Mo Martin: A Cinderella Story
By Jesy Odio '15
Published Jul 21, 2014 8:00 AM
What looked like an overnight success for the 2005 UCLA grad actually followed years of hard work.
The story of how Mo Martin ’05 won the Women’s British Open is so magical that she calls it a “Cinderella story.”
At the Royal Birkdale Golf Club, with a perfect gust of wind blowing at a brusque speed, the golfer and UCLA alumna eagled the 18th hole and won the championship when her other competitors could not beat her 1-under-par score. When she returned to the course, Martin’s competitors greeted her with a shower of champagne to celebrate her sudden victory. Arnold Palmer also joined in the celebration and sent a note congratulating her on her first win.
But what seems like an overnight success in the history of women’s golf is actually the result of more than 10 years of rigorous training and perseverance. Martin’s career in golf began at age 4 with a Super Eight, a practice green and Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons. Her father filmed her swings and built a hitting net for Mo and her brother to practice at home after school.
"We didn't have a lot of money," Martin says. "We couldn't afford lessons, but he knew it was going to be a great sport, so he taught my brother and me."
Her love for the sport continued during college. While earning a degree in psychology, she played all four years at UCLA, and in 2002, won the title of Bruins’ Most Valuable Player.
"No one can do this on their own,” she says. "So many people have come together to make this possible. Just to get me to junior tournaments, to help me travel, to have the opportunity to walk-on at UCLA.”
One person who showed her never-ending support was her grandfather, Lincoln Martin. Although the two did not have a strong bond growing up, he followed her career all along.
"I walked into his office, and there were these newspaper articles and pictures," she remembers. "I started crying. I was overwhelmed because I didn't know he was that involved in my life."
During the last few years, Lincoln attended many of her early Ladies’ Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tours and passed out pins that said, “Go Mo." A couple of months before the British Open, he passed away at age 102. She plans to purchase his ranch in Porterville, California with part of the spoils from her win.
Standing 5-foot-2 and ranked in 99th position, Mo Martin has proven that nothing can beat the heart of a champion.