At LA Open, Mo Martin goes home to Wilshire along with band of Bruins

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At LA Open, Mo Martin goes home to Wilshire along with band of Bruins

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At LA Open, Mo Martin goes home to Wilshire along with band of Bruins

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Every time Mo Martin plays Wilshire Country Club, she thinks back to when her UCLA teammate, Laura Moffat, shot 69 there. The Bruins teed off before 7 a.m. on Wednesdays for qualifying at Wilshire, and Moffat’s performance made a big impression on the walk-on from nearby Altadena.

On a lighter note, the 36-year-old Martin also hasn’t forgotten the time she got scolded for wearing shorts that weren’t country-club length and was forced to put on rain pants.

“They had a strict rule, 3 inches above the knee!” Martin explained. “I wasn’t wearing anything risqué.”

Walk-ons don’t often go on to win a major, but “Mighty Mo” is anything but ordinary. It’s important to look in the rearview mirror, says the 2014 Women’s British Open champion. Both humbling and satisfying.

“Just to see how far I’ve come,” she said. “I’m now in my eighth year on the LPGA, and I’ve shot 69 quite a few times since then.”

On Tuesday at this week’s Hugel-Air Premia LA Open, where Moriya Jutanugarn is defending champ, the Bruins in the field at Wilshire will gather for dinner. Brianna Do, Tiffany Joh, Bronte Law, Alison Lee, Ryann O’Toole, Jane Park and Mariajo Uribe join Martin as players in this week’s event who competed for UCLA head coach Carrie Forsyth. Martin, who was teammates with associate head coach Alicia Um Holmes, said many of the alumni are still heavily involved in fundraising for the program.

Martin learned to swing dance in college. She said there’s a good salsa club not far from Wilshire along with Urth Caffe, Salt & Straw, excellent Korean barbecue and taco trucks. There’s shopping on Melrose, the Griffith Park Observatory, Capitol Records on Vine. The hills, the beach, the theater.

You can even see the Hollywood sign from the ninth tee box at Wilshire.

“It’s really kind of the heart of L.A.,” said Martin, “kind of the crossroads of everything California and the U.S. has to offer.”

Martin thrives on tough courses. (She won the British with an eagle on the 72nd hole at Birkdale.) Wilshire plays firm and fast and was among her favorites in college. There was no practicing at Wilshire back then. Players on the team left campus around 5:30 a.m. and went straight from the parking lot to the first tee.

Martin’s body won’t allow her to do that anymore. In fact, she had to pull out of the Lotte Championship on Oahu because of a sore back. The injury flared up over the weekend at the ANA Inspiration, but she was able to medicate and finish in a share of 21st.

Last week, however, Martin opted to withdraw. There are worse places to take a forced vacation.

She went to the North Shore and swam with the turtles at what used to be a somewhat private lagoon before it became internet famous. She went to Pearl Harbor and took a guided tour of the USS Missouri, or “Mighty Mo,” the ship Martin was named after.

“(My dad) always said I was so stubborn,” said Martin, “that it reminded him of the Battleship Mighty Mo.”

Such persistence is what helped Martin beat the odds to the LPGA. This is a woman whose first golf bag was made out of one of those cardboard tubes you’d mail a poster in, wrapped in black electrical tape with a rope attached.

Martin didn’t have a full set of matching clubs until she arrived at UCLA. She worked her way into a golf scholarship, then spent six years grinding on the Symetra Tour before reaching the LPGA.

Few players on tour carry the kind of perspective and wisdom Martin brings to the party. She heads back to her roots hoping to play but will know more after a Monday doctor’s appointment.

“I’m in good hands,” she said.

Only mighty good will do. Gwk


 

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