Date: June 24, 2019
Author: Martin Blake

Why Green felt like she was home

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Hannah Green is a people person, which is why she took the poem that a seven-year-old girl wrote to her to heart at Hazeltine today.

And it’s why she loved having all her Australian mates around her this week in Minneapolis.

A bunch of them rented a house locally including her boyfriend, Jarryd Felton, a professional himself, Karrie Webb and Victorian professional Su Oh, who both played in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Stacey Peters, the European Tour professional and current female pathway manager for Golf Australia, and the pair of Webb Scholarship holders, Grace Kim from Sydney and Becky Kay from the Gold Coast, who were spending the week under Webb’s careful eye.

They were all amid the crazy mob who doused her with beer on the 18th green after the 22-year-old drained a putt from nearly two metres to win her first major championship, becoming just the third Australian woman to do so.

On the night before, they’d conjured their own Aussie barbecue back at the house. In the early hours there was a huge crack of thunder which Webb heard; she was encouraged to learn that Green had not. She had slept soundly with a one-shot lead, surrounded by those who mean something to her.

All of which was important to Green, who has to ply her trade on the other side of the world from her native Perth, where she grew up playing at Hillview where her Dad played, and at Hartfield before joining Mt Lawley when she started to take golf more seriously. She has known the loneliness that confronts a young, professional athlete.

But this week, she was surrounded by Australians, the teenagers Kim and Kay dressing up in outrageous outfits and painting their faces to offer their support on course, and Webb with a few astute words of advice.

Green herself was a beneficiary of the Webb Scholarship, which affords the winners a $10,000 cheque for travel to events, and a trip to a major to watch the legendary Australian up close. In 2015, she went to a US Women’s Open and stayed with Webb, who has become a mentor, as she tends to be with most of the young Australian women.

Asked later whether it was the money or the companionship and advice that was most important to her, she was adamant. “Without a doubt, just getting to know Karrie. Getting the money is a bonus, but staying in a house with her, literally I guess breathing on her, watching what she does in a tournament at a major, watching from outside the ropes, it definitely gave me a big insight into what tour life was.”

So in a week where she played another tournament in another place, Green felt like she was at home. “Just watching the video of them pouring beer over me just makes me tear up, and I’m so happy to have them here this week,’’ she said later. “I think it really made a big difference to me winning. They kept me cool out there. ‘Can you come every week’?!’’

It allowed her to relax; she was in her comfort zone. When she got home from the course on Saturday they were already preparing the food. “There really wasn’t much golf talk at all, which was perfect. That’s what I wanted. We didn’t stay up that late but we were having some good chats towards the end of the night. I think it was perfect. It was definitely how I wanted to spend a Saturday night.’’

As for the poem, it was handed to her during the round by a young girl called Lily Kostner, who was watching with her father. Green hugged the young girl, and tucked the note in her yardage book for reference.

“I gave her a signed golf ball at ANA (tournament) and her father was there and he reminded me,” she said. “I was like: ‘Oh wow’. So I got a cute little poem that said I’d given her a ball, and it also said: ‘You can win this’. A couple of times on the back nine when I was nervous, I read it. So I have to thank Lily for writing that because I think it really helped me.’’

Hannah Green has a tournament to play next week. But first, there might just be a little Aussie party in Minneapolis.