Golf Australia

CLAYTON: Green going for miraculous Major win

Hannah Green
In the final round, and for the second consecutive day, Hannah Green will be paired with Thai powerhouse Ariya Jutanugarn at the 2019 KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Image: Getty.

Ian Baker-Finch announced himself to the golf world outside of Australia and New Zealand when, after three days, he led the 1984 British Open at St Andrews. Wayne Grady, Ian and I shared a house that week and on Saturday night we dared to imagine the bloke in the bedroom next to ours just might win The Open the next day. His game was good, he had a putting stroke to die for and he hardly lacked self-belief.

Ian was drawn to play the final day with the co-leader Tom Watson, who was going for three Opens in a row. History.

In the group ahead were Severiano Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer. They could play a bit.

No one really thought our man would win even though seven months earlier he was second in the Australian Open and the following week the winner of the New Zealand Open in Auckland. For us they were a big deal but it’s something of a step up to play the same golf with the world watching on the game’s greatest course with the best player in the game.

As Watson said to Baker-Finch on the first tee, ‘If you’re not nervous now, you’re not human.’

The critics were right. Ian dunked a pitch into the burn on the opening hole and three holes later it was clear he just had the best seat in the house as Watson and Ballesteros (with Langer playing one heck of a supporting role) fought out one of the great Opens.

Hannah Green is leading this week’s KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Hazeltine in Minnesota by a single shot from Ariya Jutanurgan, the most powerful player in women’s golf and the 2018 U.S Open champion.

It’s fair to say Green is given about as much chance to win as Baker-Finch was thirty-five years ago. Still, she is sharing a big house this week with her boyfriend Jarryd Felton (himself a terrific player), Karrie Webb, Su Oh and Becky Kay and Grace Kim who are there as recipients of Webb’s scholarship. Making jigsaws seems to be the week’s house entertainment.  Distractions are good in filling up the 19 hours where you're not playing. It should be 20 but what can you do about the seeming acquiescence to five-hour rounds?

Like Grady and I, they will all hope their housemate can play the last 18 holes as she has just played the opening 54.

The best players somehow learn to play through the aching pressure of the final day and Watson himself had learned the hard way as he endured final day blow-outs at both the 1974 and 1975 U.S Opens. He learned from those mistake-filled rounds in the high seventies, as did Baker-Finch of his 79.

Sure, it’s more likely Hannah won’t win but the game is littered with players who have taken their first chance going all the way back to Francis Ouimet at the 1913 US Open through to last week when, lest we forget, Gary Woodland won at Pebble Beach when all assumed Brooks Koepka would run him over.

Jutanurgan plays a women’s version of the Kopeka game. It’s intimidating, the uncommon power is delivered with good technique and when she plays well you wonder how anybody can beat her because playing to the green from closer than most of the rest is a big advantage.

Unlike Koepka, Jutanurgan has shown some fragility under the pressure and tomorrow Green will have to survive the first hour (Baker-Finch’s failure in 1984 but the base of his success at Birkdale seven Opens later) and play the last thirty minutes well.

It’s obviously easier said than done but it’s far from impossible.


Comments

Posted by Geoffrey W at
26/06/2019 12:53 AM
Great article as always, Mike C You reveal how golf things go - to & fro. In this case, Hannah's thrilling result is one for her, but also a reward for all you dedicated supporters of the women's game and its future.
Posted by Darren Bliesner at
24/06/2019 02:59 PM
Mike I bet you are glad you were proven wrong for once! Good article thanks
Posted by Shaz at
23/06/2019 08:45 PM
Go Hannah, I believe you can do it.
Posted by Peter Styles at
23/06/2019 04:27 PM
mate , I think that she will win .. her game so far has held up under pressure especially her short game .. get it on the short stuff Hannah and put it in the hole .. one shot at a time..go girl..

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23 June 2019
Sure, it’s more likely Hannah won’t win but the game is littered with players who have taken their first chance going all the way. Read more
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