Green's win at Women's PGA makes mentor Webb proud

DAVE CAMPBELL
Associated Press

CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — In the middle of the night before the most important round of golf in Hannah Green's life, a storm rolled through that produced a crack of thunder loud enough to shake the house she was staying at with a handful of fellow Australians.

Green didn't stir, as housemate Karrie Webb was glad to find out the following morning.

"If you get a good night's sleep sitting on the lead going into the last day," Webb said, "then you're going to carry yourself really well."

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Though there were some stormy holes for Green in the middle of the final round of the Women's PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club on Sunday, the 22-year-old Australian used a steely performance down the stretch to secure her first career victory with a 9-under 279 that made her the third wire-to-wire winner in the history of the event.

Just as her demeanor at the Aussie house suggested she would.

"The way she carries herself on the golf course and how she is mentally, she was made to win golf tournaments on the LPGA, made to win majors," said Webb, who was the last Australian to win a major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in California in 2006.

Green was in front after the first round. She pushed her lead to three strokes on Friday, only to have it cut back to one after the third round. Then on this cool, gray Sunday with an occasional light drizzle, Green posted three bogeys in a four-hole stretch to see her lead over Sung Hyun Park dwindled to one with six holes to go.

She birdied the signature lakeside 16th hole, though, and saved par on the 18th with a masterful blast out of the bunker to get within 5 feet for a no-problem putt. Once Green calmly knocked the ball into the cup , a handful of her friends with inside-the-ropes access and Australian-flag-adorned apparel rushed onto the green and doused her with shaken-up cans of Budweiser. Green ranked 114th in the world entering the week.

"Just watching the video of them coming and pouring beer all over me just really makes me tear up and makes me so happy to, I guess, have them here this week," Green said, glancing at the back of the interview room where Becky Kay and Grace Kim stood, beaming. "I think they really made a big difference to me winning and, yeah, they just kept me really cool. Can you come every week?"

Kay and Kim were guests at the tournament, amateur golfers who were awarded last year the scholarships from Webb's development program for Australian women that she created in 2007. Green was a recipient in 2015. That made the results at Hazeltine all the more special for Webb, who missed the cut herself with a 6-over par 150 through the first two rounds.

"It couldn't have happened at a better time as far as for the growth of women's golf in Australia," Webb said.

The scholarship money that Green received helped fund the travel to amateur events that paved the way for her arrival on the professional tour. Though she's only 22, well, she's naturally begun thinking about paying the gift forward one day the way Webb did to her.

"As soon as I see a young girl out there, if I have the opportunity, I want to give them a high five or smile or say hello," Green said, adding: "It only takes a second, and it can change someone's life."

The relationship with Webb that was spawned four years ago has proved to be far more valuable to Green than the $10,000 scholarship.

"Being able to stay in a house with her, literally, I guess, breathing on her, watching everything she does in a tournament, majors, and watching outside the ropes, it definitely gave me a big insight into what it was like," Green said, adding: "I'm very grateful to her."

Staying with Webb for the week only cemented that friendship. There was a 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle — featuring the U.S. map — that served as a house project for the week. Then there was the barbecue on Saturday night, featuring rissoles, a spiced-up, pan-fried ground beef patty known as an Aussie favorite.

"It was really nice to just have all the Australians there, and there really wasn't much golf talk at all," Green said. "We didn't stay up that late. Having some good chats toward the end of the night. It was really fun. I think it was perfect. It was definitely how I want to spend a Saturday night."

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