It was small consolation for a major champion with bigger things on her mind at the start of this ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
But at the close of what had clearly been a frustrating week at Royal Adelaide, Hannah Green at least had the "honor" of finishing low-Aussie. Her closing round of 74 for an aggregate of 286, six-under par, saw the West Australian - currently ranked 22 in the world - finish T-13, eight shots behind the triumphant Inbee Park.
Still, any sense of disappointment must be tempered by the knowledge that such a score is far from poor playing over four days. Especially on a top-class course with the wind such a significant factor. But when you are the reigning Women’s PGA champion, expectations - both from within and from others - inevitably rise. So, while this was solid stuff from Green, she left the premises in philosophical mood with regard to both her overall finish and her play in the blustery conditions that prevailed on day four.
“I felt like I hit good shots, but I made bad club choices and got myself in a bit of a pickle more than once,” she said.
“That wasn’t difficult to do today though. It was windier today than it has been all week and the greens are definitely firming up. So it wasn’t easy. I don’t know what course Inbee was playing. It is tough out there. And I did scramble well on the back-nine. So in the end I’m happy enough with my one-over finish.”
Indeed, it is difficult to be too hard on Green, whose still-new status brought with it a new level of attention both on and off the course. Inundated with media requests, she fulfilled every one with her usual easy smile. Few have a more amiable disposition, one that attracts autograph hunters - small children in particular - in droves.
The minutes after Green holed out on Royal Adelaide’s 18th green were typical in that respect. Leaving the scorer’s area, she posed for a stream of selfies, signed all kinds of paraphernalia and even received a hand-written - in crayon - message from a diminutive admirer. Which came as no surprise. As Green walked towards that final green, a small boy was heard to chant her name over and over. There is no doubting the breadth of her appeal.
“Getting as much attention as I have this week is definitely something you need to get used to,’ she said with a smile. “Last week at the Vic Open it felt like my face was everywhere. That’s something I haven’t experienced before. But it is a good thing to feel a bit of pressure. When you do that, it’s clear that it means something to you. This is one of my favourite events so I’m happy to have posted a decent score. And that has a lot to do with the fact that I have so many people here supporting me.
“I’m also happy that the week is almost done,” she admitted. “It’s been a long few days and I’m very tired. Which may seem a bit odd because I can’t wait to do it all again. I don’t really mind talking to the media. I know a lot of girls freeze up, especially those for whom English is not their first language. That’s perfectly understandable. But I’m happy to promote golf in Australia in any way I can. And I guess it’s always a good thing when the media want to talk to you.”
All of which was the verbal climax to a day that had started well enough. An early birdie at the par-5 second had promised much for the 23-year old. But three bogeys in the next five holes put paid to any lingering hopes of a late challenge to the seemingly relentless Park. Thereafter, Green - only the third Aussie woman to win a major - steadied. The shot she dropped on the par-3 7th turned out to be her final bogey of the week. But only a single birdie followed, a sign perhaps of the inevitable fatigue she was feeling.
Never mind, with the cancellation of the next two LPGA events because of the spreading coronavirus in Asia, a week off beckons in Melbourne in the company of fellow LPGA pro, Su Oh.
“Then it’s back to Perth for a few weeks before my next event in Phoenix,” said Green. “I was really looking forward to the next two events. I’ve never been to Thailand or Singapore. But it would have been a tough stretch after such a busy two weeks down here and with the heat to contend with. So it might not be the worst thing for me personally. I do need some time off.”