Streeter Lecka/PGA of America/PGA of America via Getty Images

Green three-putted for bogey on the 18th hole at the Women's PGA Championship for a two-under 70, leaving her one shot clear of two-time major champion Ariya Jutanugarn, who had a 68.

By Associated Press
June 22, 2019

CHASKA, Minn. — Hannah Green has a one-shot lead going into the final round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship and fresh evidence that going after her first LPGA Tour victory at a major won't be easy.

Green three-putted for bogey on the 18th hole at Hazeltine National for a 2-under 70, leaving her one shot clear of two-time major champion Ariya Jutanugarn, who had a 68.

Green, who was at 9-under 207 for her first 54-hole lead in an LPGA Tour event, had reason to feel the lead could have been larger.

She and Jutanugarn, who separated from the field, matched scores on seven straight holes until the par-4 16th, where the tees were moved up to entice players to try to drive the green.

Jutanugarn went right, bounced off the side of a hill and into the water. She pitched weakly to about 18 feet and took two putts for bogey. Green played short off the tee and hit wedge into 6 feet for a birdie, that would have given her a four-shot lead.

But the putt spun around the cup for the 22-year-old Australian, giving her a par for a three-shot lead.

Jutanugarn followed with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th hole to restore the margin to two shots, and then Green missed her tee shot to the right into the rough on 18, hit onto the front of the green and three-putted for bogey from long range.

Just like that, the lead was down to one shot.

Green, a three-time winner on the Symetra Tour in 2017, is in her second full year on the LPGA Tour. Jutanugarn, a 23-year-old Thai and among the most powerful players in the game, already has 10 victories and two majors.

They also might have some company.

Green and Jutanugarn both said the front nine felt like match play, with no one else closer than five shots. By the end of the round, it was a little bit tighter.

Lizette Salas (68) and Nelly Korda (69) were four shots behind at 5-under 211. Another shot back was Sei Young Kim, who had the low score of the round at 67, and defending champion Sung Hyun Park (71).

Still in the game was Inbee Park (69) at six shots behind. Park won the last LPGA major in Minnesota at Interlachen for the 2008 U.S. Women's Open, her first major in a Hall of Fame career.

Jutanugarn powers tee shots with her 2-iron and 3-wood, often some 20 yards past Green's driver. But the Australian was cool as can be with putts, matching birdies with Jutanugarn on the par-3 fourth hole, and making a 40-foot putt for birdie on the fifth.

Jutanugarn hit 3-wood off the tee and 5-iron to back collar of the green on the par-5 seventh, while Green laid up from a reasonable lie in the rough and hit wedge to 10 feet to match birdies.

Even so, Green wasn't happy with how the putts dropped - they died in the hole instead of going in with pace - and she fears it cost her at the end with her long three-putt bogey.

''Overall, I have to be happy, playing with Ariya for the first time and trying to keep up with her,'' Green said.

She only felt the nerves when she had time to think, such as the long wait on the 15th and 16th tees. And when she missed the putts on the 16th for 18th holes, she wondered if it was nerves creeping in.

Green is staying this week with Karrie Webb, Australia's most prolific major champion. Webb missed the cut but has stayed around with two amateurs who won her scholarship program, and she has been telling Green to embrace the moment.

Jutanugarn, who has far more experience, is thinking the same way.

''I'm so free,'' she said. ''I'm not thinking about the outcome.''

It figures to be a slow round Sunday. Overnight rain was in the forecast, so the final round will be played in threesomes off both tees instead of twosomes starting before 7 a.m., when the rain was still likely.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)