Hannah Green claims wire-to-wire victory in KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Thomas J. Russo/USA TODAY Sports

Hannah Green claims wire-to-wire victory in KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

LPGA Tour

Hannah Green claims wire-to-wire victory in KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

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CHASKA, Minn. – Karrie Webb has watched too many LPGA champions get doused with water on the 18th green and made sure Hannah Green was drenched in Budweiser at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. And you’d better believe the LPGA Hall of Famer was right in the middle of the suds-fest, celebrating like she’d just won her eighth major title.

“It’s the same emotions,” said Webb. “You didn’t do it yourself but, you know, you supported someone to realize that dream.”

Webb got choked up just thinking about how this day would change Green’s life. How it will reverberate throughout the Australian sports landscape, one that saw French Open champion Ashleigh Barty rise to No. 1 in tennis on the same day. Green becomes the third Australian to win an LPGA major, joining Webb (seven) and Jan Stephenson (three).

It was after a young Webb watched her hero, Greg Norman, compete in the 1986 Queensland Open that she came home and told her parents that she wanted to play professionally. She even stayed at Norman’s Florida estate as a bonus for being the over girls champion in his junior golf foundation.

Webb never forgot the experience, and in 2008 brought the first winner of the Karrie Webb Scholarship to the U.S. Women’s Open at Interlachen, about 16 miles down the road from Hazeltine National.

In addition to the $10,000 scholarship, it was important to the seven-time major winner that Australia’s best got an up-close-and-personal look at what it takes to compete at a major championship. Hannah Green was a two-time scholarship recipient, attending her first professional golf tournament at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open in Lancaster, Pa. She enjoyed it so much that in 2017, she went on her own to stay with Webb at the Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., while competing on the Symetra Tour.

At Hazeltine, Green stayed in a house with Webb, LPGA player Su Oh (another one of Webb’s scholarship alums) and recipients Grace Kim and Becky Kay. Stacey Peters (formerly Keating) was the first player to come with Webb to Minnesota back in 2008. She arrived in Minnesota on Wednesday and currently works as the female high-performance developer for Golf Australia.

Peters was supposed to prepare the Aussie BBQ players enjoyed on Saturday night, but Webb ended up doing most of the cooking, whipping up Aussie rissole and beef short ribs. It was the perfect way for Green to unwind before stepping into the cauldron on Sunday.

“Yes, the (scholarship) money is a great bonus,” said Green, “but being able to stay in a house with her, literally, I guess, breathing on her, watching everything she does in a tournament, majors, and watching outside the ropes, it definitely gave me a big insight into what it was like.”

And now Kim and Kay, who wore spectacularly loud and tacky costumes all week at Hazeltine, got the opportunity to not only stay with an Australian legend, but watch an up-and-coming star dazzle right before their eyes.

“Can you come every week?” Green asked her faithful followers gathered in the media room, which included longtime boyfriend Jarryd Felton, a touring pro who happened to be finishing up a three-week stretch with Green on the road.

It wasn’t just the Aussies who were inspired. A young fan named Lily handed Green a hand-written poem after the seventh hole. Green had signed a ball for Lily at the ANA Inspiration and wanted to return the favor with an encouraging note that read “You can win this.”

Green tucked the poem in her yardage book so it wouldn’t get wet and, when she felt nerves on the back nine, pulled it out for a boost.

The tough yet humble player takes every chance she can to give a young girl a high five, a smile or a quick hello.

“It only takes a second,” said Green, “and it can change someone’s life.”

Webb stood in the back of the interview room listening to Green give her winner’s press conference with a big, shiny trophy by her side.

Green’s wire-to-wire victory couldn’t have come at a better time for the growth of women’s golf in Australia, she said. That up-and-down from the bunker on the 18th? World class.

The fact that a crack of thunder shook the house Saturday night and Green didn’t even hear it? The perfect way to explain how level she remains under pressure.

Webb believes that Green has a mind that was built to win majors. It’s not the only way the young protege wants to emulate her hero.

“If Karrie ever does give up the scholarship,” said Green, “I would love to pick it up and continue to do something like she’s doing.”

And with that, Webb’s heart might have burst right out of her chest.

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