Date: March 02, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Green coming of age

It was a year ago next week when Hannah Green took stock of the big golfing picture.

A missed cut at the Riversdale Cup had the Perth teenager wondering where the sport, about which she’s so passionate, was taking her.

Having been in the world’s top 40 amateurs as a 16-year-old, her ranking had slumped back out of the top 100 and she’d reached a crossroad.

But testament to the mentality of the Mt Lawley Golf Club prospect, she decided smarter – as opposed to more – practice was her solution.

Flash forward and Green is sitting in the Sydney Airport, 12 months removed from that mini crisis and 24 hours after announcing herself to a far bigger audience with her best result in a professional tournament.

That she finished outright second in a national championship was a praiseworthy feat in itself.

That it was behind only world No.1 Lydia Ko in New Zealand takes it on to a whole different level.

Green, 18, was still contemplating her achievement today, trying to analyse what it meant as she prepared to board for Melbourne and return to the Riversdale Cup.

When the world rankings are updated this week, she’ll likely vault back towards that career high – all of which seemed a long way away in early 2014.

“That was easily the lowest point of my year – and my golf (career),” Green recalled.

“But this year it’s completely different. I went back home then and worked with (coach) Ritchie (Smith) on working not less, but just with a focus on quality rather than quantity.

“We sorted out a better schedule of not playing too many tournaments in a row and not it’s all coming together.”

Green, a key member of Australia’s winning Astor Trophy team earlier this year, has been circumspect about turning professional.

Although she has followed the Golf Australia high performance mantra of turning when the game is ready, it’s becoming clearer to the West Australian that her time is approaching more rapidly than she’d once thought.

“I’d thought about maybe trying Tour School (either LET or LPGA) at the (end of next year),” Green said.

“But that might have changed a bit, I think. There’s a lot to think about and there’s no rush. But yeah, it has made me think a bit sooner, perhaps. It makes me re-evaulate, that’s for sure.”

Her giant New Zealand Open step at Clearwater, near Christchurch, came in a co-sanctioned event with bona fide European stars Charley Hull, Marianne Skarpnord and Gwladys Nocera present, as well as a host of LPGA Tour players.

“When you see your name against some of those players, it makes you wonder. It gives you a lot more confidence that you’re … doing the right thing.”

That feeling is borne as much of a prominent past month as the weekend. Green was T35 at the RACV Ladies Masters at Royal Pines and T20 at the Oates Victorian Open at 13th Beach, with only one poor round in each event preventing even higher finishes.

But that didn’t happen in the 54-hole NZ event.

“I was really focussed on my game and not the scores, so I was a bit surprised to see where I finished,” said Green, whose final-round 68 was the day’s best.

“I knew what my score was, but I didn’t know what the others were doing, so when you look up after the 18th and see them move your name up, it’s pretty cool.

“It’s big to finish second in a pro event, it’s my best result and probably the biggest tournament I’ve been in, too.

“But it’s really cool to see you’re not too far off the mark with Lydia — in that event, anyhow,” she said with a giggle.

Green began her final round with a flurry, peeling off birdies on the first, second, fifth and seventh holes.

But a double-bogey on the par-five 10th threatened to bring apart all her good work.

“I could have got a bit flustered there, but I kept it together and made a couple of birdies late (on 15 and 16) to get those back, so it was a good finish,” she said.

“It was good to shoot the lowest round (among the entire field). It makes you feel like your game is heading in the right direction.”

Suffice to say, it’s a different mindset that Green will bring back to Riversdale Golf Club in suburban Melbourne this week.