03 Jun 2021 | Professional golf |

Green braces for wicked examination

by PGA of Australia

Hannah Green prepares at the Olympic Club today.
Hannah Green prepares at the Olympic Club today.

By Tony Webeck

Thick rough from the very edge of the fairway. Greens that instil the type of trepidation that comes with a downhill ski jump when viewed from the top side of the hole.

To quote Dan Hicks’ immortal words following Tiger Woods’ 72nd-hole heroics at the 2008 US Open: “Expect anything different?”

The best female players on the planet have assembled at The Olympic Club in San Francisco this week to confront a golf course that measures 6,486 yards (5,931 metres) and will play to a par of 71.

This is the US Women’s Open and Australia’s lone major champion in the field is adopting the attitude of "the tougher, the better".

West Australian Hannah Green shocked the world when she made a sand save at the 72nd hole to complete a wire-to-wire win at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in 2019.

That performance reinforced the grit necessary to turn talent into trophies and the 24-year-old knows she will need all of that mental toughness to be triumphant at The Olympic Club.

“This week is going to be a little different to what we’ve had the whole entire year,” says Green, who hasn’t finished worse than 14th in her past five stroke play events.

“This year, pars are going to be great scores. I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw the winner at over par. That’s how tough it’s playing.

“The course is long, just because we are getting cooler temperatures, and the rough is really thick. Getting yourself around is going to be quite the tough task.

“Major championships are already a long week, but I think with having to concentrate with every shot on this golf course, it’s going to be quite gruelling.

“Every part of your game is going to be tested this week, so I’m ready for the task.”

Rising to a career high of No.13 in the world after finishing runner-up at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore in April, Green is benefiting from a program undertaken with coach Ritchie Smith to add distance to her game.

She is 10th in average driving distance (274.77 yards) on the LPGA Tour and 21st in greens in regulation (74.77 per cent), but knows her putting (first in putts per GIR, fifth in putting average) may be this week’s most valuable weapon.

“Fairways and greens is key, but also giving yourself uphill putts,” Green said.

“If you get some downhill putts, it’s going to be defensive. You won’t be able to be aggressive and try to make it.

“They don’t actually have a first cut of rough here, so it’s going to be quite interesting.

“There are a few run-offs that we have to worry about with the slopes and making sure that, even if you have to hit 3-wood and have a longer shot in, it’s going to be quite a different way of playing golf compared to just hitting driver everywhere.

“The rough is quite thick around the greens, so whoever hits the most greens, I want to say, is probably who’s going to win the tournament.”

Green has been paired with fellow major champions Danielle Kang and Jin Young Ko for the first two rounds and says such a star-studded group will help bring out her best.

“I’ve got a great pairing. That will be really fun to play with them. Obviously they’re both in quite some form this year.

“It’s always nice to have good playing partners to kind of carry on and vibe off each other.”

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