It will take something special for Hannah Green to catch Korea’s Jin Young Ko and win the 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. But the 21-year-old is still well within touch and will play in the final group on Sunday.
The Perth native, who fired the round of the day with an exhilarating six-under 66, will begin four shots back of Ko.
Both players are playing their first seasons on the LPGA Tour and have outshone some of the world’s biggest names to already give themselves fantastic opportunities to break into the winner’s circle.
Green, in particular, has had lofty goals set in place from day one – and will stick to those goals tomorrow despite the potential of a duel for the Patricia Bridges Bowl.
“If I was coming into this event with a little bit lesser form I would’ve been happy to make the cut,” Green said. “So I’m not here to just make the cut, I’m here to win.
“I’ve put myself in contention so I’m very happy with how things are turning out.
“You have to notice what she’s (Ko) doing because you are chasing her, but you can’t get so stuck into her game that you kind of drift off yours,” Green said.
The 2017 Symetra Tour Rookie of the Year bolted out of the gates at Kooyonga this morning to birdie her first three holes and make the turn at six-under for the tournament.
But it was the final four holes of the day that showed the crowds following her exactly what she is all about.
Yesterday, Green bogied holes 15 to 18 and seemingly fell right out of contention.
But today the rising star showed tremendous tenacity and went par-birdie-bogey-birdie to sign off on a good day’s work – all of which was a result of extra work on the range last night.
“It was obviously tough last night finishing, but I actually got over it really quickly, went straight to the range and hit some balls,” Green said.
Meanwhile, Australia’s highest ranked female golfer, Minjee Lee, carded an adventurous three-under 69 – which included four birdies, an eagle and three bogies – to leap into a share of fifth; six shots off the pace.
But despite that hefty margin, the West Australian still has eyes on winning the championship.
“I think I can still win,” Lee said. “I think I have every chance to, I’ve just got to probably shoot the lights out tomorrow.”
There’s no doubting the Aussies’ desire. But the player the pair will be chasing, Korea’s Ko, appears unshakable at the top of the leaderboard and could go on to win the event wire-to-wire.
The 22-year-old shot a one-under 71 – in a round that included four birdies and three bogies – and her game plan is simple.
“This course is narrow,” Ko said. “So I’m thinking only about the greens and then two putts. Birdies will be okay, but yeah, that’s it.”
Katherine Kirk is the next best of the Australian contingent and sits in a share of 19th while Stephanie Na is in a tie for 22nd.