after her famous triumph on England's Lancashire coast and she spent months on the sidelines. So, she is relieved to be at Turnberry this week, and fit enough to defend the title.

"I tried not to think about not playing again," she said. "But I knew if it didn't get better... I mean, the pain was excruciating. It was like a pinched disc in my thumb. I would feel the pain at the top of the swing.

"I was told there was no surgical options. When I heard that, I cried. Not that I wanted an operation - but it would have been an option."

She had to pull out of the final 2014 Major, the Evian Championship in France, but she had a splint inserted eight months ago and now she manages to play with just a strap on the left thumb.

"But it was devastating," she continued. "I was playing fantastic at the time of the British Open and was in contention the week after. But that was when I suffered the injury and had to back away for two months."

World No. 3 Stacy Lewis, the winner at St Andrews two years ago, had an adventurous start to the week. Her golf clubs missed the connecting flight from London to Glasgow on Monday night. They were eventually put on the last flight north so the American and her caddie, Travis Wilson, jumped in a rental car to go on the hour-long journey to collect them.

"But about five miles (8km) short of the airport we suffered a puncture," she explained. "We finally worked out how to change the tyre, got to the airport and, luckily, the clubs were there. We eventually got back to Turnberry at 12.30am."

Heavy rain lashed the course on Tuesday, but the world's leading women relished the challenge.

Eighteen-year- old Lydia Ko, the world No. 2, played in the Scottish Open at nearby Dundonald Links, and she reckoned her top-five finish was ideal preparation.

"This is the hardest tournament to prepare for," claimed the New Zealander, who reached world No. 1 at the start of the year before being overtaken by South Korea's Park In Bee.

"The big thing on a links course is to stay out of the pot bunkers and away from the long rough. Accurate driving is the key."

Michelle Wie is another suffering from injury. She has hip and ankle problems and was wearing a surgical boot on her left foot.

"It's just for protection," the American insisted. "But I wouldn't be playing if it wasn't the British Open."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2015, with the headline 'Martin thumbs her nose at pain, uncertainty'. Print Edition | Subscribe