CHASKA, Minn. – From a young age, LPGA Hall of Famer Karrie Webb took note of Hannah Green’s mental strength. Her level temperament, she said, was built for a major championship stage.
Webb knew early on what the rest of the world found out at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where longshot Hannah Green led wire-to-wire to become the third Australian to win an LPGA major, joining Webb (seven) and Jan Stephenson (three).
Green is a gamer.
“I’m pretty much speechless,” she said through tears. Ranked 114th in the world at the start of the week, the LPGA sophomore was playing in only her seventh major championship.
As 2018 KPMG winner Sung Hyun Park charged, Green rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the demanding par-4 16th to extend her lead to two strokes. The tournament went from potential blowout, when Green’s lead ballooned to four, to shootout, when eight players were within three shots with four holes to play. Green, 22, rattled off three bogeys in the middle of her round, but she didn’t panic.
- SCORES: KPMG PGA Women’s Championship
Not even when she dumped her approach into a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole and had to drain a 6-foot par putt to avoid a playoff.
“I really didn’t want to play that hole again,” said Green, who understandably battled strong nerves the last five holes.
Webb missed the cut at Hazeltine National but came back out to walk the fairways with Green, a two-time winner of Webb’s namesake scholarship.
The first time Green ever attended a professional event was the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open, courtesy of Webb. The Aussie legend invites rising stars to stay with her during a major so they get an all-access, inside look at what it takes to be successful at the next level.
— KPMGWomensPGA (@KPMGWomensPGA) June 23, 2019
On Saturday night, Webb prepared an Aussie BBQ back at the house she shared with Green, Su Oh and two current scholarship recipients, Grace Kim and Becky Kay, who accessorized their wild costumes on Sunday with an Aussie flag cape, thick headband and fake moustache. Webb’s menu of Aussie rissole and beef short rib, along with plenty of laughter, provided a relaxed evening for Green before the biggest round of life.
Webb heard Green tell the media earlier that she’d gotten lucky – she holed a shot from the bunker and a 60-yard pitch from the rough. Luck is part of every win, Webb told her. Embrace it, don’t be embarrassed by it.
Green battled a nasty, cold rain without waterproofs in the opening round. She doesn’t own rain pants – they’re too noisy and baggy – and her boyfriend, touring pro Jarryd Felton, had to run back to the house to get her jacket. The staff brought out towels.
Green was a long way from Perth, but it felt like she had plenty of support in the Midwest. She even put together a 2,000-piece puzzle with her housemates.
Every part of Green’s week at Hazeltine added up to a perfect fit.