A hot putter and the presence of seven-time Major champion Karrie Webb has inspired West Australian Hannah Green to a bright start to the LPGA Tour’s season finale, the CME Group Tour Championship in Florida.
Still basking in the glow of her $US1 million Aon Risk Reward Challenge victory announced earlier in the week, Green fired seven birdies in her round of 6-under 66, level with fellow Aussie Minjee Lee in a tie for sixth and just two strokes back of round one leader Jeongeun Lee6 (64).
Webb only recently returned to the US after an extended stay back home in North Queensland and seeing the Hall of Famer patrolling outside the ropes took Green back to her greatest triumph to date, the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine National.
“It’s amazing she’s even out here,” Green said following her round.
“She said the last time she was watching me play was in 2019 at Hazeltine, so it’s pretty cool to even have her watching me back then, as well.
“It’s great that she’s always supporting us. There’s a few amateur golfers that are here at the moment and she played golf with them yesterday so she’s always giving back.
“She probably doesn’t realise how much of a big deal it is to those players and myself. I have to say thank you to her.”
Out early, Green compiled almost the complete round of golf, a three-putt bogey on the par-3 17th her only misstep of the day.
She hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation but credited a putter that got hot early for converting a good day of ball-striking into a scorecard littered with red numbers.
“I definitely putted really well. I birdied my first two holes, making really clutch putts,” said Green.
“I had one three-putt today, which you can’t really dwell on because I made so many other good putts.
“I feel like I played really well and when I do play well is when I get the putter rolling.
“I feel like my head was really big on Tuesday when I was doing all my media for (the Aon Risk Reward Challenge). But I played well in the pro-am yesterday. I had a really good group with really good company. I fired a lot of birdies, and I knew with the tee boxes being up that it was gettable. It’s just a matter of making the putts and hoping the weather holds off.
“It’s really nice to have some confidence and hopefully that can continue for the rest of the week.”
Starting the week ninth on the Order of Merit Lee too found birdies easy to come by on day one, making seven in the space of eight holes from the third to the 10th hole to at one stage have a share of the lead.
Her eighth birdie came at the par-4 13th but uncharacteristic bogeys at two of the par 5s kept her from enjoying a share of the lead.
It was a bright start too for Su Oh, the Victorian in a share of 19th after day one with a round of 4-under 68.
Min Woo Lee’s hopes of claiming the European Tour Race to Dubai title took a slight hit on the opening day of the DP World Tour Championship, the 23-year-old posting a round of even par 72 to be in a tie for 36th.
Rory McIlroy’s 7-under 65 gives the Northern Irishman a two-shot buffer heading into round two with Aussies Jason Scrivener (71) and Lucas Herbert (72) also back in the pack.
Cameron Smith’s 6-under 64 is the best of the Aussies after round one of the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic at Sea Island Resort in Georgia, brilliant wedge play setting up a host of birdie opportunities on the Seaside Course.
Smith is four back of Colombian Sebastian Munoz (60) and leads the Aussie contingent that includes Adam Scott (67), Matt Jones (three-under through 16), Jason Day (two-under through 15), Brett Drewitt (72) and Cam Davis (73).