It took Karrie Webb 11 years to produce another Major championship-winning performance for Australia. Only this time, it wasn’t her lifting the trophy. But she was equally as nervous for Hannah Green at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Equally as emotional. Equally as proud.

“This is one of the best days I’ve had at a golf course,” a teary Webb said moments after her 22-year-old protégé claimed her maiden Major victory – and LPGA Tour title – at the Women’s PGA.

Hannah GreenWebb is incredibly modest, and won’t take any credit for Green’s breakthrough. Instead, we will do it for her. With an idea originating from Golf Australia, Webb launched the Karrie Webb Series in 2008. It was designed to be a $10,000 scholarship for two winners selected from a set of specific criteria, with the grant to be spent on international travel and playing experiences. But seven-time Major winner Webb wanted to take it further; the proud Queenslander figured the most valuable lessons would come from the scholarship winners witnessing firsthand how Webb goes about her craft. She decided the winners would be flown across to stay with her during the US Women’s Open each year.

“When I said I wanted it to be the US Open, people in my camp asked, ‘Are you sure you want to have that during the US Open?’ I said, ‘No, I’m not sure. But for their experience, they need to come to the biggest events we play.’ If we went to a standard LPGA Tour event, it just wouldn’t have that same buzz. It’s the buzz of the Majors that is so electric and unlike any other week.”

For the inaugural edition, 2008 scholarship winners Stephanie Na and Kristie Smith boarded a plane and headed for Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota. Eleven years later, Green would become the first Major champion to emerge from the series. Serendipitously, Green’s victory came 25 minutes down the road at Minnesota’s renowned Hazeltine National Golf Club.

“I don’t think, when we started Karrie Webb Series, that I could imagine how it was going to turn out,” Webb tells Australian Golf Digest over the phone, the day after Green triumphed at Hazeltine.

Winners of the Webb Series include names such as Stacey Keating, Julia Boland, Whitney Hillier and Su Oh. In 2015 when Green won, the other recipient was Julienne Soo. Melburnian Soo now plays on the women’s golf team at the University of Oklahoma and was the only Australian in the field at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur earlier this year.

And, of course, before Minjee Lee won five LPGA Tour titles and rose to world No.3, she won the scholarship twice. “Minjee doing as well as she has is just so satisfying; I don’t think I’ve ever been at a tournament Minjee has won,” Webb says.

Hannah Green

But a nervous Webb was there in the gallery at Hazeltine as Green held her nerve down the stretch. Defending PGA champion Sung Hyun Park came close as Green frittered away the four-shot lead she had earlier built when three bogeys happened in a four-hole stretch around the turn.  But Green steadied the ship, and then drained a 15-foot birdie putt at the 16th. On the 72nd hole, needing a par to win by one shot, Green got up and down from a greenside bunker. She holed a clutch, two-metre par putt to become just the third Australian to win a women’s Major – and the first since Webb won the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

“That par was world class; the way she closed out that tournament was so impressive,” Webb says. “The way she handled herself from start to finish, that experience was always going to do her the world of good; regardless of whether she won or not. You don’t see many players as composed as she was during their first
Major win.”

Hannah GreenWhen the winning putt dropped, Webb was among several Australians who ran onto the 18th green at Hazeltine to pour Budweiser beer over Green. Webb was flanked by current scholarship recipients Becky Kay and Grace Kim, both draped in Australian flags, as well as fellow competitor Oh. Green’s boyfriend, tour player Jarryd Felton, gave his significant other a kiss and a hug as she took it all in. In her winning press conference, Mount Lawley Golf Club product Green showed maturity and awareness beyond her years in paying tribute to her mentor, Webb. It was reminiscent of Adam Scott’s impressive sense of occasion in Augusta National’s Butler Cabin in 2013, when he dedicated part of his historic Masters victory to Greg Norman.

“Getting to know Karrie, staying in a house with her and watching everything she [did] in a Major tournament, gave me a big insight into what it was like,” Green said. “A US Open was a huge event to watch. I’m very grateful to her and I know everyone that has had her scholarship is very grateful, too.”

For Webb, it revealed the satisfaction she can take outside her own game as her playing career winds down. No longer playing a full schedule, Webb is relishing moments like these.

“I was proud of her in a way that I would be of a sister or daughter,” says Webb. “I could not have been prouder. I love that I have been along for the journey from her last couple of years as an amateur.

“It felt like I had won. They’re the same emotions. You didn’t do it yourself but you supported someone to realise that dream. It was one of the best days I’ve had at a golf course; it ranks really high. I’m glad it happened when I was still playing and that I was at the event to watch it in person.”

During the final round, Green had the grace and composure to stop and talk to 7-year-old fan, Lily Kostner, in the gallery. Kostner had written a motivational poem for her after becoming a lifelong Green fan earlier in the year when her favourite golfer gave her a ball at the ANA Inspiration, the first women’s Major of the year, in California.

“I got a cute little poem saying that I had given her a ball and it also said, ‘You can win this,’ and I had it in the back of my yardage book,” Green said. “A couple of times on the back nine, when I was feeling nervous and had some time, I actually read it to myself. I have to thank Lily for writing that. I think it really helped me.”

Added Green’s accomplished coach, Ritchie Smith: “It was the eighth hole of the biggest round of her life. At any other time, we would expect that of a sports star. But to break her momentum and focus at such a critical time is just not something many players would do.”

Hannah Green

On To The Next One

At just 22 years of age, Hannah Green’s résumé already shows a steep rise. After a stellar amateur career, Green turned pro in 2016. Her first full year as a professional showed the enormous talent she possesses. Green won two pro-ams on the ALPG Tour before claiming three victories on the Symetra Tour. She finished second on the moneylist of the LPGA’s secondary circuit and won the Rookie of the Year award, while earning a promotion to the LPGA Tour for 2018.

The next logical step, according to World Golf Hall of Fame member Webb, is to win more Majors and scale the world rankings.

“Winning a Major is a life-changing moment; she is not going to be the same person she was when she teed off on Sunday at Hazeltine,” Webb says. “The sky is the limit. The lid is off and she can go after it.

“I’ve seen this coming for years. I could tell that she was made to win golf tournaments on the LPGA; made to win Majors.”

“I’ve seen this coming for years. I could tell that she was made to win golf tournaments on the LPGA; made to win Majors.” – Karrie Webb

Webb’s fellow Hall of Fame member, Jan Stephenson, could not contain her excitement when contacted by Australian Golf Digest.

“Enormous,” Stephenson, 67, said when asked to describe Green’s victory in one word. “You forget how excited you become for a fellow Australian winning. To do it on a world stage, and to do it wire-to-wire fashion, is just so impressive.”

Stephenson, the first Australian woman to win a Major before adding another two in her career, was mesmerised by Green’s composure. “Her attitude was so impressive. She has a quiet confidence you have to have under that much pressure. She’s so young.

“Her attitude was so impressive. She has a quiet confidence you have to have under that much pressure.” – Jan Stephenson

“The hardest part about a Major is you have to hold yourself together more than regular tournaments; when you make a mistake at a Major it’s so exaggerated. All I know is it goes in slow motion the whole time. Then, once you break through at any level, you become much more relaxed… she has no idea what that win has done for her already.”

Like Stephenson and Webb, former pro Karen Lunn believes Green’s victory could open the floodgates to what promises to be a solid career. Lunn witnessed the early stages of Green’s meteoric rise given she is chief executive officer of Australian Ladies Professional Golf. Before she came into one of the most important roles in Australian golf, Lunn won the 1993 Women’s British Open – eight years before it became a Major championship.

Hannah Green“Those who have watched Hannah’s progress over the past five or six years are certainly not surprised by her success,” Lunn tells Australian Golf Digest. “She has a rock-solid game and is a great putter, which will take you a long way in this game.

“What has impressed me the most is how Hannah Green has the ability to thrive and perform under pressure on the big stage, which she first showed by finishing second to Lydia Ko at the NZ Open in 2015, when Hannah was an amateur.

“Clearly, she has an ability – some may call it a gift – to stay in the moment and keep herself calm enough to play her best golf under the most intense pressure. I honestly don’t think you can teach that.

“The sky is the limit for Hannah. With Minjee Lee ranked No.3 on the world rankings and Su Oh also finding her feet on the LPGA, it is a really exciting time for Australian golf.”


Understandably, Hannah Green plans to enjoy her life-changing win. She collected a cheque for $US577,000 ($A829,000) for winning the Women’s PGA. Green had always promised to treat herself to “a Givenchy handbag and a Cartier ring” upon winning her first LPGA Tour event. And there was a party, of course.

“Well, I wouldn’t say it was a party,” Green says. “My trophy, I don’t know if you saw me try to pick it up, but it was awfully heavy. So when I was taking a drink out of it last night I needed a couple of extra hands to help me lift it. There wasn’t any beer; it was vodka.”

Green immediately made the 30-hour journey back to Perth in order to celebrate the victory with her parents, family and friends.

“I never really imagined my first win on the LPGA would be a Major and I really wouldn’t have said that I would have got it in my second year on tour,” Green admitted. “I always thought I would slowly progress in my career… I was a little surprised that it has come this early in my career.”

The rest of the golf world, however, was not nearly as surprised.


For more on Karrie Webb and reflections on her epic career, see My Shot: Karrie Webb

Hannah Green spoke with Evin Priest.