By Agence France-Presse
Hannah Green became the first Australian to win a major championship in 13 years on Sunday, holding off a pack of marquee players with a wire-to-wire victory at the Women’s PGA Championship.
The 22-year-old Green, who had never won on the LPGA Tour before, delivered and up and down par save on the final hole for an even-par 72 and a one-stroke victory over defending champion Park Sung-hyun.
“To win a major as my first event I am so over the moon,” said Green.
Green, of Perth, capped her win with a nervy four-foot putt on 18 for her third birdie of the round to reach a nine-under 279 total at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.
“I was really nervous playing the last five holes,” she said. “I am just happy I made a clutch putt because that is what I was struggling within the middle of the round. It really is surreal.”
Green had to overcome a mid-round wobble with three bogeys in a four-hole stretch. But then she got back on track with a long birdie putt on 16 to become the first player to win the event wire-to-wire since Taiwan’s Tseng Yani in 2011.
Green said she tried to not to let the magnitude of the moment distract her from her goal.
“I didn’t feel too nervous at start, but coming towards the back nine and missing putts on eight and nine, that really hurt. I wasn’t in the right head space for that,” Green said.
“Then making the putt on 16 obviously relieves everything. I heard Sung-hyun birdied the last so I knew I needed to make par. I really didn’t want to play that hole again. I am just really happy I made it.”
She is the third woman from Australia to win a major, joining seven-time winner Karrie Webb and three-time winner Jan Stephenson, who won the 1982 PGA Championship.
Green had a one-shot lead going into the final round as she sat on a 54-hole lead for the first time in her career with no less than four major champions within striking distance, comprising Park, Ariya Jutanugarn, Park In-bee, and Danielle Kang.
Park Sung-hyun, who sank an 18-foot birdie putt at the final hole to get to eight-under overall and put added pressure on Green’s finish, fired a four-under 68.
Park birdied the second playoff hole to defeat Ryu So-yeon last year and she almost sent the event into its fourth playoff in the past six years.
Park was the lone player to post four sub-par rounds this week.
England’s Mel Reid shot a six-under 66 to finish in a tie for third with American Nelly Korda (71) on six-under 282.
Kang, who won this event two years ago, finished in a tie for fifth with fellow American Lizette Salas, at five-under 283.