England's Hall wins Women's British Open as Aussie Lee fades


England's Georgia Hall produced a scintillating five-under-par 67 in the final round to clinch victory at the Ricoh Women's British Open in Lancashire on Sunday.

While the bogey-free effort had her at seven-under overall and was her third consecutive under-par round of the tournament, it still meant the former world No 1 was tied for ninth and six shots behind leader Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand.

Hall is the first British victor since Scotland's Catriona Matthew, also at Lytham in 2009, and joins Laura Davies, who has four, Alison Nicholas (1997 US Women's Open) and Karen Stupples (2004 British Open) as English winners of a women's major.

"It is too good to be true", Hall said.

"It was my goal when I was nine-years old on the putting green, pretending to hole six-footers for the British Open".

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"I've had a game plan", Pornanong said.

"I was very confident going into this event from a year ago (equal third) and I love links golf and I'm playing in England, which is very rare".

Both players birdied the par-5 15th after Hall's eagle attempt from 15ft caught the edge of the hole and stayed out, but it did not take long for Hall to get her nose in front thanks to another birdie on the next.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch praised Hall's performance, saying: "Congratulations to Georgia Hall on winning her first major in what was an incredible performance. It's going to be so long next year, I probably won't even recognize it when I come back", he said.

The Thai finished runner up for the fifth time in her career, which is also her career best in a major championship.

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"I don't know what it is, but it is more enjoyable and fun the bigger the competition is".

The key stretch came when Hall made three birdies in four holes beginning at the 13th and took a one-stroke lead when she rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt at the 16th. "I don't believe it has sunk in yet".

Playing in the final group with Rory McIlroy, the 25-year-old Thomas made only two birdies.

At the eighth Phatlum dropped a shot for just the second time all tournament when she bogeyed after veering right into deep rough off the tee. "I'm in a good position going into Sunday".

That same year, Hall represented Team GB at the 2013 Youth Olympic Festival where she won two golds and was part of the European team at the Junior Solheim Cup. Brown - he of "Ken on the Course" fame - walked nine holes with her on Wednesday, while as the man who won the Open at Lytham in 1996 Lehman's input was also valued. Georgia Hall thrilled the home crowd when she joined a pantheon of players who have conquered Royal Lytham's links - Annika Sörenstam, Bobby Jones, Gary Player, Seve, and so many others.

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Australia's Minjee Lee and Japan's Mamiko Higa were tied for second with Hall overnight and they both shot 71 to slip to joint-fourth on 10-under alongside South Korea's Park Sung-hyun (69).