It doesn’t seem right referring to Hannah Green as a veteran.
But tomorrow the West Australian ace will feel every day of her 19 years when she takes on 13-year-old American prodigy Lucy Li in the round of 32 at the US Women’s Amateur.
Green, of Mt Lawley Golf Club in Perth, has been left to fly the flag alone after a day of mixed results for the Australian contingent at Rolling Green Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia today.
The Golf Australia national squad member was given the No.34 seed after the playoff for the final spot in the 64 was wrapped up in the morning, then was made to fight all the way by Chinese 31st seed Tianyu Wang before winning 1-up.
The result put Green on a crash course Li, with the talk of the time-honoured tournament.
Li first came to international prominence when she became the youngest person to qualify for the US Women’s Open at age 11 in 2014. She also will likely become the pin-up girl of Masters innovation Drive, Chip and Putt which she won at Augusta National the same year.
And while it’s tough to say she has matured by her first year as a teenager, Li has clearly impressed this week in being ranked second after stroke play and breezing through her opening match 4&3 today.
Green continued to improve after a weekend bout of food poisoning and was square with the card today beside a triple-bogey seven on the ninth. Wang pushed her to the end, but a par on the final hole was good enough for Green who had trailed by two holes as late as the 11th hole.
The pivotal moment of the match came on the 12th green when the pair were effectively equidistant from the hole with par putts coming.
A coin toss was used to determine the West Australian state team captain would go first and she then stepped up and rammed in her putt before Wang's horse-shoed back at her and cut her lead to one.
"That was pretty much the turning point. I had a bad hole on the ninth, but it got better after that and I was pretty solid through the back nine," Green said.
"I had nothing going for me early, but I was happy to stay in there, made a good birdie on the par-three 14th and then I did what I needed to over the last few holes."
Green said she knew little of Li other than the length of her shots belied her lithe frame.
"I played in front of her today and there were a lot of cameras following her and nearly every shot she had someone videoing her," Green said.
"She's the top seed left now, she's young and talented, but I think the pressure is definitely on her to win.
"That's how I'll be playing it tomorrow — she's the one expected to win."
Queenslander Karis Davidson fell on the wrong side of her tight match against Alyaa Abdulghany, losing on the 19th hole to the Californian’s par.
Davidson, of Sanctuary Cove, who has lost weight through the same food plight as Green, was erratic early and trailed by two through 14. But showing great courage, the Australian Junior champion hit back to twice square the match, including with a tense par at the 18th.
But she couldn’t continue the run and could only manage a bogey at the first extra hole.
Sadly for young Queenslander Eunice Kim (No.15), her consistent and solid stroke play form deserted her at the worst possible time.
Kim and Maria Fassi (No.50) halved the first two holes in bogeys, but when the Mexican settled, the Lakelands Golf Club member couldn’t go with her and eventually fell 6&5.
Li inherited the top remaining ranking after the big shock of the day came courtesy of the smoking hot putter of China's Muni He, who was the last person into the match play phase after the strokeplay playoff.
He was absolutely phenomenal against medallist Mariel Galdiano, of Hawaii, in winning with an 8m birdie bomb on the 22nd hole to cap a day she played without a bogey in three under par.
He had been 1-up playing the last before the top seed made a long birdie of her own to force overtime.
But the Chinese, who'd only made the match play phase after a big birdie putt in the playoff, then made her spectacular reply to blow the seedings apart and leave Li the nominal favourite.