How a cigarette turned Charley Hull into a cult hero at U.S. Women’s Open

charley hull smokes a cigarette during the 2024 u.s. women's open

Charley Hull quickly became a fan favorite at Lancaster Country Club.

Getty Images

LANCASTER, Pa. — Charley Hull stood next to the rope line left of the 18th green in the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open and looked back down the fairway. Her ball rested safely 10 feet below the hole, but her playing partner, Jenny Shin, wasn’t so fortunate. After catching the lip of a fairway bunker with her approach, Shin still had 121 yards of baked-out turf between her ball and the hole.

As Shin and her caddie deliberated over how best to play the shot, a fan called out to Hull. Can I get a picture with you? The 28-year-old from Northamptonshire, England, obliged, posing for a selfie with the fan. Another request soon followed. Then another. And another. Hull eventually had to step away from the rope line. She still had a birdie look after all.

The putt didn’t drop, but that didn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm. As Hull walked from the 18th green to the scoring tent, where she’d sign for a closing three-under 67 that will secure her a top-20 finish, fans showered her with praise. We love you Charley! Way to go! In just a week, Hull had gone from a relative unknown among casual golf fans to a cult hero among the eastern Pennsylvania galleries and far beyond.

And it all started with a cigarette.

On Tuesday morning, Hull exited the player dining area and walked toward the range. As she walked across the practice area, searching for a place to hit, she pulled a cigarette from her pack and lit up. She took a drag, puffed the smoke into the air and continued down the range.

A group of autograph-seeking children shouted out to her. Can you please sign this?! Hull didn’t hesitate, strolling over to the gaggle of youngsters, Sharpie in hand. All the while, her lit cigarette dangled from her lips.

A camera was rolling at the time, filming unrelated content on the practice tee. As soon as Hull began her autograph session, though, our camera caught what soon would become a viral moment.

It didn’t take long for the video to gain momentum. As users shared and re-shared the clip, the views piled up. By week’s end, the post had earned nearly 50,000 likes and 2.3 million impressions (and counting).

“It’s actually quite funny,” Hull said Sunday afternoon. “All over a cigarette, I suppose.”

Publications ranging from the New York Post to BroBible shared the footage, as did popular social media accounts such as Barstool Sports and Zire Golf.

Hull was quickly anointed the “female John Daly” in a nod to the long-hitting, Marlboro-smoking two-time major winner. But while Daly drinks dozens of Diet Cokes a day and scoffs at the idea of lifting weights, Hull has an otherwise healthy lifestyle. Scroll through her Instagram account and you’ll see post after post of her working out and eating clean.

“I only smoke,” Hull said. “I hardly drink. I don’t need to drink because actually I can have a fun time without it.”

Her explanation for why she smokes only helped grow her legend.

“I was a bit stressed last year and I just kind of vaped,” she said. “And I wanted to stop vaping, and even though smoking is not better than vaping, it’s just you can vape indoors all the time. I thought if I smoke, I’m going to go outside and smoke a cigarette.”

Cigarettes might carry a stigma, but smoking didn’t do much to diminish Hull’s popularity at Lancaster Country Club. In fact, quite the opposite has happened.

charley hull smokes a cigarette during the 2024 u.s. women's open
Charley Hull has become a cult hero this week at the U.S. Women’s Open. Getty Images

As the Hull video made the rounds, fans rallied around the two-time LPGA winner. As she paced the Lancaster fairways, her following grew by the day.

“It’s been crazy,” she said. “Like the fans have been shouting my name this week … It’s been a bit of a wild week. Pretty cool, and I wish the crowds were like this more often.”

When a couple of teenage boys asked for Hull’s autograph earlier this week, they asked that she hang a cigarette from her lips as they dangled white tees from theirs. Another fan asked to bum a cigarette from her as she passed by. One spectator even asked Hull out on a date, slipping her his phone number after her round.

“I never texted him obviously,” she said. “But it was just so funny.”

Golf Channel even got in on the Charley-mania, enlisting Hull’s countrywoman Mel Reid to share her own stories on the budding sensation. Reid told a hilarious tale about Hull from the 2017 Solheim where moments before a crucial putt Hull conferred with her caddie about whether he booked a massage for her.

“She’s got so many stories on me, even more funny ones, but I don’t know if we can tell them to the camera,” Hull said with a laugh. “Her story was pretty much accurate like to how I am, taming a wild animal she’s described me as.”

Hull’s popularity has not just grown in Pennsylvania. She’s also seen her social channels grow over the last seven day. Since the week began, Hull estimates she’s gained more than 70,000 Instagram followers — although she can’t say for sure. She deleted all social media off of her phone a month ago.

The emphasis on blocking out the noise seems to have worked this week. After tapping in for par on the 18th green, Hull had shot the second-lowest round of the day and vaulted up the leaderboard.

“It’s been a bit of a wild week,” she said. “I wish the crowds were like this more often.”

Moving forward for Hull, they just might be.

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at

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