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News You May Have Missed: April 2024 - Australian Golf Digest News You May Have Missed: April 2024 - Australian Golf Digest

Aussie Of The Month: Hannah Green

Hannah Green became the fifth Australian to win at least four times on the LPGA Tour with her birdie-birdie-birdie finish to the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore in March.

Green joined an illustrious club that includes Karrie Webb, Jan Stephenson, Minjee Lee and Rachel Hetherington. Now, with the women’s major season starting this month at the Chevron Championship at Carlton Woods, Green has set her goals even higher for the rest of the year: make the Australian women’s team for the Olympics in Paris in August, and win another major to go with her 2019 Women’s PGA Championship title.

“I am really excited for Chevron,” Green said. “That was one of the tournaments that I did not play the weekend last year, so that kind of was like a slap in the face. Last year and also 2022, I said that I wanted to be a world top-10 player. I’d like to win at least two to three times this year and if I do that, then the top-10 in the world would definitely be achieved. 

“[The] Olympics has definitely been on my mind ever since we left Tokyo [in 2021]. I knew that if I had some good results early in the season, I would be able to play my way into it. Obviously, there’s still a lot of golf left, and there’s still a lot of Aussies that want to get into the Olympics, too. This [win] is a nice way to help secure my spot in that team.”

What A Story

At 27 years old, ABC’s flagship docuseries “Australian Story” is two years older than Min Woo Lee and the same age as his two-time major winner sister, Minjee. The series, which airs at 8pm on Mondays on ABC, had featured just one golfer, Greg Norman, in its history. That was until last month. On March 4, “Australian Story” aired its 35-minute episode on the sibling bond and rivalry between Minjee and Min Woo. Since the two Perth golfers became the first siblings to win a US Girls Junior and US Boys Junior, their careers have taken off from the amateur to the pro ranks. Minjee to a higher level so far, having won the 2021 Evian Championship and 2022 US Women’s Opens to join an elite club of Australians to have won multiple majors. Min Woo, though, has three DP World Tour wins, a second place on the PGA Tour and a top-five result in the majors. Along their journey, the Lee family has not lost the ties that bind and the talented crew at “Australian Story” captured their lives in a way the Australian golf public has rarely, if ever, seen. It’s worth watching on YouTube or the ABC iView app. While the episode’s highlights include Minjee being described as “the scientist” and younger brother Min Woo as “the artist”, there was one underrated line that won’t get its due credit. In detailing her introverted personality and Min Woo’s gregarious nature, Minjee said, “I’m inward-Lee and he’s outward-Lee.” Decades from now, Minjee certainly could walk into commentary after a likely Hall of Fame career.

Min Woo Cashes In

Hours before the “Australian Story” episode aired, Min Woo, 25, banked the largest pay cheque of his young career. With a runner-up finish at the PGA Tour event at Palm Beach Gardens’ PGA National course in Florida, he bagged $US801,000 ($A1.2 million) – more cash than any of his three DP World Tour wins. 

Birdie Of The Month

Min Woo Lee’s runner-up in Florida bumped him up to 31st in the world ranking, meaning he and Jason Day are currently the two highest Australian men on the world ranking who would be eligible for the Olympic team. Minjee Lee and Hannah Green are currently in line for selection for the women’s Australian side for Paris.

Bogey Of The Month

International team captain Mike Weir confirmed LIV golfers would not be eligible for September’s Presidents Cup, meaning Australians Cam Smith and Lucas Herbert will not tee it up for the rest-of-the-world-minus-Europe side. Their jumps to LIV Golf triggered bans by the PGA Tour, their former circuit, which runs the biennial teams event. Not having Smith and Herbert lining up putts in foursomes play, particularly, will be a big loss for the Internationals when they take on the Americans at Royal Montreal Golf Club in Canada. The International team went toe-to-toe with the Americans at Quail Hollow in 2022, but it was putting that let the underdogs down. Prepare for the US side, which will closely resemble its Ryder Cup team from 2023, to extend their victory streak which dates back to a tied Cup in South Africa in 2003.

Greg Chalmers made a tidy start to his PGA Tour Champions career.

Golfers In The News

Senior Chalmers: Greg Chalmers, who famously defeated Tiger Woods and a star-studded field at the 2011 Australian Open, produced a top-10 finish on debut on the PGA Tour Champions (seniors circuit). He shared seventh at the Cologuard Classic, four shots behind the winner, Joe Durant.  

Barty Party won’t be on the links: More people ask the great Ash Barty if she will pursue a pro golf career than they do about any potential for a return to tennis, where she won three grand slams and went to world No.1 before retiring in her mid-20s to start a beautiful family with club-pro husband, Gary Kissick. “And the answer is no to both,” Barty, a low single-figure marker, said at the recent New Zealand Open Pro-Am. “I love playing as a hobby and it’s lovely to get outside for 18, go for a walk and enjoy it.”

Not an Australian, but…Takahiro Hataji became the first player from Japan to win the New Zealand Open in its 103-year history. At Millbrook Resort in Queenstown, Hataji fired a bogey-free round of four-under 67 to win by a shot from Aussie Scott Hend.

Also not Australian, but a New Zealander: Star rookie Kazuma Kobori topped the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit for 2023-2024, claiming top spot even before contesting the final event of the season, The National Tournament at The National Golf Club on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Kobori, from Christchurch, won three times during the Australasian season and registered two other third-place finishes. The Order of Merit winner secures a card for the next DP World Tour season, which begins at the 2024 Australian PGA Championship in Brisbane at the end of November.

Getty images: Xinhua News Agency, Ben Jared, Elsa, Christian Petersen