Martin wins Women's British with closing eagle

Southport, England ( - Mo Martin's first eagle of the season came at a perfect time on Sunday. She eagled the 18th hole and that helped her win the Women's British Open.

Martin's closing eagle gave her a round of even-par 72, just the second even- par round of the day, and left her at 1-under-par 287.

She headed to the clubhouse when the final group was playing the 14th hole. When neither player in the final group could match Martin, the title was hers.

When Martin led after the second round at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, it was the first time she had held the overnight lead after any round on the LPGA Tour. Now she is a major champion.

"This is absolutely amazing. I have so many people to thank that made this happen because this didn't happen on my own," Martin stated. "I think I'm living the dream every day, really no matter what happens, but this absolutely fantastic. This is the definition of unbelievable."

Suzann Pettersen, who needed to eagle the last to force a playoff, closed with a birdie to post 3-over 75. The two-time major winner was joined in second place at even-par 288 by 2012 LPGA Champion Shanshan Feng, who also carded a 75 on Sunday.

Third-round leader Inbee Park struggled to a 5-over 77 in windy conditions. She ended in fourth at 1-over 289. Park also could have forced a playoff with a birdie at the last, but instead she faltered to a closing bogey.

Jessica Korda (74), Angela Stanford (75), Julieta Granada (77) and Eun-Hee Ji (76) shared fifth place at plus-3. Laura Davies (73), Sun Ju Ahn (79) and Marina Alex (76) were one stroke back of them at 4-over 292.

Last year's winner Stacy Lewis stumbled to a 6-over 78. She shared 12th place with Gwladys Nocera (77), Azahara Munoz (75), Charley Hull (78) and Anna Nordqvist (72), who had the only other even-par round of the day.

The round started with 13 players in red figures. As the wind blew throughout the day, scores began to soar. Martin teed off six groups ahead of the leaders and played a steady round.

After two bogeys and a birdie on the front nine, Martin fell to even-par for the championship with a bogey on 13. She remained there with four pars in row.

At the par-5 18th, Martin found the fairway off the tee. She played a 3-wood to the green and it tracked perfectly at the hole. Martin's ball caromed off the flagstick and stopped six feet away.

Martin drained the putt for eagle, then had to sit and wait for over an hour as the last groups finished.

"I loved the golf course. Me and my caddie put some really good work in," Martin said. "A 100 percent, I will never forget that shot. I will dream that and that's something that you just can't make up. It's unbelievable and so exciting."

Feng, Park and Pettersen were the only ones with realistic chances to force a playoff. Feng bogeyed three in a row from the second, but bounced back with birdies at five and six. She dropped to minus-1 with a bogey on the seventh.

After eight straight pars from the eighth, Feng missed an 8-foot par putt at the 16th to dip to even-par. She closed with a pair of pars.

Park and Pettersen were the final twosome and both had their chance at the end. Park made the turn with a 2-stroke leads despite three bogeys and two birdies on the front nine.

She made her first double-bogey of the week at the 10th and followed with a bogey on 11. Park was suddenly back to even-par. She rolled in an 18-footer for birdie on No. 13 and was tied for the lead with Feng, and then Martin.

Park bogeyed 14 to fall one back. Pettersen opened with a double-bogey at the first. She birdied the sixth, but bogeyed the eighth and made the turn at minus-1.

Pettersen dropped another stroke at 10, then had a costly double-bogey at the 13th. She fought back with a birdie on the 17th to get to plus-1.

It came down to 18, Park needed a birdie and Pettersen an eagle to force a playoff. Pettersen found a greenside bunker in two, and Park landed in the same bunker with her third after a poor drive into the rough.

Pettersen blasted to about two feet before Park left her shot well short. With that the title was Martin's. Pettersen did make birdie to tie for second.

NOTES: Martin, who had just under $600,000 in career earnings before this event, earned $474,575 for the win ... Martin's best previous finish was share of third place at the 2013 Kia Classic ... This is the first time since 1999 that the first three major champions were Americans (Lexi Thompson at the Kraft Nabisco and Michelle Wie at the U.S. Women's Open) ... Feng was the last player to have her first career win be a major ... The LPGA Tour is in Ohio next week, where Beatriz Recari will defend her title at the Marathon Classic.