Date: February 07, 2020
Author: Mark Hayes @ 13th Beach

The major champ: Hannah Green’s learnings

It was a five-hour golfing party well worth whatever drive you had to make to see it.

After all, it’s not every day that you get to watch three major champions in Australia at the peak of their powers ply their trade.

And almost throughout, it didn’t disappoint.

Jeongeun Lee6 and Hannah Green kicked off round two of the ISPS Handa Vic Open with birdies, So Yeon Ryu soon followed suit and the party looked on.

But as the Koreans gathered steam and began moving north up the leaderboard, it slowly but surely became evident to many who’d come to see Green that she just didn’t have her dancing shoes.

As it panned out, Green twice reached red figures in her round only to give them both back almost immediately and eventually sign for a truly blue-collar even-par 73 on the Creek Course.

For the record, former world No.1 Ryu carded a three-under-par 70 to reach four under, while reigning US Women’s Open champ Lee6 was in cruise control before closing with a bogey for a 69 that left her at eight under and looming for the weekend.

But it was hard not to feel for Green.

The charming young West Australian, making her LPGA Tour season debut after a longer-than-normal off-season, just couldn’t find the magic her growing legion of fans has come to expect.

And therein lies the rub.

As every golfer who has ever picked up a stick will attest, it’s hard to have your best every time you step on course.

Green was clearly pushing extremely hard, but try as she might, one of her driver or putter seemed to let her down on alternate holes.

For the Mount Lawley member who roared to national prominence last June when she became only the third Australian woman to win a major, it was only natural to ask whether she’d felt the pinch of meeting external expectations.

Typically, she was endearingly candid in her response.

“The crowds are really good here. I think when I’m usually playing in the US, they react a little bit more and are like, `Oooh’ when you miss putts like I did today,” Green said.

“I had a couple of breaks that weren’t so lucky today, but then I did hole some putts as well, but the crowd was really good with me out there either way.

“Sometimes crowds you can feel they’re a bit harsh if you miss a putt, but I’ve not had that at all in the past two days.

“So I guess the answer is no, it’s just more trying to get my own self-belief back and meet my expectations.

“It’s difficult, especially when it’s my first tournament back and there’s going to be some rust.

“There were a few moments out there when it was like, `Why did I just do that?’ and I missed some really short putts that I know if I had a bit more rhythm that I would make.

“So it’s hard to put on a brave face and say it’s always a great round or always smile and look happy out there …

“But it’s not a 79, it’s even par and I haven’t really had many low scores on that course (Creek) in past years, so it’s not the end of the world.”

It’s the voice of a veteran, not someone still just 24 and learning to balance newfound demands.

Thankfully for both Green and her followers, her three-under-par total was just enough to make the weekend and give her another shot on her preferred of the two courses at 13th Beach.

“I’ll get an early tee time tomorrow (8.10am off the 10th tee) and all I can do is go out and post a number on the Beach.”

As soon as the rust comes loose, you certainly wouldn’t put it past her.