Martin earns $US 474,000 for her victory and jumps a massive 73 places in the Rolex World Ranking to 26th.
Into just her third year on the LPGA Tour, the Californian had previously won on the Futures or Symetra Tour but even after establishing a three shot lead heading into the weekend this week, Martin appeared an unlikely winner, given the foreign nature of the event and that such a big title was on the line.
That belief appeared to be confirmed when she recorded a back nine of 41 on day three and a third round of 77 to fall three shots off the pace then set by Inbee Park heading into the final round.
The tough demanding Royal Birkdale layout and equally demanding overhead conditions began to take their toll on the final day however and with no player breaking par on day four Martin crept closer to the leaders and although playing nearly an hour ahead of the final group she was within striking distance playing the par five last.
She would need something special however and that was exactly what she produced, her three wood second hitting the flag and stopping six feet from the hole. Her eagle putt dropped and at 1 under par she awaited her fate.
Suzann Pettersen double bogeyed twice in her final round but she would also birdie the final two holes to finish in a share of second with China's Shanshan Feng who looked to likely winner with a few holes to play before a bogey at the 16th and failure to birdie either of the two finishing par fives cost her the chance of a second major championship.
Feng and Pettersen earned US$235,000 each for their share of 2nd position while Inbee Park faltered over the closing nine to finish alone in 4th position.
Lydia Ko (29th) and Nikki Campbell (38th) finished as the best of the Australasians.