16 Feb 2016
Hannah Green during her practise round on Tuesday.
Hannah Green is like a flower late in winter.
Just one day in the warm Adelaide sun and you get the strong feeling that she’ll blossom and the whole golfing world will take in her game in all its glory.
The West Australian, Australia’s leading amateur, has received a sponsor’s invite to play in this week’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
And the progression in her game even has the typically modest Mount Lawley star upbeat.
Green, 19, is in the throes of planning her progression to the professional ranks later this year.
But in having played the past two weeks among many of the sport’s top pros, including world No.1 Lydia Ko, she’s already starting to feel at home.
A pair of weekend 69s at 13th Beach enabled her to soar to three under and T11 at the Vic Open, then another closing 69 at Clearwater, near Christchurch, meant the Golf Australia national squad member climbed to four under and a T10 finish in the NZ Open at the weekend.
“I feel excited about the week and my game … especially after the last two weeks,” Green said.
“Not to sound cocky or anything about it, but I feel like I’ve played well the last two weeks and better than I scored (looking externally).
“Hopefully I can get it together this week and get some good rounds in.”
In many ways, this week is Green’s final proving ground as an amateur whose game sits comfortably alongside pros comfortably her senior.
“Since I’ve talked to (GA high performance director) Brad (James) and (coach) Ritchie (Smith) about it being my final year (as an amateur), it has motivated me more to get myself out there, around the world, and to get my name known amongst these girls,” she said.
“So yes, it’s a big week. A big week.”
At 19, about half a year older than Ko, it’s not unreasonable that the pair might have shared many rounds through their junior days, with the New Zealander having played many times in Australia in her formative years.
But the pair hadn’t met until Green stormed home to run second in the 2015 NZ Women’s Open last year, nor played until last week when, alongside Danish prodigy Emily Pedersen, they were paired in the first two rounds of the same tournament.
“I met her last time at the (NZ Open presentation) ceremony, and she was really nice. She was really good when we played together (last week) and not as intimidating as I thought,” Green said with trademark smile.
“I was pretty nervous and expecting to be a lot more than I was.
“But it wasn’t too bad with the crowds and having her there watching me. It made me feel better about my game (and) didn’t make me feel like she was way better than me.
“She definitely didn’t act like she was the world No.1 player, so it was a great experience.”
Green’s invitation this week meant a chance to fine-tune her game at The Grange alongside Perth-based coach Smith, rather than panic about having to qualify.
“It’s exciting. It’s a lot easier than having to qualify, which I would have had to otherwise,” she said.
“I came back (to Melbourne) from the (Australian Ladies) Masters last year and did OK there, but played the qualifier (two over at Kingswood) and was really gutted that I didn’t play well and get in.
“I sat and watched (this tournament) afterwards and I thought how much I really wanted to be out there.’
“So this year it’s great, it’s really exciting to be in and not worry about that … and I can’t wait to get out there.”