One of Australia’s most promising golfers, Hannah Green, has taken the professional plunge.
Green, 19, today announced she would leave the amateur ranks after a stellar career that culminated in representing Australia at last month’s World Amateur Championship.
The six-time West Australian state team representative will tee up as a pro for the first time at the second stage of the LPGA Tour’s Q-School in Venice, Florida, from 20-23 October. She skipped the first stage by virtue of her world ranking being inside the top 400, despite having only played a handful of pro events.
Among those tournaments was her runner-up finish to world No.1 Lydia Ko in the 2015 ISPS HANDA New Zealand Women’s Open, the forerunner to a brilliant 2016 summer campaign that was critical in her decision.
After finishing T11 alongside Karrie Webb in the Victorian Open, Green returned to New Zealand to play in the same group as Ko and again finished T10. She then finished low amateur and T20 against the world’s best players at the LPGA Tour-sanctioned ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open before being leading Australian and T12 at the Ladies Masters.
“Doing well in those events showed me I was closer to making the transition than I’d previously thought, so it’s time,” said Green, who also reached the quarter-finals of the US Women’s Amateur, was joint runner-up in the Canadian Women’s Amateur and a member of the successful Asia-Pacific team in the Patsy Hankins Trophy in Portugal during a busy 2016.
“I need to go and compete at that level and test myself against the world’s best players more regularly.”
A three-time champion at her beloved Mount Lawley in Perth, Green said stints behind the counter in the club pro shop had convinced her to play professionally.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love the club and the people, but that’s not part of the golf industry I’m ready for just yet. Working behind the desk for four hours really showed me I needed to work hard so I can keep playing,” she said with customary smile.
Golf Australia high performance director Brad James said Green had made tremendous progress in the past two years, particularly since her long-time junior mates Minjee Lee and Su Oh turned pro.
“She’s been getting better every year and last year was her coming-out time to say, within herself, `I do belong at the next level’,” James said.
“When she had those great results in those four pro events, it was a great sign that she was ready to take that next step … that she’s actually very good in her own right.
“Around her, we all knew. But I don’t think she knew. Now she has that inner self-belief, it’s made all the difference. “
James praised her consistency, both on and off the course.
“She started to professionalise her approach more – got caddie experience, travelled around the world and gradually got better,” he said.
“She’s a really hard worker, including in the gym and other aspects off the course and she has modified her approach to be ready to take this next step.
“Even if it’s not the first time (at Q-School), I know she’s got the game and resolve to keep going and get there at the next opportunity.”
Green, a dual winner of the Karrie Webb Scholarship, said exposure to the top players, and her friendships forged around the world, had helped ease her mind about the transition.
“Being at the US Open this year and having Lydia come up and give me a hug and ask how I’m going was really cool,” Green said.
“Obviously I’ve gotten to know Karrie a bit and she’s been awesome, plus knowing Minjee and Su is going to be helpful if I can get to that tour.
“I’ll obviously be nervous about it, but now I think I won’t be intimidated and that’s going to be really important to my golf.”
Green paid tribute to her Perth-based coach Ritchie Smith and to “all involved in getting me to the stage where I am right now”.
“I’ve been involved with Golf WA for six years now and everyone here and at Golf Australia have been very supportive, not just financially but mentally as well.
“And my parents, I don’t give them as much gratitude as I should, but I wouldn’t be in this position without them.”
Based on her outstanding performances and her previous position within the Golf Australia national squad, Green will likely become a member of the GA rookie squad in 2017.