RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Mo Martin’s grandfather would have loved it.
With a 3-under-par 68 in some tough afternoon winds Friday, Martin climbed onto the Kraft Nabisco Championship leaderboard 10 days after her most devoted fan died. She is tied for ninth going into the weekend.
Lincoln Martin, Mo’s grandfather, died March 25 battling prostate and skin cancer. He was a remarkable character who made his mark as a geophysicist, aeronautical engineer and inventor. He was 102 when he died.
With her father estranged from her grandfather, Mo didn’t really become close to Lincoln until she was playing golf at UCLA. After her father’s death, Mo decided to go visit her grandfather’s ranch. When she walked into his office, she was overwhelmed. He had an entire wall devoted to her, clippings, photos and maps marking her golf journeys.
“I cried when I saw it,” Martin said.
They quickly grew close, and he began traveling to watch her play. Even after turning 100, he would fly to tournaments.
“He’s been a priority in my life,” Martin said. “It's pretty much been my golf and my grandpa. Off weeks, I flew to him. He came to me at tournaments. I called him every day. Every day.”
Mo marveled at her grandfather’s many talents. He was a professional musician once. While working for Douglas Aircraft as an engineer, he invented the vortex generator, which is still used in modern airplanes.
After finishing the final round of the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix, Mo got a call telling her that her grandfather’s health had taken a bad turn. She hopped in a car and drove nine hours to her grandfather’s ranch. When Mo arrived at 3 a.m., Lincoln asked to be shaved, so he would look good for her.
“It’s changed my life significantly, just being around him and knowing him,” Martin said. “He was the most peaceful person I've ever met. In talking to his children, none of us have ever heard him say a bad word about anybody. So, to be that grateful, and that simple, and that smart, and that kind, I mean, I can't think of a better influence in my life.”
Mo said her grandfather insisted there be no funeral for him. Instead, he wanted his ashes spread in the Sierra Mountains. Lincoln passed a day-and-a-half after Mo arrived from Phoenix. She was with him when he passed.
“I just told him I loved him, and he told me he loved me, too,” Mo said.