by: Rohit Brijnath; Senior Correspondent
Published Mar 6, 2016, 5:00 am SGT
If you’re cynical about sport, fed up with excess, sick of cheats, weary of drugs, tired of ego, go meet Mo Martin. Just seek an audience. Because this American is 1.60m of weapons-grade optimism.
She ain’t no big-money-raking, game-dominating, fairway- shrinking, camera-attracting, fashion icon. No, she’s a world No. 57 whose career earnings at 33 are less than what Lydia Ko, 18, won last year, but she is as important to golf.
Because sport can’t survive on the skills of a handful of great champions, it needs an array of athletes to sustain it. The dreamers, the doers, the desperate. Or just a kid called Mo from California who couldn’t afford golf lessons, got onto the LPGA Tour finally at 29 and then won a Major as her first and only title. Cool is the word you’re searching for.
But more than that, as sport is increasingly suffocated by minders, and hard-to-reach athletes speak like wound-up toys, we need evangelists like Martin, who signs balls for volunteers, who leans against a wall after a humid round and chats for 20 minutes and whose affection for the game sings from every sentence.
“I love,” she says of golf, “how you constantly have to improve. I love how difficult it is. I love the beauty of it because I have never been to an ugly course. I love how it brings different people together.” She was just a soapbox short of a sermon on why kids should play this game.
So if you ask, why does Mo Martin – a mid-level player, possibly unrecognisable to you – matter, it is because she returns a little bit of innocence to sport.
Mo Martin matters also because she’s a short hitter surviving just fine in a planet that’s manic about length. Even Donald Trump, politics’ latest Pinocchio, is now swearing he hits it 285 yards. Everyone’s trying to turn a meticulous sport into a macho one and Martin’s heard people talking about driving a ball 50 yards longer. To which she asks, “Do you know how hard it is to hit it 10 yards further?”