Hannah Green – awarded the Greg Norman Medal in 2019 for her major breakthrough
The LPGA Tour will this week play the third of its four 2020 major championships when the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is contested at the Aronimink Golf Club in Newton Square in Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.
Only the US Women’s Open in early December remains in terms of major golf for the LPGA Tour but this week’s event, which carries a purse of US$4,300,000, offers yet another chance for one of seven Australasians to add a major to their list of victories.
For New Zealander Lydia Ko and West Australian Hannah Green that feat has already been accomplished, of course, but for the likes of Minjee Lee, Katherine Kirk, Sarah Jane Smith, Su Oh and Sarah Kemp they get the opportunity, at least, to join the elite of women’s golf with a first victory at this level.
Green arrives at the historic Aronimink Golf Club as the defending champion but with only average form since her return to tournament golf in mid-August her chances or retaining her title appear slim.
In her defence, however, was an encouraging week in Portland two weeks ago when she contended through 36 holes in an event, where she was also defending a title, before a struggle in her final round eventually saw her finish 12th.
“I think because we had such a long time off it was hard to get your competitive drive back,” said Green when asked about her current form. “It was especially hard starting in Scotland where it’s such tough conditions.
“I was in a winter weather when I was back at home, so I at least kind of knew to expect some cold and windy weather, but the British Open this year was really brutal, so that was a bit of a shock to the system. So yeah, just being competitive again, and as much as you try and practice to put pressure on yourself, it’s really hard until you actually get in that moment.
“That’s probably been the biggest thing, but then also not going back to Australia; I won’t be back home until maybe after Christmas, which is probably the longest I’ve ever been away from home, so I’m hoping that I can have a win in the next few events and just book any ticket back.”
Green was asked what she was able to learn about herself as a result of a win in such an event last year.
“I think just the mental toughness. I didn’t really think I was capable to go wire-to-wire in an event, let alone a major championship, just hanging in there, and even though I was kind of crashing a little bit on the back nine, I was trying to give myself as much positive thoughts as possible and worked really well with my caddie to make sure that I knew that I was still in it.”
Hannah Green with her 2019 KPMG PGA Trophy – David Cannon Getty Images
Ko of course has 15 LPGA Tour titles to her name, two of those majors, but this is one that has eluded her considerable talents to date.
There has been glimpses on occasions that the work she is doing with noted coach Sean Foley is beginning to show its benefits having finished 6th at the recent ANA Inspiration and runner-up a few weeks earlier in the Marathon event.
“I had a couple weeks off prior to coming into this week, so hopefully I’m well rested,” said Ko. “I think we’re — obviously this is later than when we normally play this event but I think we’re all super grateful to be able to play and play at this amazing golf course with a lot of golf history. KPMG and PGA of America have taken us to a lot of great golf courses, so I think it’s going to be another great test for us this week.”
West Australian Minjee Lee has displayed some encouraging form since the LPGA returned from their enforced Covid break. She is a proven LPGA Tour event player, but a major title is what she needs to advance to the elite of the game. There is little doubting her consistency and skill will get there at some stage and it may be that on a demanding traditional American golf club layout it could be this week.
Queensland’s Katherine Kirk appears to be playing some of the best golf she has produced in a long while, her last three starts resulting in top tens and there appears little reason that another good week is not beyond her.
Queensland’s Sarah Jane Smith has made only one cut in 2020 and appears unlikely to do much better this week. Smith is attempting a return to a competitive level following the birth of her and husband Dwayne’s first child last year.
Victorian Su Oh is a shadow of her former self at present having missed seven of eight cuts in 2020 and any hopes of contention here appear to be forlorn and New South Wales Sarah Kemp is another who appears to be a long way from where she needs to be to have any chance of performing with distinction.