A surprise Karrie Webb visit prompted an outstanding day for Australia at the US Women’s Amateur, with four advancing to the matchplay rounds and three in the top 10.
With Australia’s most decorated golfer watching on, the Aussie contingent posted some of the best rounds of the day with Hannah Green and Wanasa Zhou firing four-under-par rounds of 68 and Cathleen Santoso also soaring up the leaderboard with a 69 at the Portland Golf Club.
All three earned top-10 finishes with Green narrowly missing medallist honours, finishing in a tie for third at five under, just one stroke behind American duo Angel Yin and Jennifer Hahn.
Zhou and Santoso finished T9 at two under, while South Australia’s Jenny Lee will also feature in the matchplay after finishing at two over in a tie for 33rd.
Webb, also in Oregon for an LPGA Tour event, had contacted Green about the possibility of coming to watch, but Green said she hadn’t put too much hope in a visit until she saw the Queensland champion watching on during her back nine.
“It’s really hard to explain how cool it was,” Green beamed.
“Karrie had sent me a message earlier on in the week saying good luck and that she might even come out. When I first noticed her I was on the 12th and it was just great to see her.”
Interestingly, Webb’s appearance at the US Women’s Amateur is a direct reversal of last month’s US Women’s Open where Green was a part of Karrie Webb’s support crew as one of her scholarship winners.
“I was thinking about how funny it was to have her watching me this time. She said she doesn't remember the last time she came out and watched golf, so it was really special to have her out there.”
While Green and Webb didn’t speak until after the round, Green went on to birdie the 16th and 18th to earn some positive feedback from her idol.
“She said I looked good out there, and mentioned how I appeared in control and calm, so that was cool of her to think that!
“I only met her for the first time a month ago yet she has already come out and watched me play.”
Webb told Golfweek after the round that Green was “very technically sound”.
“She didn’t miss a green while I watched,” Webb told the website.
Some of Green’s best shots came from her irons, with approaches inside a metre on the fourth, sixth and 16th holes.
While only two of those chances were converted into birdies, the Mount Lawley member made up for it on the 18th by draining a 10m bomb to close her round.
As top 10 finishers, Green, Zhou and Santoso can all expect favourable draws in tomorrow’s matchplay round of 64. With a playoff in progress between 16 golfers for the final 10 places, all three will need to wait until this evening to find out their opponents.
The only sad news for Australia was that Liz Elmassian’s round of 74, while moving her through the field, could only improve her to T90 at seven over.