Photo courtesy of PGA of Australia
Australia’s latest major champion Hannah Green capped an extraordinary 2019 season earlier this week receiving the most prestigious award in Australian golf, the Greg Norman Medal.
The West Australian was recognised for her two-win season on the LPGA Tour in the United States at a gathering of the who’s who of Australian golf at RACV Royal Pines Resort on Tuesday evening, host venue for this week’s Australian PGA Championship.
Following in the footsteps of fellow West Australian Minjee Lee, Green becomes the second consecutive female recipient of the award, recognition of her major championship triumph at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship which she followed up with victory at the Cambia Portland Classic.
Following the pre-tournament pro-am at the PGA Championship of Australia on Wednesday, where Green played alongside 2013 Masters Champion Adam Scott and Rugby League legend Johnathan Thurston, the Perth star sat down with Australia’s Golf Media to talk about her breakout 2019 season.
MODERATOR: What a remarkable year its been Hannah, it must have been a huge thrill last night to be awarded the highest honour in Australian Golf, The Greg Norman Medal.
HANNAH GREEN: Yes absolutely, its really great to be recognised by so many past players, it was a really tough competition this year.
MODERATOR: How big an impact has Karrie Webb had on your career? I know growing up she was an idol of yours.
HANNAH GREEN: Yes
MODERATOR: And obviously working closely with her as your professional career took flight. How significant of a role did she play?
HANNAH GREEN: Yes, huge. Karrie took me to my first LPGA tournament to watch and then to the U.S. Open, that's when I knew I wanted to turn pro. It was just perfect, it was even better that week because she finished in the top‑10 so got to see the stuff like media. That was the first time I really got to see how much there is to do when you’re in contention and I think that really helped me at the KPMG.
Karrie has been a huge factor in my career and probably a lot of other girls on Tour at the moment, so I really have to thank her for opening everyone’s eyes.
MODERATOR: What was your goal‑setting like heading into this season? You would have been fiercely determined to make your mark on the Tour. Did you envision at all the success that would await this year?
HANNAH GREEN: No, not at all. I didn’t have any plans to win any tournaments. So yes, you go out there trying to do your best, but on my goal list, none of them was to say win a major, win a tournament. It was pretty much just trying to stay as consistent throughout the season.
Last year I missed 10 cuts and I just wanted to make sure that I was making the cuts, but also finishing better on the results side when I did make the cuts. So obviously besides the two wins I did achieve that, so I’m really happy. It wasn’t too up and down a year this year. There was some really poor results, I think I shot in the 80s the first major of the year, so there were some low points this year, but obviously some really high points, too.
MODERATOR: Speaking of goals, what are your goals for the upcoming season?
HANNAH GREEN: I haven’t actually sat down and thought about it. So I came home from CME Championship, then went to the Aussie Open to watch my partner Jarryd play, and then visit Presidents Cup last week and now I am here this week. I really haven’t had much time to relax and soak it all in as such.
So when I get back home, I’m going to be home for two days and then I go to Bali, when I am back I’ll go and see my coach and start setting goals and start getting a plan for January to get me ready for the season.
MODERATOR: Have you played with Adam Scott before and what do two major winners talk about?
HANNAH GREEN: It was my first time actually meeting him this morning, so it was really cool to be interacting with him and watching him obviously coming off some good form from last week. It’s great that he’s, I guess, in his hometown playing here. Just to even see how he interacts with all the kids and everyone coming up and asking for signatures, it’s time-consuming. I give it to him, and he’s done a really great job of handling it all.
We were just talking about last week, talking about the course this week and just scheduling. Just, normal stuff, nothing too different, he is really approachable and easy to talk to.
QUESTION: I guess you mentioned the word “scheduling” there. I know you’re committed always to play as much as you can on the ALPG Tour, but any little tweaks you can see for the local women’s tour that would be beneficial?
HANNAH GREEN: This year I was lucky enough, I got to play four events on the ALPG, but two events will clash this year so I’ll only get to play two which is a shame
But I heard with the PGA and the ALPG merging that if we can get some more events on the schedule and then I can play more at home, I think my stats would show that I play really well when I have the crowd behind me. I’ve had good results the last few Australian Opens, so I would love to play at home and I wish the LPGA could have some more tournaments, more co‑sanctioned events here. Hopefully, that can happen in the future.
QUESTION: You mentioned earlier about what you learned from Karrie when she took you over there about practice and media. How much have you put that into practice I guess in six months since you won, in terms of balance, practice, etcetera?
HANNAH GREEN: Yes it has been huge. I guess once I won KPMG and I signed my scorecard, I was there for four hours after the round finished doing all the media, getting ready for next year with all the commercial stuff, so that was a huge eye-opener to me.
I had no idea. I just thought you go home and celebrate pretty much, so that was a little bit delayed.
But even just coming back to my next event, it was another major so obviously a bigger tournament but when I got to Evian, I had only one request that I had known about, but by the time I got there I had to do six or seven things.
Now that I’ve signed with IMG, they can help me schedule my week, and it’s great that they’ve jumped on board and I’m really happy to have them.
I didn’t realize how time-consuming it all is. Obviously at the KPMG, leading wire to wire, I had to do press conferences and I didn’t practice just because I was so exhausted. It takes a lot of time out of you, and I really respect all the world top‑10 players, male and female, it’s a lot to juggle.
QUESTION: I guess winning in Portland must have been very special because there was the potential for a letdown after the KPMG. Was that a particularly satisfying week for you to be able to go on and win again?
HANNAH GREEN: Yes definitely. It was just as important as the first win. Obviously to myself, it was kind of out of the blue to win KPMG, but I think to come back to another event and be able to take another title just proves that it wasn’t just a fluke and I’m not going to be a player that just wins once.
I actually missed the cut the week before Portland and also the week before KPMG, so I wasn’t really thinking too much about winning. I think it was really good for me to have kind of a clear mind. I played some of my best golf at Portland, so it was great to be in contention and come out with a win, it gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.
QUESTION: Just what are you going to do between now and the Vic Open? Is there an event somewhere else before the Vic Open on the LPGA Tour? Will you play that?
HANNAH GREEN: No, I won’t be. On the LPGA Tour we have the Tournament of Champions which is the second week of January, and then following that the second week in Boca, so both in Florida.
But I’ve decided to not play them as I haven’t really had much time to switch off from golf yet.
Even though I have been outside the ropes most of the time these past three weeks, I still have played some golf and haven’t really been in a nongolf environment.
So when I get back to Perth on Sunday, I’ll probably put the clubs away, not go to the golf course and actually have some time off. Then I think I’ll be ready to get ready for next year.
QUESTION: And you’re working with Ritchie Smith?
HANNAH GREEN: Yes.
QUESTION: In terms of how often you deal with him during the course of the year when you’re away? He comes over, no doubt, occasionally, doesn’t he?
HANNAH GREEN: This year I actually did things a little differently. I came home to Perth maybe four or five times during the season for two to three-week spans. The first week I would generally take the week off just to get over my jet lag and get everything all sorted and then my trainer would come over for a couple weeks.
I think Ritchie actually only came over to the U.S. once and that was actually to see Minjee because I was at home at the time. It’s worked well in that sense because there’s only really so much you can do during a tournament week and I don’t have too many weeks off in the U.S.
Next year with the Olympics, with Minjee being on the team and me being in the second position, he’ll definitely come there and perhaps some other events as well. I think it’s important for him to come and watch some tournament play because sometimes it is good for him to see in person.
QUESTION: You mentioned a couple of times missing 10 cuts, you were not expecting to win this year. When did you believe that you belonged on the LPGA Tour? When did you feel comfortable? Was there a tournament where you felt within yourself that you were in a good place?
HANNAH GREEN: I probably would say last year’s Australian Open, I was in contention in the final group and ended up coming in third that week. It was pretty early to say that, it was only my second tournament as a rookie, but I think self-belief is the biggest thing with this sport. You see so many people that are so talented but they just don’t have the self-belief and that’s why they don’t make it.
By that stage I probably felt that I did deserve to be out there, but by no means did I think it was easy. I know you’ve got to work hard. With the Asian influence on Tour, all those girls are practicing all the time and that’s not how I would approach it, but I think mentally it’s probably just as hard.
QUESTION: Which of the four days at KPMG was the toughest? I mean, I guess it gets gradually tougher.
HANNAH GREEN: I think Saturday to be honest, because you’ve held the lead for a few days and then you’ve got one more round and that’s it.
It was great, I had a really good Saturday night. I was really lucky that by the time I had got home from the golf course to the house there were already others there for an Aussie barbecue. There were about a dozen of us at our place and it was great to have some Aussie banter and chatting.
No one was avoiding the situation, they all obviously knew the stakes, but it didn’t feel like anyone was putting pressure on me.
I think that was really nice to be amongst so many close people in my life that Saturday night and that’s when I felt the most nerves, but I managed to get some good rest for Sunday.
QUESTION: Did Karrie run the barbecue?
HANNAH GREEN: Yes she did, everyone else contributed in the house which was cool, but Karrie cooked that night, she is a pretty good cook. Obviously it was really good fun.
QUESTION: I just wanted to touch on the medal. Can you just describe for me the emotions and what you were thinking when you heard your name?
HANNAH GREEN: It’s pretty cool. I guess it was Scotty, Minjee and Leish who have won before, it’s a pretty hard competition. So even to have Karrie, who’s been a big influence on my career and influence on Australian golf presenting the medal to me, I was like gosh, this gives me chills. It was definitely really exciting, now that I have it, it’s really cool.