Home » Hannah Green: Green And Gold – Australian Golf Digest

Hannah Green: Green And Gold – Australian Golf Digest

Major champion and five-time LPGA Tour winner, Hannah Green, sits down to chat Olympic hopes for her Australian team, being married to a fellow travelling tour pro and everything else that comes with being Australia’s top-ranked golfer.

Ten years in golf can either be a long time or it can feel like yesterday, depending on how you look it. If Hannah Green thinks about a decade in terms of her career, well, it starts to look like light years. But when you talk to the affable Perth tour pro, she’s essentially the same person, although much has changed since she walked onto the grounds of Lancaster Country Club, in the rustic Amish region of Pennsylvania, at the 2014 US Women’s Open. Only now, she’s married, has won a major and four other LPGA Tour titles. Oh, and she’s Australia’s top-ranked golfer.

Green, now 27, can remember the first time she saw her idol, the great Karrie Webb. It was during a practice round at Lancaster before the 2014 US Women’s Open, and Green, as well as Julienne Soo, were guests of the seven-time major winner they call “Webby”. Green had won the 13-tournament Karrie Webb Series, along with runner-up Soo, and were each awarded a scholarship of $10,000 dollars to put towards elite amateur tournament travel expenses. They were also flown across the Pacific to attend the US Women’s Open to observe how two-time US Open winner Webb prepared and competed. 

“I was a spectator last time in Lancaster; now I’m pretty excited to be inside the ropes this time,” Green, now ranked world No.5 – the highest of any Australian woman or man – tells Australian Golf Digest Women.

Green isn’t just inside the ropes, though. She’ll be in with a chance to win and has emerged as a legitimate threat to the winning machine that is world No.1 Nelly Korda. 

“I’m super-excited for the majors this year. Not that I wasn’t excited about Houston [the Chevron Championship, the first women’s major of 2024, where Green missed the cut]. “I think Lancaster will be like what the USGA would say is a typical US Open. It’s really hilly, with long, thick, rough and quick greens.

The US Open, which was followed by the Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club near Seattle, is where Green feels her best chances will come in future for a second career major to go with her 2019 Women’s PGA Championship title.

“I think the US Open would be my best chance to win another major,” Green says. “Evian [Championship, the women’s major in France each July], I’ve been to many times, and it’s not my favourite golf course that we play (a T-30 is Green’s best result in five starts). I have a love/hate relationship with that golf course. So that’s going to be something I have to really work on. The US Open is the one, on paper, that I think sets up best for my game, especially if it is tougher conditions. I feel like that’s
what you expect at a US Open. That’s what I hope the conditions will be like.”

The Women’s British Open will head to the iconic Old Course at St Andrews where Green, Minjee Lee and the rest of the Australian contingent will be hoping to follow up fellow Australian Cameron Smith’s 2022 victory at the 150th Open Championship, the most recent major played on the historic links.

“I really like links golf, even though my results would not suggest that,” Green says. “I’m really excited to go to St Andrews, for obvious reasons. I feel good about the majors and the rest of the year. We’ve got some really exciting tournaments coming up.”

Regardless of Green’s results at the US Women’s Open and Women’s PGA Championship, or the Evian and British Open after this cover story, Green feels she is close to following in fellow West Australian Minjee Lee’s footsteps as Aussie golfers to have won multiple majors. Lee’s victory at the 2022 US Women’s Open, which followed her 2021 Evian triumph, put her in an elite class. Webb (seven), Jan Stephenson (three) and men’s greats Peter Thomson (five), Greg Norman (two) and David Graham (two) are the only other Australians to have won more than one major.

Green feels there is far less pressure on her to win majors now. Her first of five LPGA Tour wins was a major, putting her in rare air.

“I think it does make it less stressful,” Green says. “I think for Minjee, because I had won one before her, it was even harder for her to get it. And then as soon as she got one, she got the next one a year later. I think once you win one… Also, she’s obviously won 10 tournaments on the LPGA Tour now. [Winning majors] makes things somewhat easier. It is hard because at major championships, everyone wants to play really well. Everyone’s working hard to make sure they’re at their peak performance for that week. I have had two wins this year; I feel like I’m incapable of having another trophy in my hands this season. But I don’t want to be [focusing on] that. I just want to make sure that I’m thinking day-by-day and round-by-round versus [thinking about] lifting the trophy.”

Long distance

Green married Australian tour pro Jarryd Felton in January, although there was no time for a honeymoon. Felton had to travel east for the Webex Players Series Victoria at Rosebud Country Club while Green was preparing to launch her 2024 season in Asia.

“It’s good. I definitely haven’t seen Jarryd as much as we would like, but he’s trying to play tournaments and we understand. He [was flying out to the US at the time of writing], so that’ll be nice.

“We’ve been dating for so long and we chose to become golf professionals when we first started dating. We knew the sacrifices. We understand those and it does suck. I hate having to say that I haven’t seen Jarryd for six, or seven weeks.”

It begs the question, do Green and Felton play golf together? Who wins?

“We don’t actually practise or play together that much, just because a lot of times we’re not in Perth at the same time. We do like to play together [occasionally] just because it is a bit of fun. We have pretty good banter. When we practise together, that’s when we get a little distracted and when I think opinions about each other’s swings [come out]. I guess it’s like going to work with your significant other – not everyone would probably be able to do it,” she laughs.

The power couple make it work, though, on and off the course. “We’re both living our dream, that makes it a little bit easier. Thank goodness for FaceTime!”

Green won twice within seven tournaments during March and April on the LPGA Tour, the HSBC Women’s World Championship and the LA Championship at Los Angeles’ delightful Wilshire Country Club, her second straight year winning that event.

As the saying goes, ‘Happy wife, happy life’.  

“I feel like I’m on cloud nine at the moment. At the start of the season, Ritchie [Smith, Green’s coach, who
also coaches Min Woo and Minjee Lee] and I were talking about goals, and what we needed to get better at than last year. I wasn’t really playing many weekends, I wasn’t very consistent throughout the season, [but] I had some top-fives. But then I also had a lot of missed cuts. I have missed a couple of cuts this year, but those rounds or those tournaments, I pretty much lost [my swing] in the first nine holes of the tournament. Even though I have had two wins, I want to make sure I’m not getting too ahead of myself and I’m doing the same boring [but relaxing] things when I’m in weeks off.”

Green makes no complaints about earning a good living and travelling the world. She does consider the Fort Worth area, near Dallas, somewhat of a base where she has a regular golf club to practise. But she does point out long distance relationships are just one of the downsides that, like in any job, do exist – regardless of how glamorous it seems from the outside. 

“I was hoping with [Netflix’s] ‘Full Swing’ that they would show more [of the gritty side of travelling] on tour. Obviously, the LPGA and the PGA Tour are very different. I don’t think anyone’s flying private on the LPGA.”

The one week Felton and Green can guarantee they’ll see each other is during the Australian Open, which since 2022 has been played concurrently across the same two courses, first in Melbourne in 2022 and in Sydney in 2023. While Green enjoys the mixed event, it’s the timing of the women’s tournament that is a problem. The Women’s Australian Open used to be held in February when it was co-sanctioned with the LPGA Tour and brought most of the top 50-ranked women Down Under.

“We want it back in this old time slot that we used to have,” Green says. “That’s what drew the girls to come down because it was before the Asia Swing. So, a similar time zone. Technically not that far, even though it’s sometimes it can be an eight-hour flight. I think that’s the only time slot that can work to have LPGA players come, especially now that we have the Grant Thornton Invitational [mixed teams event with the PGA Tour] in December [which makes it difficult for tour pros to get to Australia for the Open at a similar time of the year]. February or even January is a better time of year. I’m all for the men and women playing same time and same venue. It’s just the time of year that makes things tricky.”

As for watching hubby, and men’s golf in general, Green says there are benefits. It’s often said the average club golfer could learn a lot from watching LPGA Tour and women’s professional golf than men’s because it’s more relatable in strategy and distance.  

“I’d actually been messaging Minjee because we were thinking about going to the Byron Nelson [men’s PGA Tour event to watch]. We’re both in Texas, so we were thinking about going and watching. I’ve never actually watched a PGA Tour event. I’d love to go and just watch those guys and be inspired.

“It’s probably good for us to go and watch every once in a while,” Green ponders. “I want to play as boring golf as possible. I want to hit every fairway and every green and obviously hole a few putts along the way. But the guys just hit it everywhere. They hit it so far and just play golf so differently. It’s kind of nice to observe it every once in a while. Even just to see how men play chip shots and their imagination is great. When I watch Augusta, I get so motivated to practise.”

Olympic dreams

Green and Lee have set their sights on a medal for the golf component of the Paris Olympic games, which will be held at the French Open and former Ryder Cup venue, Le Golf National near Versailles. Australia’s women’s team will be Green and Lee, ranked No.5 and No.9 on the Rolex Women’s Rankings. The men’s team is likely to be Jason Day and Min Woo Lee. At the Olympics, each country is allowed to send a maximum of four golfers if they have that many within the top 15 in the world, otherwise they send two golfers for the 72-hole individual strokeplay event. Not only are Green and Lee ranked within the world’s top 10, both are major champions and finished fifth as a team at the 2020 Olympics during Covid in Japan (held in 2021). Only the USA, Korea and China have two or more golfers within the top 15 on the women’s world rankings.

“I wasn’t sure what my world ranking would jump to after winning [the LA Championship],” Green says. “I didn’t want to sound arrogant and confident I was in the team, and then all of a sudden perhaps [LPGA Tour winner in 2023] Grace [Kim] wins five times. But I’ve solidified my spot in the team, I’m really looking forward to representing Australia again. In Tokyo, I never really got to get the full experience [because of Covid-19 restrictions]. We decided to stay in a hotel versus in the Olympic Village. I didn’t get to meet any other athletes. It was strict, we had to stay in our hotel room or go to the golf course. So just experiencing that will be really cool to meet other athletes that perhaps might be their last Olympics.

“On tour, Minjee and I have been talking a little bit about Paris. We tried on some uniforms, during the [Australian] Open last year, to see what it looks like. We’ve been talking about logistics, with closing ceremonies and things like that. The Olympics isn’t in our usual European swing [each year]. We actually have two [Europe] swings now because the Open Championship is, I guess, a standalone event [in August]. Whether we go back to the US or stay in the UK – things like that we have been talking about, which is obviously a good problem to have.”

Being Australia’s top-ranked player is also a good puzzle to solve. But Green never dreamed of being Australia’s top player, ahead of Lee and, on the men’s side, former world No.1s Day and Adam Scott, as well as former No.2 Smith. 

“Not really, I never assumed that I would be in front of Minjee just because only a couple of years ago, she had a chance to be No.1,” Green says. “Even with [Smith] when he won The Open, we just assumed that he was not going to be on [LIV Golf, which does not offer work ranking points]. I just assumed that he was always going to be in the top 10 in the world [for a long time]. It’s a great honour to have my name at the top.”

And now that she is topping the Australians, Green says she’ll be the same starry-eyed teenager she was watching her idol, Webb, at the 2014 US Women’s Open. Only now, the semi-retired Webb is watching her.

“It is nice to be thought as one of the favourites [on the LPGA Tour], but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself now that I’m in the top 10 in the world,” Green says. “Nothing’s really changed, and it won’t in how I’ll approach things.” – Additional reporting by Steve Keipert

Getty images: Jason Butler, Ezra Shaw, Orlando Ramirez; hannah green/instagram