Minjee Lee fought gallantly, but in the end end came to grief in the treacherous sand of Royal Lytham and St Anne’s.
Having been right in the frame for so long at this week’s Women’s British Open, first-round leader Lee was still third alone when she birdied the sixth hole overnight.
But two separate trips to the bunkers – one fairway and one greenside – on the par-five seventh induced a bogey that was the beginning of the end.
Three back-nine bogeys without response ended in a 75 that dropped Lee down to 10th at seven under, 10 strokes behind local hero Georgia Hall, who won her first major championship in style with an irrepressible 67.
Hall, the winner of the 2016 Vic Open at 13th Beach, beat Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum by two after the pair had staged a stirring two-player war for most of the final round.
As the pressure mounted, a double-bogey on the 16th ultimately was Phatlum’s undoing, leaving the Englishwoman the luxury of a closing bogey – just her third in an incredible week – to hoist the year’s fourth major crown.
“I’ve dreamed about this since I started playing at seven,” Hall said sitting next to the trophy.
“I had all these people cheering for me … it really meant a lot.”
Hall said her success negotiating the club’s famous bunkering had been critical to her victory. She made seven sand saves without blemish from greenside pots and only found one fairway hazard all week.
Conversely, West Australian Lee’s run came to grief in the sand.
“Really enjoyed my time at Royal Lytham, (but I) went in a few too many bunkers,” Lee later tweeted.
“But I loved every minute of links golf.”
Lee would have loved the finish supplied by her long-time friend and compatriot Su Oh, with the Victorian pouring in six back-nine birdies to roar through the field.
Oh had made her share of birdies and bogeys through the tournament, but made six in seven holes in a 68 that left her at five under and in a share of 15th.
Perth’s Hannah Green also made a great fist of her last round, pouring in four birdies of her own in a closing 72 that left her in a share of 55th at five over in her rookie LPGA Tour season.
Coonabarabran’s Rebecca Artis, who made her first major championship cut in eight attempts, had a tough start to her final round, but closed on a bright note with two late birdies to finish at eight over and in a share of 61st.