Green's late surge wins LPGA Cambia Portland Classic
Yealimi Noh's time will come.
But Sunday — late Sunday to be more precise — was Hannah Green's day at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
Noh, an 18-year-old rookie pro from Concord, California, teed off at 2:25 p.m., facing the pressure of trying to hold off a major champion in playing partner Green, 22, of Perth, Australia, winner of this year's KPMG Women's PGA Championship in June.
A victory Sunday would have earned Noh her LPGA Tour playing rights, which she admitted before the round "would change my entire life."
Only a big turn of events over the final four holes kept that from happening.
Green rallied from three strokes back, making birdies on Nos. 15 and 17, and won the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic by one shot over Noh.
It was a two-horse race all day. Noh never trailed until Green sank a five-foot par putt on the 18th, at 6:22 p.m., to cap a 5-under 67 that gave her not only the trophy but a share of the 72-hole tournament record.
Green finished at 21-under 267, matching Brooke Henderson's tally in 2015.
Henderson won that year after earning a spot in the field through Monday qualifying. Noh was trying to accomplish the same feat, and when she made a 14-foot birdie putt on Sunday's 14th hole, her lead was back to three.
Noh wound up with a 1-under 71 in the final round, and her 268 total was three strokes ahead of third-place Brittany Altomare, a 2019 U.S. Solheim Cup team member who closed with a 69.
Henderson (71) shared fourth with Japan's Nasa Hataoka (66) at 273.
Green pocketed $195,000 of the $1.3 million purse in what was her only second victory.
She won the Women's PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, with a five-foot putt on the final hole, too.
"The KPMG experience helped me today," she said.
Green's birdie on the 15th cut Noh's lead to two.
Noh's 8-iron on the par-3 16th came up short of the green, and she failed to get up and down, which reduced the lead to one.
On the 17th, Green made a big, big putt, rolling in a right-to-left, downhill putt for the birdie that made her "match" with Noh all square heading to the 18th tee.
Both players were long with their approach at the home hole. Noh chipped 13 feet past the cup. Green then left a 30-foot putt from the fringe an agonizing five feet short.
"I really didn't want to leave it short," she said. "I think I got a little scared seeing her chip go past the pin. I was kind of angry (at myself)."
Noh's par attempt curled away, though, and Green was able to manage her anger and win with a sure par stroke.
"It reminded me of KPMG," Green said. "To hole that putt … it's really awesome."
Green had led by five strokes after 36 holes, and with a tourney-record 17-under 127. Then she lost the lead on Saturday, struggling to a 73 while Noh was firing a 64.
"Yesterday I was more nervous than today, because I knew it was pretty much mind to lose with a five-shot lead," Green said.
After their Sunday battle, Noh fought off some tears but was gracious and complimentary of her chief rival.
"Yeah, it sucks," she said. "It's hard. I tried my best.
"Hannah played really solid, really great. It was fun to watch her play. She stayed really strong."
Noh now will go through the LPGA Tour's qualifying school, and it would be the upset of the century if she is not playing regularly next year and back at Columbia Edgewater for the Sept. 3-6, 2020 tournament.
"I told her, 'This won't be the last time you're in this position,'" Green said.
Green was not in this position at CECC a year ago; she missed the cut in her first trip to Portland.
She wasn't happy about that, "because I really enjoy Portland … it reminds me a lot of Perth … I've been eating out a lot here, Asian food every night … and I've been to this cafe, Proud Mary (on Northeast Alberta Street), five or six times and will probably go there again tomorrow."
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)