CHASKA, Minn. -- Australia's Hannah Green fired a 4-under-par 68 on Thursday, June 20, to take a one-shot lead after the opening round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Hazeltine National in Chaska.
Green, in just her second year on the LPGA Tour, posted a bogey-free round that featured four birdies. Three of them came on par 5s, included holing out from the greenside bunker on No. 7, and she grabbed the lead over South Korea's Hyo Joon Kim and England's Mel Reid, who both shot 69.
The 22-year-old Green battled through cold and rain and admitted she wasn't quite prepared for the tough Minnesota conditions.
"I don't own a pair of rain pants. That was difficult. I only brought one jacket, and I was freezing cold. My caddy and I both really weren't prepared for the rain," said Green, who expressed gratitude to the volunteers who brought her fresh towels that helped keep her grips dry.
Green missed the cut at last year's Women's PGA, and she has just three career top-10 finishes on tour, including a tie for 10th at this year's Women's Australian Open in February. She finished tied for 34th at the recent U.S. Women's Open.
The Aussie credits mentorship from countrywoman Karrie Webb, a seven-time major winner, for giving her added confidence. Green won the 2015 Karrie Webb Scholarship and vividly recalls watching her first U.S. Women's Open that year as Webb's guest from outside the ropes.
"That was a real eye-opener for me, and I guess it's pretty cool now to be doing that today," said Green, who with played a practice round with Webb at Hazeltine.
"I don't think she's ever really told me anything (specifically about playing in a major), but I know it's different, obviously it's a bigger event, we play for more money. ... I think you just have to be really patient. I know that sounds silly and everyone says that every week, but this is the week that you need to do it, and I think I was really good out there. I didn't really rush into anything.
"I was always comfortable with the club and the shot that I was seeing. I think that was really what was the difference today compared to how I played last week and even how I've played at the start of the year."
Six players are knotted in a tie for fourth place after shooting 2-under 70, including defending champion and world No. 4 Sung Hyun Park of South Korea. She's joined by countrywomen Amy Yang and In-Kyung Kim, China's Xiyu Lin, American Annie Park and Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn.
World No. 1 Jin Young Ko of South Korea, already a two-time winner this year including the season's first major, had no birdies and five bogeys en route to a 5-over 77. Second-ranked Lexi Thompson shot even-par 72 and is tied for 17th. Canadian Brooke Henderson, last week's winner, carded a 4-over 76 and is tied for 82nd.
Michelle Wie, fighting a nagging hand injury and returning to competitive action for the first time in two months, broke down in tears speaking to The Golf Channel after shooting a 12-over 84.
"It's hard. It's just one of those situations where I'm not, you know, I'm not entirely sure how much more I have left in me, so even on the bad day, I'm just like trying to take time to enjoy it. But it's tough," said Wie, a five-time LPGA winner who turns 30 this October.
"It was kind of a little foolish to think that I would shoot really well, just hitting golf balls last week, at Hazeltine. It's a tough golf course, but I'm really, really happy that I played. Just feeling a lot of joy just being out there, and, you know, competing again. It's going to take time, and I've just got to be patient, and thankfully I have all afternoon to get warm again and take care of my wrist."