Golf Australia

Green blitzes Hazeltine to lead PGA

Hannah Green

West Australian Hannah Green has blown the field away at Hazeltine Golf Club in a brutal opening round of the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

The 22-year-old overcame persistent rain and tough winds - and a lack of wet weather gear - and despite only finding six fairways and nine greens in regulation, Green will sleep on a one-shot lead in Minneapolis after an opening 4-under 68.

“I didn't own a pair of rain pants. That was difficult. I only brought one jacket and I was freezing cold. My caddy and I both really weren't prepared for the rain,” Green told media after her round.

“Luckily my boyfriend [Jarryd Felton] was able to run home and get a jacket for me to put on, which definitely helped. I think we'll be investing in some rain pants!”

After starting on the 10th, Green made birdies at 11 and 16 before picking up another stroke with an eight-foot putt at the par-5 3rd.

But the highlight of the day came from a greenside trap at the par-5 7th, Green splashing out and finding the bottom of the cup for a fourth birdie of the day.

“As soon as it landed on the green I knew there was a chance of it going in,” Green said.

“I guess I just had a lot of luck today with putts going in and getting good bounces. That was one of them.”

Much has been made of Hazeltine’s length in the lead up to today’s first round, but Green was superb in birdieing three of Hazeltine’s four par-5s.

Only Green, Shanshan Feng and Moriya Jutanugarn recorded bogey-free rounds on Thursday.

“I don't really think I ever had like a tap-in putt for my par putts when I missed the green,” Green said.

“Nearly every hole was a 6-footer and I made all of them.”

The World No.114 leads Korean Hyo Joo Kim and 2017 ISPS Handa Vic Open champion Mel Reid  by one stroke, with a pack of players that includes Ariya Jutanugarn, Amy Yang and World No.4 Sung Hyun Park at 2-under.

Minjee Lee is the next best Australian through 18 holes after World No.3 ground out a 2-over-74.

Also starting on the 10th, Lee plummeted to 4-over for the round following back-to-back bogeys on the 4th and 5th holes.

But the West Australian responded brilliantly, rattling off birdies at seven and eight to stay within six of leader and good friend Green.

After a runner-up finish on the LPGA Tour last week Su Oh also returned a 74, though the Victorian's day was a little more colourful.

Oh opened with a double bogey and recorded another six on a par-4 on the 10th.

But four birdies throughout the day and an eagle on the par-5 15th countered four other bogeys, Oh still in the hunt heading into tomorrow’s second round.

Katherine Kirk (78), Karrie Webb (79), Sarah Kemp (79) and Wendy Doolan (86) all struggled on day one and will need to produce something special to make the weekend.

***

The day’s biggest drama came when American Michelle Wie walked off the course after an opening 84, questioning her future in the game.

Wie made her return this week after a two-month layoff from a crippling wrist injury.

The five-time LPGA Tour winner was seen icing her wrist throughout the day and was in tears after signing her card.

***

On the PGA Tour, former Travelers champion Marc Leishman has resumed his love affair with TPC River Highlands, opening with a 4-under-66 to be two shots off the pace.

Matt Jones is the next best Australian in a share of 61st after a Thursday 1-under-69.

Countrymen Curtis Luck, Jason Day, Aaron Baddeley and Cam Davis all returned even-par-70s to be flirting with the cut line heading into tomorrow.

Queenslander Cam Smith is one shot further back after a 71 and fellow Maroon Rod Pampling has work to do on Friday after recording a 2-over-72.

A pack of six players, including reigning #AusOpen champion Abraham Ancer, share the lead at 6-under.


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