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Hannah Green holds firm in KPMG Showdown

Green in action today - a study in concentration (Photo: Getty Images / Jamie Squire)
Hannah Green’s three shot 36 hole lead at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship might have been reduced to just one by former world number one, Ariya Jutanugarn, at the completion of 54 holes but the West Australian still impressed with the manner in which she dealt with the demands of leading a major championship today.

A birdie by Jutanugarn at the 17th and a bogey at the last by Green at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minneapolis today, quickly closed a gap that had been three through 16 holes, Green missing a six foot birdie putt at the 16th which would have opened a four-shot lead at that point.

Green, however, has been brilliant in handling a situation very foreign to her as she chases not only her first major championship but her very first LPGA Tour title of any description.

Despite winning three events on the Symetra Tour in 2017, this is a whole new level and If she is able to go on and convert her lead into victory tomorrow she will become the first Australian female golfer to win a major title since Karrie Webb’s 7th major win at the then Kraft Nabisco in 2006.  

Beginning the day three shots ahead of Jutanugarn, Green and the Thai golfer matched strides through the opening nine holes, the margin reduced to two with Green out in 33 to Jutanugarn’s 32.

Both players bogeyed the 13th and birdied the 15th, the margin still two as the pair stood on the tee at the short par 4 16th but Jutanugarn would find the penalty area from the tee and bogeyed while Green’s approach nestled 6 feet or so from the hole.

The gap might well have been four shots, but Green missed her very makeable putt and the gap was three heading to the 17th.

Then came the birdie by Jutanugarn at the par 3 17th and the bogey at the last by Green.

Green was asked in her post-round press conference just how she was handling the nerves given the significance of the situation.

"Surprisingly I wasn't nervous on the first tee. Obviously, it's my first time in this position so I feel like I will be a little bit nervous come tomorrow but I think when I have more time to wait in between shots that's when I started to feel the nerves and I was like, okay, my heart is beating.

"I think I need to just slow things down and take my time and make sure I'm not rushing into any shots."

So Green leads by one over Jutanugarn but there is a three-shot gap back to the rest of the field and tomorrow’s showdown should have Australian golf fans glued to their screens as Green chases a career, and potentially life-changing, breakthrough.

Let’s hope the local broadcaster in Australia finds a way to show the finishing stages of the tournament in a better manner than was the case today. As the players approached the 17th tee coverage was cut to show a repeat -yes a repeat - playing of a Super Rugby encounter!

In a share of 3rd place and certainly not out of the mix are Nelly Korda and Lizette Salas who are four from Green’s lead while another shot back are Sei Young Kim and Sung Hyun Park.

Minjee Lee improved with an even-par round today but she is back in 38th place while Su Oh, the only other Australian to make the cut, is 60th.

New Zealand's Lydia Ko, who had shown much improved form in the opening two rounds struggled to a round of 76 today and is back in 33rd place.



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