05 Aug 2021 | Professional golf |

Round 2 | Green roars into medal contention

by PGA of Australia

Hannah Green during the second round of Tokyo 2020.

By Tony Webeck

Hannah Green has one eye on an Olympic medal and another on the weather forecast after peeling off eight birdies in a second round of 6-under 65 at the women’s golf competition at Kasumigaseki Country Club on Thursday.

As world No.1 Nelly Korda threatens to run away with the gold medal on a day of low scores, Green and fellow Australian teammate Minjee Lee kept their medal prospects alive, Green climbing into a share of eighth and Lee fighting back late to post 3-under 68 and a tie for 20th.

Extreme heatwave conditions made life difficult for players and caddies alike on the opening two days, it is the prediction of an intense tropical storm on Saturday that has Olympic golf officials fearful that the scheduled 72-hole tournament will not be completed in its entirety.

Green and Lee both took advantage of the ice vests and slushies delivered by Australian captain Ian Baker-Finch on day two but recognise they need all of the scheduled remaining 36 holes to push for a maiden golf medal for Australia.

“I really hope it is four (rounds), I would like two more days to get back up there,” said Green.

“I feel like now that I've had a good round I can see what's capable and there's no reason why I can't keep climbing.

“I really hope that this weather stays away and lets us have a 72-hole tournament.”

A brilliant approach shot to six feet at the first hole for birdie set the tone for the front nine for Green, the West Australian able to carry that momentum into the start of the inward nine.

Three birdies in succession from the sixth hole were quelled somewhat by a dropped shot at the par-4 ninth after finding the “gnarly” rough but having shaken the rust from her lengthy layoff in Perth recovered quickly to continue her forward progress.

Her fifth birdie of the round came at the par-4 11th and when she followed it up with a sixth birdie at the par-4 13th the 24-year-old moved inside the top 10 and five shots outside the medal positions.

Another excellent opportunity at the par-4 14th failed to break enough to the right to fall but she converted a chance at the par-3 16th and made it two on the trot courtesy of a sublime wedge to the short par-4 17th.

That saw Green move to 6-under for the tournament and three shots back of those currently positioned to claim an Olympic medal, a clutch up-and-down at the last after her tee shot finished stymied behind a pine tree allowing her to stay within reach.

“It felt like making a birdie, to be honest,” Green said of her par at 18. “Eighteen's a strong hole and even though they have moved the tee up it kind of brings the water in play. Very happy to make four.

“I felt like yesterday was just a matter of getting the rust off. It was pretty hot yesterday so I felt like it was hard to stay in the moment.

“Today I managed to give myself a lot of opportunities and rolled a couple of really important putts in.

“That gave me some motivation and confidence with the putter.”

Although she was left to rue a number of missed opportunities with the flatstick, like Green she believes she can continue to climb if both rounds are able to be completed.

“If we were playing two more rounds I think I could still be a chance,” said Lee, who was tied for seventh at Rio in 2016.

“They said it might miss us – fingers crossed – but I do need to post some low scores.

“I feel like I could build some momentum, definitely after today. Hopefully tomorrow I can post a better score.”

A par miss from long range was not how Lee had hoped for her second round to begin but she righted the ship and finished strongly to keep those at the top of the leaderboard within reach.

Birdies at six and eight offset her two dropped shots at one and seven to make the turn square with the card, three birdies in a five-hole stretch late in her round allowing Lee to post 3-under 68 for a 3-under total at the halfway mark.

“I had a lot of missed opportunities definitely early in the round,” said the recent Evian Championship winner.

“I couldn’t really get the pace of the shorter putts today for some reason but I finished strong.

“I missed my putt on 10 and 11 and I was a little bit upset with myself for not making them. I just really wanted to make a few and I made three coming in.

“If I can drop a couple of birdie putts early I think that will really open up my round.

“Today’s a start, hopefully I can have a chance tomorrow and the next day.”

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