Karen Stupples believes the world is Georgia Hall’s oyster after she captured the 2018 Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Hall, 22, showed maturity beyond her years over the Lancashire links to land her first major title, outlasting Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum to win by two strokes after firing a five-under-par 67 on the final day.
It ended a nine-year wait for a women’s major winner from the UK dating back to Catriona Matthew’s Women’s British Open triumph at Lytham in 2009, while another five years can be added for the last major winner from England.
Stupples was that last English winner back in 2004 at Sunningdale and, in following Hall’s final round in its entirety in her role as an on-course reporter for Golf Channel, was in awe of what she’d witnessed from a player so young.
“She was in complete control of her game and had this quiet confidence,” Stupples told UK Club Golfer. “There was nothing that was going to stop her getting her hands on that prize and you could see the determination in every step that she took.
“Being there on the 18th hole watching a young English woman win and knowing exactly what she must’ve felt like and what the next few years of her career are going to be like, it was very special.”
Stupples first met Hall when they teed it up in a practice round at the 2013 Women’s British Open. Back then, Hall was just 17 but had just won the Ladies Amateur Championship and Stupples was struck by just how impressive she was.
“I played that round with her and I was like, ‘Wow, this girl can play’,” she added. “She had a great action, she was very focused, very driven, knew where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do.”
Hall’s steely determination, Stupples says, comes from her modest upbringing, which makes her more relatable to young girls who will hopefully be inspired by her story. For example, in her teens, Hall qualified for three major championships in the USA but was unable to compete as she couldn’t fund the travel and accommodation.
“She definitely wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth and has had to work hard for everything that has come her way,” said Stupples. “It shows that your parents don’t have to have a lot of money to play golf.
“When I was a young girl, my parents didn’t have anything either and we, too, had to struggle. There’s a very endearing quality to watch somebody that’s not had everything given to them find something they love, work through those struggles because they love the game and see it as an opportunity to achieve and provide for themselves and their families. It’s so rewarding to see her make that happen.
“The world’s her oyster and this could be the springboard to something really magnificent. She knows now that anytime she tees it up, she can beat the world’s best because she’s done it already.”
However, while Stupples was full of praise for Hall, she did have a word of warning moving forward, which she is positive the Bournemouth golfer will heed.
“It’s just a case now of managing her time, managing her game and not getting too impatient if things aren’t quite going the same way as they did at Lytham.
“I’d tell her to try not to change her game too much and to just keep perfecting things that she’s already doing well. Most importantly, no swing changes like Lydia Ko please. It’s perfectly good how it is.
“But she’s got a good team and support network behind her so I’m sure they’ll steer her quite nicely.”
While Hall has spent the bulk of the 2018 season trying to establish herself on the LPGA Tour, the situation surrounding women’s professional golf in Europe remains bleak. There have only been 12 regular season events listed on the schedule all year and Stupples is under no illusions that Hall’s victory came at a time women’s golf desperately needed it.
“Absolutely it has – no question about it,” she added. “I did some research while at Lytham and there are twice as many players from Thailand who have a Rolex Ranking than there are from England.
“That’s crazy. We’ve been playing golf here for centuries and it’s a relatively new sport in Thailand – yet they have twice as many women with a world ranking. It floored me. So hopefully what we’ve seen from Georgia can help inspire a generation of young girls to take up golf or, at the very least, encourage them to give the game a go.”