The smell of beer remained soaked into her golf shirt when Hannah Green rose Monday morning, a reminder that her first major championship victory at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship wasn’t all but a dream.
“It still hasn’t really sunk in,” she said. “I really don’t know how long it will take, either.”
Maybe Green’s wire-to-wire victory through four days of wind and rain at Hazeltine National Golf Club finally will feel real when the $577,500 winner’s check arrives.
Until then, her phone tells her it is so.
“My phone is still going crazy,” Green said. “I actually turned all the notifications off, so I could just enjoy the moment, but there had to be over 200 messages. Just to see all the messages from so many people back in Australia and all the people on tour, it was really exciting. You just wake up with a smile on your face seeing how many people support you.”
She needed a clutch 5 ½-foot putt for par on the 72nd and final hole to win by one stroke over Sung Hyun Park. When it dropped dead center in the cup with a confidently struck pace, benefactor Karrie Webb, boyfriend Jarryd Felton and a smattering of other fellow Aussies — an unusual show of support at one event — stormed the green.
“I guess it was just meant to be,” she said.
They sprayed Green with Budweiser because Webb deemed bottled water inappropriate and Foster’s Lager wasn’t readily available.
“As soon as I got home, I went straight into the shower and washed my hair,” Green said.
“I smelled my shirt early this morning, and it still smells like beer, so I don’t know if I should wash it before I leave. Even when I was doing interviews, I was like, ‘I hope everyone else can’t smell this,’ but I’m sure they could.”
And that was only the start of a night about which she said Monday, “A few of us got a little rowdy last night to celebrate.”
Green’s winning putt completed a successful up-and-down from a greenside bunker at the difficult, uphill 18th hole that Webb called “world class.”
In the biggest moment of truth in her young career, Green, 22, delivered in a tournament she led since Thursday’s opening 68, her lowest round of the week.
“I would have been really upset if, say, I would have missed that putt to force a playoff and then lost in the playoff,” she said.
“I think anyone who had led the entire tournament and then lost, that would be very heartbreaking. I was just happy the putt went in the middle of the hole, with authority. I’m glad it wasn’t lucky and lipped in or anything like that.”
Green called it a putt similar in length and break — aimed at the cup’s right edge — to one she missed earlier in a round during which her lead fluctuated from one shot to four shots and back again.
“I’ve hit so many putts like that all week really confidently,” she said. “I knew I was probably striking the ball the best I have in a long time. I felt like my hands were shaking, but I managed to strike it well enough to make it roll end over end.”
With the victory, Green moved from 114th to 29th in the women’s world golf rankings.
Until Sunday, the most she earned in her pro career was $56,000 U.S. for finishing third in the Australian Open last year.
Her $577,500 payday Sunday is worth about $830,000 Australian.
Green awoke Monday morning with a different perspective about herself than she had just 24 hours earlier.
“I definitely am going to use this week to give me confidence for I guess the rest of my career,” Green said. “To be able to handle all the pressure and break through and win, I think I will always remember that. But I don’t really want to change anything I’m doing. I obviously have done the right things to get in this position.”
She planned to play this week’s 54-hole LPGA event in Arkansas, but withdrew Monday morning and booked an evening flight to Perth, Australia — a 30-hour journey to the continent’s Far West Coast — six days before she was scheduled to go home for a visit.
“After all the hype winning the event, by the time I get to Arkansas, I probably won’t be mentally ready to play,” she said.
Green isn’t certain how her world is about to change after she joined a list of champions to win major events at Hazeltine National. That list includes Payne Stewart, Tony Jacklin, Hollis Stacy, Billy Casper, Luke Donald, Sandra Spuzich, Rich Beem, Richie Ramsay and Y.E. Yang.
“This has just changed her life,” seven-time major winner Webb said Sunday evening. “She won’t realize it until she wakes up tomorrow morning.”
A whiff Monday morning of what Green wore the night before was the first to tell her so.