Masters namesake Georgia Hall 1 shot back at Women's British Open

LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Georgia Hall of England plays her second shot on the 3rd hole during day two of Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes on August 3, 2018 in Lytham St Annes, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Masters namesake Georgia Hall 1 shot back at Women's British Open

LPGA Tour

Masters namesake Georgia Hall 1 shot back at Women's British Open

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England ­– Wayne Hall only started daydreaming of daughter Georgia winning a British Open title 15 years ago. Georgia, 22, was born in Bournemouth, England, and named as a tribute to Nick Faldo’s triumph at the 1996 Masters. From Day 1 she’s been linked to major championship golf.

Wayne, a former single-digit handicap who made his living as a plasterer, is on the bag again this week at Royal Lytham, where Georgia finds herself one shot back of leader Pornanong Phatlum. Last year at Kingsbarns, Hall played in the final group on Sunday and took a share of third. In Wayne’s imagination, he’s wiping away tears on the 18th green.

“It will happen one day for sure,” he said confidently.

At Royal Lytham, the most bunkered course on the British Open rota, Hall has managed (to the best of her memory) to avoid the severely penalizing fairway bunkers. It’s a big reason she has played bogey-free the first 36 holes. Europe’s breakout star at last year’s Solheim Cup carded a 4-under 68 in Round 2 while Phatlum posted her second consecutive 67.

Hall is joined by Minjee Lee (70) and Mamiko Higa (69) at 9 under. Both players Lee and Higa suffered double-bogeys late in the round. Lee, a four-time winner on the LPGA, looks to take her reputation around the world to a new level with a victory this week.

Higa, on the other hand, isn’t well-known outside of Japan. A four-time winner on the JLPGA, Higa recently made headlines in her country when she became engaged to, Ikioi Shota, a popular sumo wrestler.

Playing in her third Women’s British, Higa spoke like a links veteran about the lost ball she suffered on the 17th that erased her two-shot lead.

“I wasn’t panicked,” she said. “You know, if you’re playing on links course, it happens.”

Hall, who has been working toward this week for several months, claims to have been calm throughout the week at Royal Lytham. She has been here before, of course, both at Kingsbarns and rowdy Des Moines, Iowa, for the Solheim. In her singles match against Paula Creamer, Hall prompted European fans to cheer throughout her tee shot. The rush left her shaking for three holes.

At Royal Lytham, Hall has fed off the home crowd, soaking up the rare experience to compete on a links course. Only two British players – Karen Stupples (2004) and Catriona Matthew (2009) have managed to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open since it became a major in 2001.

Hall was 13 years old when Matthew won at Lytham but doesn’t recall watching any of it.

“I didn’t watch TV at that point,” said Hall, who won the 2012 British Girls and 2013 British Ladies Amateur. The latter earned her a spot in the Women’s British Open at St. Andrews, where she shared Smyth Salver honors with Lydia Ko.

Hall’s big afternoon plans on Friday included a manicure and a nap. She seemed remarkably smooth about the whole situation, saying matter-of-factly that the goal coming into the week was to improve on last year’s third-place performance.

“We’re only halfway through,” she said. “So I’m going to just try to not feel anything.”

Can’t promise the same for Wayne.

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