‘Make my hands bleed’: Charley Hull just finished second again, but she’s eager to get back to work

Charley Hull of England plays their second shot on the 17th hole on Day Four of the AIG Women's Open at Walton Heath Golf Club on August 13, 2023 in Tadworth, England.

Charley Hull says next year is her year.

Getty Images

This week was supposed to be it for Charley Hull.

She showed she had the game to win a major championship a month ago when she gave her now-famous “shy girls don’t get sweets” line at the U.S. Women’s Open. The valiant effort to reach Pebble Beach’s 18th green in two from underneath the cypress tree in the middle of the fairway capped a spectacular final-round 66 to finish T2.

But this week at the AIG Women’s Open, instead of having to manufacture a comeback down seven like she did last month, she entered the final round tied for the lead.

What’s more, she was playing on home turf. The Englishwoman grew up in Kettering, about two hours north of this week’s host, Walton Heath Golf Club.

“You ask anyone that, it would be unbelievable. It would be absolutely unbelievable,” Hull said Saturday evening when asked what it would be like to win on English soil. She recalled when fellow-countrywoman Georgia Hall triumphed won the Women’s Open at Royal Lytham in 2018. “To do that again would be unreal. But one step at a time and just go out there and have fun.”

However, some fairy tale endings just never materialize.

Bogeys at 3 and 5 coupled with a violent lip-out for birdie at 5 suddenly saw her three back of playing partner and overnight co-leader Lilia Vu. By the time the pair reached the 11th hole, Vu had opened up a five-shot lead with eight holes to play.

But just like at Pebble Beach, the 27-year-old rose to the occasion once again to make it a ball game. At the 502-yard par-5, her tee shot found the left fescue, but she went for the green anyway. She ended up in the left greenside bunker in two and from there, authored the shot of the tournament.

From right in front of the steep riveted face, Hull blasted her ball onto the green 25 feet short of the pin and watched it release and just trickle into the cup.

“That was the moment Charley needed to get herself back into this championship,” noted NBC’s Tom Abbot on the broadcast.

“And that was a moment the crowd has been waiting for,” added analyst Morgan Pressel.

When Vu failed to get her chip from beyond the green up and down for a birdie, it felt the start of another Pebble-like run for Hull.

It wasn’t. Vu knocked it stiff on 12 for another birdie that may as well have been the dagger. Even when Hull’s second at the par-5 16th ended up just a couple of feet from the hole, she couldn’t convert.

But it may have been the 18th hole when Hull proved what she’s all about. She fanned her tee shot out to the right and went for the green out of the heather that lines Walton Heath’s fairways. Her second caught the cross-bunker 50 yards short of the green from which she could only blast out to the front of the green.

She drained the final putt to secure solo second.

Just listening to the crowd, you might have thought she’d won.

“It’s unbelievable,” Hull said of the crowd support this week. “I was shocked how many young kids came up to me to be fair. It’s quite cute and really inspiring because when I was younger I used to look up to Laura but it’s kind of cool how they are looking up to me now. The signs, it’s lovely.”

England's Charley Hull reacts after holing her par putt on the 18th green to take second-place on day 4 of the 2023 Women's British Open Golf Championship at Walton Heath Golf Club in Walton-on-the-Hill, south-west of London on August 13, 2023.
Charley Hull had a hometown crowd this week. Getty Images

However, a win this was not, just another close call as Vu made her own birdie putt to cap a six-shot victory.

“It’s just annoying because this is my fourth second-place finish of the year, so yeah, and second second-place finish in a major,” she said.

But if you think she’s in any way demoralized by coming so close, think again.

“Truthfully, I want to be with my coach tomorrow at 10 o’clock in the morning,” Hull told Sky Sports. “I really feel like next year is my time to win [a major] and I just want to get started as soon as possible and just get working and make my hands bleed. I want to hit that many golf balls.”

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.