Charley Hull had been waiting six years to add more silverware to her American dream but at last the Englishwoman lifted her second LPGA Tour title on Sunday.
There has never been any questioning of the 26-year-old’s talent – only her win-ratio, with just four wins to her prodigious name since bursting onto the scene as a record-breaking 17-year-old.
But the ball-striking quality has remained apparent and Hull gave her US Tour Championship crown of 2016 some much overdue company with a brilliant seven-under 64 at The Ascendant LPGA in Texas to see off the likes of Lydia Ko and crack Chinese youngster Xiyu Lin.
Showing remarkable composure down the stretch, Hull reeled off three birdies in succession from the 12th and then made a four on the par-five 17th to afford herself the advantage she was never to lose.
On that crucial penultimate hole, with the £230,000 winning cheque on the line, Hull holed a downhill birdie on her way to an 18-under total, with Lin (65) one behind and Ko (65) a further shot back in third. Hull moves back into the world’s top 25, reclaiming the top Briton spot off Georgia Hall, who was there to spray her with champagne on that final green.
“I've put in some good work this year and especially with my putting,” Hull said. “I find that putting is the most boring part of the game to practice and I don’t practice it as much as I should. But I’ve been doing like two hours each day, just trying to fix it, and it's paid off. I feel very proud of myself.”
On the DP World Tour, considering Rory McIlroy rates St Andrews as his favourite golf venue in the world, the Old Course has hardly reciprocated the sentiment.
Two months on from just missing out in the 150th Open Championship at the Home of Golf, the Northern Irishman finished two behind Ryan Fox at the Dunhill Links Championship after a thrilling 66.
So McIlroy’s wait for victory on the hallowed ground continues. At the moment it is a Swilcan Bridge too far.
Of course, this close run in Fife did not begin to bring the depth of disappointment which followed his Claret Jug defeat to Australian Cam Smith in July. This tie for fourth was McIlroy’s third top five in his last four events – including a victory in the FedEx Cup in August – and there are clearly no concerns for the world No 2.
“I’m playing really well, which I keep saying,” he said “I started today eight shots back. All I was thinking about was a top-10 and finishing the week on a positive. I’m the one who brings all the [world ranking] points with me to this event. I’m trying to take away as many as possible, too.”
Fox struck an emotional figure after his 68 for a 15-under total gave him a one-shot win over England’s Callum Shinkwin (67) and Swede Alex Noren (69). With father Grant – the former All Blacks fly-half – Fox is a part of Kiwi sporting royalty, but it was an Australian blueblood who he recalled in his victory speech.
“To be honest the only person I can really think of at the moment is Shane Warne,” said Fox, who partnered the late Australian record-breaking bowler to come second in the Dunhill team tournament last year.
“He meant a lot to me and this event and was a great mate. It's a terrible shame he's not here. I'm going to enjoy celebrating this one with the family."
Grant was there to witness his son coming four shots off the lead in the final round to produce three birdies in the first seven holes to lift his third Tour title and so enter the world’s top 30 for the first time. Not only that but the victory has all but guaranteed the 35-year-old a debut in next year’s Masters and the big-hitter will head to Georgia armed with the confidence of success at another iconic course.
“I don't think it gets any better as a golfer to be honest,” Fox said. “Obviously winning The Open would be the next level up but to say I've won a tournament on the Old Course coming down the last few holes on Sunday, which so many great champions have done, not only in this event but in Opens gone past, to add my name on that list is very, very cool.”
At the World Long-Drive Championship in Nevada, Bryson DeChambeau was beaten in the final by Martin Borgmeier, with his best drive of 415 yards falling 11 yards of his German rival. “The champion was impressed. “Bryson is a professional golfer and he’s putting up these ball speed numbers …nobody has ever done that before. People don’t realize how crazy that is!”