Green chases major before homecoming

23rd Jun 2021

Hannah Green will go into this week’s third major of the LPGA season, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, as one of the big chances, despite the fact she his headed home for more than a month immediately afterward.

Green, who won this tournament two years ago, has booked a flight back to Perth so that she can recharge prior to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, meaning that she will miss five weeks of tournament play including a major, the Evian Championship in France.

But WPGA chief executive Karen Lunn told Inside The Ropes this week that Green knew exactly what suited her.

“It wouldn’t happen in normal times,” Lunn told the podcast. “Obviously, having to quarantine for two weeks is tough, and I know Hannah’s first year in the States she admitted to being very homesick and really struggled being away all year.

“Obviously after that, she planned her schedule to come home a couple of times a year and that was great up until Covid, it’s tough coming home when you have to quarantine for two weeks.

“It gives her a chance to see her family, really regroup, have three weeks’ practice with her coach Ritchie Smith going into the Olympics which is obviously … as a player you don’t know how many shots you’re going to get at the Olympics. I know it’s up there on Hannah’s radar.

“I understand it. There will be more Evian Championships. Missing an event of that prizemoney and the ranking points it’s a tough call but I think if I was in her shoes I would be doing the same thing. Hats off to her.”

Six Australians are in the field at the Atlanta Athletic Club this week – Green, Minjee Lee, Su Oh, Katherine Kirk, Sarah Kemp and Gabriela Ruffels.

The rookie professional Ruffels, 21, is on a sponsor’s invitation having impressed in her early starts on the LPGA Tour this year. As an amateur she finished inside the top 15 in three major championships in 2020. Lee (ranked 14th in the world) and Green (15th) are on track to take the two spots available to represent Australia at the Tokyo Olympics late next month, with the cut-off point being next Monday’s world rankings.

Green has had three top-10 finishes this season including a third place at the LA Open where she led into the back nine on Sunday before an uncharacteristic fade-out. Meanwhile Lee, a fixture in the top 10 in the world over recent years, has been quiet by her standards with just two top-10s this year.

The tournament is worth $US4.5 million, a number only surpassed by the US Women’s Open at $5.5 million and the tour championship ($5 million) for riches. The winner’s cheque is $675,000.

The Atlanta Athletic Club is a storied venue having hosted a number of men’s majors in the past. It is also the home club of the late, great Bobby Jones, one of the best players of all time.

With some wet weather in the Atlanta area over recent days it is guaranteed to play long. “I like it,” said world No. 3 Nelly Korda today. “It’s a really nice track. It’s really soft, really wet out there. I think, if it’s going to continue being soft, it’s going to play advantage to the longer hitters, which I obviously like.”

The tournament will be televised live by Fox Sports and Kayo in Australia from 7am Friday (Australian eastern time).