Hall targets top ranking after breakthrough year

Georgia Hall's Women's British Open victory came after 15 years of hard work amid challenging financial circumstances.
Georgia Hall's Women's British Open victory came after 15 years of hard work amid challenging financial circumstances.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Georgia Hall had her breakthrough victory by winning the Women's British Open in August, and now for the first time in her career, she can approach a new year without any financial concerns.

"World No. 1 is my next big thing," she said casually as she reflected on a stellar 2018 and set her targets for the new year.

At the start of this year, she had never won an LPGA tournament as a professional. She ends it having celebrated the fact her first victory in Europe happened to be a Major, and that she has broken into the world's top 10. The world No. 8 will also be in the field for next year's HSBC Women's World Championship in Singapore.

The 22-year-old from Bournemouth had to struggle to reach this point because, as the daughter of a plasterer, she did not always have the money to play in tournaments for which she had already qualified.

Her life is much easier now, as she received a winner's cheque of £375,000 (S$651,000) after winning the Open at Royal Lytham, and the clarity of Hall's ambition is soon apparent.

"This year, I set myself five targets," she said. "I wrote them down and signed them. The first was to just win a tournament. The second was to do really well in the Open. I covered two ticks by winning it.

"I wanted to break into the top 50 and then the top 20. I thought that was maybe too big a goal. But I've done that. So that's four big ticks. What else did I want to be?"

Hall looked at her caddie-cum-boyfriend Harry Tyrrell, who nodded when she said: "Rookie of the Year on the LPGA Tour. I've played very well this year, but what happened is fair enough."

She finished second behind South Korean Ko Jin-young. "That's OK. I got all my other goals. I haven't set out my targets for next year. But I already know that world No. 1 is first on the list," Hall said.

Her Open victory came after 15 years of hard work amid challenging financial circumstances.

"My dad was a plasterer and my mum a hairdresser. He played golf and took me down to the local driving range when I was seven," said Hall. "I then joined the kids' club and I was the only girl. There were seven levels, and I got to the top level quickly. I was beating all the boys and they used to hate that.

"I didn't know it at the time, but it was tough for my parents. They always had to sell some things for me to have enough money for golf lessons and tournaments.

"It was hard and I missed three Majors I'd qualified for because of a lack of funds. I was in the top three in the world as an amateur, but we couldn't afford to get me there.

"I could only get to the British Open. That was frustrating, but I always said I will be fine in the end."

Her life is very different now. But Hall also points out the wide discrepancy between the money won on the men and women's tours.

"On the LPGA, our prize money's going up every year, but I don't think it'll ever be the same," she said. "What I won at the British Open is great, but look at what the male winner gets."

Francesco Molinari, who won the 2018 Open, received a cheque for £1.42 million (S$2.46 million) which meant he earned £1,045,000 more than Hall.

"We can't do anything about that big difference. We work just as hard as the men. If you watch an LPGA tournament, the standard is incredible. But the men earn so much more," Hall added.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2018, with the headline 'Hall targets top ranking after breakthrough year'. Print Edition | Subscribe