Hannah Green (Perth, Australia) finished at 2-under par, 214 after a final round 1-over 73 to earn her first career Symetra Tour victory at the Sara Bay Classic.

Green, 20, was the only player to finish under par for the tournament on the Donald Ross design at Sara Bay Country Club. The 2017 Symetra Tour rookie bested playing partner and 36-hole leader Benyapa Niphatsophon (Bangkok, Thailand) and Princess Superal (Dasmarinas City, Philippines) who tied for second place at even par.

“I was still getting myself settled so it is nice to have a win so early in the season,” said Green. “If I get two more wins I’m at my goal (LPGA) so it is always nice to get off to a good start. There are still a lot of events left so I have to keep an eye at what is going on.”

Green earns her first career victory and the $16,500 check that comes along with it to vault into the top-10 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list at No. 3. She has now earned $21,096 in just four starts. She has finished inside the top five in two of those starts, with her previous best finish coming at the Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club (T5).

The turning point of the round was the 15th hole when Green drained a 20-foot par putt while Niphatsophon three-putted for double bogey, and the duo were then tied with three holes to play. The two players remained tied at 1-under par leading into the final hole.

Green ultimately sealed the tournament by dropping a 12-foot birdie putt after Niphatsophon tapped in for bogey on the 54th hole. Green trailed Niphatsophon, the current leader in the Volvik Race to the Card standings, by two shots going into the final round.

Green turned professional before the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in 2016. She earned Symetra Tour status by finishing T8 at Stage Two to advance to the Final Stage - she just missed out on LPGA status after finishing T67 at the Final Stage.

“I knew I was ready to turn professional end of last year,” Green said. “I just felt if I stayed an amateur I wouldn’t get worse but I wasn’t going to get better. I needed to put myself in better fields and I’m glad my game is raising. I’m really excited to continue on the Symetra Tour.”

In her young career, the Australian has clearly proven herself as a player to watch. Earlier this year, Green finished T7 as a sponsor invite on the LPGA at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The Tour heads to Milton, Georgia next week for the Symetra Classic at Atlanta National Golf Club from April 28-30.


NIPHATSOPHON COMES UP SHORT

Benyapa “Gift” Niphatsophon entered the final round of the Sara Bay Classic with a two shot advantage over Hannah Green and got up to 7-under overall thru her first four holes Sunday. A double bogey on the fifth and bogey on the sixth set her back, but she was able to birdie the ninth hole to finish the front side at even par and maintain her lead by one shot with nine holes to play.

The 19-year-old saw her advantage slip away and ultimately would fall short of earning her first career Symetra Tour victory after shooting a 5-over, 41 on the back side.

On the final hole, Niphatsophon was tied with Green at -1 and aggressively went for the green with her second shot, but went long and left, leaving her with a tough third shot on a downslope in the rough. She swept almost cleanly under the ball with her third shot and was forced to chip again with her fourth shot, and missed a long putt for par that effectively gave Green the win. Green just needed a two-putt par to clinch her first victory on the Symetra Tour (she would make her birdie putt).

“I don’t expect it to be on the green, but not there,” Niphatsophon explained. “Around the green is okay but not over there, because you see the slope – it’s very hard to get the ball to come up and my ball just rolled over there. It’s not my day, that’s why.”

Niphatsophon, who leads the current Volvik Race for the Card money list with $28,020, posted her third overall and second consecutive runner-up finish in four starts this season.

In 2016, the Thailand native competed on the LPGA Tour and made the cut in eight of her 18 starts while dealing with a left wrist injury throughout last year.

SOLHEIM VETERAN MCPHERSON POSTS STRONG RESULT

35-year-old American Kristy McPherson posted a 1-under par 71 in the final round to finish in a tie for sixth place at the Sara Bay Classic. The result is the best for the two-time Symetra Tour winner since a T3 finish at the 2016 Gosling’s Dark ‘n Stormy Classic.

The South Carolina native’s final round got off to a hot start after holing an eagle on the par-4 3rd hole.

“We had 147 and I hit an 8-iron, landed it one step in front and it went in the hole. It makes golf a lot easier when that happens – you don’t have to putt. So that was a good way to start.”

McPherson posted two wins on the Futures Tour in 2006 and has 15 career top-10 finishes on the official developmental Tour of the LPGA, with the Sara Bay Classic representing her first top-10 of the 2017 season.

The 2007 LPGA Rookie has over $2 million in career earnings playing on the LPGA and boasts 16 top-10 finishes in her career, including three runner-up results. She was also a member of the victorious Team USA squad at the 2009 Solheim Cup where she recorded a 1-3-0 record.

Despite having bogey on two of her final three holes to finish the competition, McPherson said she was happy with her overall game this week.

“It hasn’t been what I wanted in a long time, but hit a lot of fairways this week and that’s a start, especially on an old school golf course where fairways and greens and below the hole are important. Hit a lot of fairways this week and tend to be missing it one way, which is always good, just need to minimize those misses a little bit, but gaining on it. Just not the best putting week and made a few mistakes coming in, but overall it was still nice to see a few good things happen.”

 

Written By: Symetra Tour Communications

 

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