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How a cigarette made Charley Hull a cult hero at the US Women’s Open

Charley Hull smokes a cigarette during the 2024 US Women's Open

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

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LANCASTER, Pa. – Charley Hull stood next to the rope line to the left of the 18th green in the final round of the US Women’s Open and looked back across the fairway. Her ball was safely ten feet below the hole, but her playing partner, Jenny Shin, was not so lucky. After catching the edge of a fairway bunker with her approach, Shin still had 400 feet of baked grass between her ball and the hole.

As Shin and her caddy debated the best way to shoot, a fan called out to Hull. Can I take a picture with you? The 28-year-old from Northamptonshire, England, obliged and posed for a selfie with the fan. Another request soon followed. Then another. And another. Hull eventually had to step off the rope line. After all, she still had a birdie look.

The putt didn’t fall, but that didn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm. As Hull walked from the 18th green to the scoring tent, where she signed for a closing three-under 67 that would put her in the top 20, fans showered her with praise. We love you Charley! Well done! In just a week, Hull had gone from being a relative unknown among casual golf fans to a cult hero in the galleries of eastern Pennsylvania and beyond.

And it all started with a cigarette.

On Tuesday morning, Hull left the players’ dining area and walked to the shooting range. As she walked around the practice room, looking for a place to hit, she pulled a cigarette from her pack and lit it. She took a puff, blew the smoke into the air and continued walking along the range.

A group of autograph-seeking children shouted at her. Can you please sign this?! Hull didn’t hesitate for a moment and walked towards the group of young people, Sharpie in hand. All the while her lit cigarette dangled from her lips.

At the time, a GOLF.com camera was rolling and filming unrelated content on the practice tee. But as soon as Hull began her autograph session, our camera captured what would quickly become a viral moment.

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

“It’s actually quite funny,” Hull said Sunday afternoon. “Just a cigarette, I guess.”

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 ‘female John Daly’, a nod to the tall, 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 lives an otherwise healthy lifestyle. Scroll through her Instagram account and you’ll see post after post of her working out and eating clean.

“I just smoke,” Hull said. “I hardly drink. I don’t need to drink, because I can actually enjoy myself without it.”

Her explanation for Why she smokes has only made her legend grow.

“Last year I was a little stressed and I just vaped,” she said. “And I wanted to quit vaping, and even though smoking isn’t better than vaping, you can always vape indoors. I thought if I smoke, I’ll go outside and smoke a cigarette.”

Cigarettes may have carried a stigma, but smoking did little to dent Hull’s popularity at Lancaster Country Club. In fact, the exact opposite has happened.

Charley Hull smokes a cigarette during the 2024 US Women's Open
Charley Hull has become a cult hero at the US Women’s Open this week.

Getty Images

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

“It was 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 audiences were like that more often.”

When a pair of teenage boys asked for Hull’s autograph earlier this week, they asked if she would hang a cigarette from her lips while dangling white T-shirts from theirs. Another fan asked her to light a cigarette as she passed by. One audience member even asked Hull out and gave her his phone number after her round.

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

Golf Channel even got in on the Charley mania, enlisting Hull’s compatriot Mel Reid to share her own stories about the rising sensation. Reid told a hilarious story about Hull during the 2017 Solheim, where Hull discussed with her caddy just before a crucial putt whether he had booked her a massage.

“She has so many stories about me, even funnier ones, but I don’t know if we can tell them to the camera,” Hull said, laughing. “Her story was pretty much accurate, just like how I am, taming a wild animal as she described to me.”

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

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

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

Going forward for Hull, that just might be the case.

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com, where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Before joining 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 with all things instructional and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached via [email protected].

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