Hannah Green’s medal challenge never quite materialised till late during the final round in Tokyo, when a weather delay halted her momentum.
Green reached 14-under after a four hole stretch that included three birdies and an eagle at the par-5 14th when electric activity in the area around Kasumigaseki halted play on Saturday afternoon.
“I mean obviously at the start of the day I was trying to win a gold medal and my first couple hours on the golf course things weren't going well and I was scrambling really hard,” Green said. “So I think to be even in contention come the last couple holes really proud of myself for how I hung in there and didn't get too down on myself and tried to think of the bigger picture I guess and being so lucky that we even have an Olympics to compete in.”
A delay of around an hour allowed the major champion from Perth the chance to grab some lunch and hit some downhill putts in preparation for a similar attempt at the 17th. But a bogey at the par-4 last saw her finish at 13-under, three shots out of a play-off for the minor medals with eventual silver medallist Japan’s Mone Inami and Kiwi Lydia Ko.
“I felt like with nine holes to go that I was nowhere near it so when I made the putt on 10 I think it was really important for my confidence and then gave myself really good opportunities and I felt like I putted really solid from inside 10 feet and around 10 feet this week,” Green said.
“I felt like I made almost a bogey on 17 not birdieing that hole. Didn't hit a great tee shot, probably the worst tee shot I hit all week, so it was a little bit disappointing, but I still had a birdie putt so I felt like if I didn't have the delay I probably could have holed it and then again on the last I just misread it. There's lots of positives out of today, I can't dwell on making a bogey on 18. I have to think about where I come from on the back nine.”
Ko added a bronze medal to the silver she won in Rio, while World No.1 Nelly Korda continued her red-hot form and claimed the gold to give America both the top prizes from the Olympic Competition in Tokyo after Xander Schauffele won the men’s competition last week.
Green’s fellow West Australian and major champion, Minjee Lee, didn’t get in the hunt throughout the week, perhaps understandably so after winning the biggest title of her career less than a fortnight earlier.
Lee did close with a 68, her equal best round of the week, to share 29th and leave Tokyo with another positive Olympic experience having competed in Rio alongside Su Oh.
“It was fun. I had a fun week, even though my scores weren't too good. But it's quite exciting,” Lee said on Saturday.
Although the medals many predicted didn’t materialise for the Australian team, who bravely battled the oppressively hot conditions throughout the week in Tokyo, requiring ice vests while waiting to hit shots and regular slushie top ups from team captain Ian Baker-Finch. Both Lee and Green indicated they are keen to don the green and gold again in three years’ time in Paris.
“Yeah, definitely I'm definitely striving to make Paris. I didn't really think too much of it but I guess it is only a few years away, so hopefully I can keep continuing to play well in LPGA and do my job that way,” Green said.
“Hopefully I make it to Paris,” said Lee.