LOS ANGELES – Hannah Green couldn’t hold back the emotion after clinching her first LPGA title in nearly four years. After finishing inside the top three the past two years at Wilshire Country Club, the steady and oft-stoic Aussie won a three-way playoff at the JM Eagle LA Championship.
“It’s been a long few years,” said Green, who parred the first 14 holes on Sunday but birdied the closing par-3 18th to finish at 9-under 275 alongside Aditi Ashok and Xiyu “Janet” Lin.
At one point late in the day, the crowded LA Championship leaderboard featured five players tied at 8 under.
American Cheyenne Knight looked primed to make a run for her second LPGA title until her second shot into the par-5 15th sailed out of bounds, resulting in a double-bogey seven. China’s Ruoning Lin held the outright lead until bogeys on the 17th and 18th derailed her bid.
The three players who found their way into the playoff did so with gutsy birdies on the closing par-3 18th. Lin actually birdied the last two in regulation.
In overtime, India’s Ashok suffered a hard lip-out from 15 feet on the 156-yard 18th, the first playoff hole. Lin then drained a 12-footer for birdie to put the pressure on Green, who hit an 8-iron to 4 feet and then converted to push it to a second hole.
After Lin found the bunker on her tee shot, Green needed only to two-putt from 25 feet to become the seventh Australian in LPGA history to earn at least three titles, joining Katherine Kirk (3), Wendy Doolan (3), Minjee Lee (8), Rachel Hetherington (8), Jan Stephenson (16) and Karrie Webb (41).
Now in her sixth season on the LPGA, Green broke through in 2019 at the KPMG Women’s PGA at Hazeltine and followed it with a second title that year at the Portland Classic. She’s a former Karrie Webb Scholarship winner, like fellow major champion Minjee Lee and recent LPGA winner Grace Kim.
Green earned $450,000 at Wilshire, bringing her career earnings total to $3,983,874.
“I said to my team and my caddie, I feel like once I get over the hurdle of having my third win that that will just open doors because I was really nervous today,” said Green.
“I hadn’t been in that position for quite some time to be especially in a playoff to win a tournament. So when I holed that 4-footer, I felt like I was literally shaking like crazy and you could see it visually. But I don’t really know. Maybe I’ll have a look at the footage.”
They don’t call her Hannah Green for nothing!
The playoff winning putt to clutch the @JMEagleLAChamp pic.twitter.com/RjenYbkGmy
— LPGA (@LPGA) May 1, 2023
After missing the cut last week at the Chevron – Green missed the cut before all three of her victories – she spoke with LPGA sports psychologist Julie Aamto to get a fresh perspective and they talked about her post-shot routine.
Green had come to realize she when she hits a bad shot, she often holds onto that club until she gets to the ball. When she hits a good shot, Green typically gives her caddie the club back right away.
“Golf can be really frustrating,” said Green, “and sometimes showing emotion is a good thing, but just making sure that it doesn’t get too deep and affect your next shot.”
Ashok worked on building swing speed in the offseason and said the added distance helped her reach more par 5s in two this week. A four-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, Ashok began 2023 finishing 1-3-2 in her first three starts on the LET.
“I’ve never played in this position on the LPGA,” said Ashok, “so to be near the lead on the first day, kind of stay there the whole tournament. The competition is just so deep out here. Ten people have a good tournament but only one can win. I’m happy with the way I played.”
World No. 1 Nelly Korda played the weekend with sister Jessica’s caddie after her regular looper, Jason McDede, rushed home to Florida Saturday morning after wife Caroline Masson gave birth to their first child, a son.
“It was very unexpected,” said Nelly, “but they’re both doing really well, both healthy, and Jason is back home with the baby. Yeah, I can’t wait to meet him. Auntie Nelly.”
Masson, 33, has competed on the LPGA the past 10 years, winning the 2016 Manulife LPGA Classic. She has represented Europe in the Solheim Cup on four different occasions.
Jessica’s regular caddie, Kyle Morrison, will be on the bag for Nelly at next week’s International Crown team event at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Nelly took a share of sixth at Wilshire.