It was not as smooth sailing as many expected it would be but Hannah Green held her nerve to claim her biggest win on home soil at 13th Beach on Sunday.
The world number 30 had to fight and scrap for most of her round as she found birdies hard to come by due to tricky Sunday pin positions and some of the rust she warned about at the start of the week.
Green, 25, began the day with a five-stroke lead but that diminished to just two at the seventh when she made her second bogey of the day and fellow West Australian Whitney Hillier put the pressure on.
“I knew I needed to stay patient. It was a wind direction we haven’t had in years. Everyone was going to struggle with lines,” Green, who finished 13-under for the tournament, said.
“I knew that I wasn’t playing so well but I knew that there would be some opportunities.
“I felt like I hit good shots, it just wasn’t the right club. So that was even more frustrating. ‘Whip’ (Hillier) played well and she was making putts while I wasn’t quite getting the pace.”
Those opportunities presented themselves when Hillier dropped shots at the 11th and 13th while Green sunk her first birdie putt of the day at the par-3 12th.
From there the momentum was firmly with the major champion and nothing was going to stop her.
“I think the birdie on 12 gave me a bit of an uproar,” Green said.
“I knew 15 was birdiable and 18 was reachable too. So it was a real bonus to get the one on 14. I didn’t think I would get it that close.”
The crowd grew larger with every closing hole and Green gave them a scare at the 16th when she hit her tee shot deep into the rough, but her miraculous short game saved yet another par.
They were then treated to a brilliant tee shot at the par-3 17th and another birdie.
Victory was in the bag but Green was unable to relax.
“I felt really nervous even with a six-shot lead coming down the last,” she said.
The fans watching did not sense her nerves as she gave herself another birdie opportunity at the last – the putt slid past the hole – but it did not matter as the closing par brought on the celebrations with an array of loved ones including boyfriend Jarryd Felton and best friend Su Oh.
“It’s been such a big catch-up week. I haven’t seen a lot of these people in two years because I didn’t travel last year when there were a couple of events in January/February,” Green said.
“It’s been a big catch up and I think tonight we’ll celebrate pretty well.”
A victory on Australian soil has been something missing from Green’s resume – she had only previously won pro-ams at Pennant Hills and Hope Island in 2017 – and she has said previously that winning a Women’s Australian Open would be like winning a major for her.
She said today’s triumph was “very close” to that feeling.
“Vic Open was my first ever professional event so it definitely has special memories coming here. Lots of random memories but good memories here,” she said.
“It’s nice to have my name on a proper trophy here.”
Green’s playing partners Hillier and Karis Davidson finished in a tie for second at seven-under par, while the top-five was rounded out by Oh and rookie professional Cassie Porter at five-under par.
Fans can watch Green in action again next week at The Players Series Murray River at the Cobram Barooga Old Course.