Hot finish nets Green World Championship crown; Saso rallies to 17th

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Hot finish nets Green World Championship crown; Saso rallies to 17th
Hannah Green of Australia lines up a shot during round three of the HSBC Women's World Championship golf tournament at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore on March 2, 2024.
Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP

MANILA, Philippines -- Hannah Green delivered an electrifying performance on the greens, birdieing the last three holes and clinching the Women’s World Championship crown by one over Celine Boutier at Sentosa’s Tanjong course in Singapore Sunday.

With a spectacular display of skill, the Australian birdied the last three holes, including a long, curling putt on the 72nd hole, with the stunning finish enabling her to edge out Boutier for the hotly disputed championship on a closing 67.

Amid the celebratory dousing with water from supporters on the 18th green, Green, somewhat overwhelmed, muttered: “It’s crazy.” Her final putt from around 20 feet swerved to the right at the last moment, dropping into the cup, spiking her five-under par round and a 72-hole total of 13-under 275.

Meanwhile, at the nearby putting green, Boutier, initially leading with her own version of a solid 67 and a 276, was preparing for a potential sudden death playoff. But a loud roar from the clubhouse area signaled Green’s triumph, prompting Boutier to cut short her preparations.

The final round was a rollercoaster of twists and turns. Green, trailing Ayaka Furue by two strokes after 54 holes, caught up with the Japanese with birdies on Nos. 5 and 9. But as preferred conditions favored majority of the contenders, Furue failed to capitalize on birdie opportunities.

At one point, the leaderboard was crowded with four players, including Furue, Green, Boutier and Andrea Lee, all at 10-under.

Green faced a setback with a bogey on the 10th, while Boutier surged ahead with three birdies in the first six holes at the back. However, Boutier missed crucial birdie chances in the last three holes, allowing Green to make a comeback with a birdie on the 12th and subsequent birdies on Nos. 16 and 17, drawing her level with the Frenchwoman at 12-under.

The climax unfolded on the last hole where a superb approach shot set up a birdie chance for Green. The victory served as redemption for the Australian, who had led in the final round here but narrowly lost the title to Korean Hyo Joo Kim in 2021.

For Boutier, the defeat was a bitter disappointment, especially since a potential victory would have made her the first Frenchwoman to claim the World No. 1 ranking.

Furue, who seemed poised for success with an impressive performance in the first three rounds, experienced a heart-breaking turn of events. Despite maintaining control with a string of pars in the first 13 holes, she fell two strokes behind Boutier after the latter birdied No. 15.

The Japanese finally hit the elusive birdie on the 14th to pull within one but stumbled on the last two par-3s, which she both bogeyed, and closed out with a double-bogey on the 18th.

Furue finished with a 75, dropping her to joint eighth at 281, while compatriot Yuna Nishimura fought back with a 66, tying Korean Mi Hyang Lee and Canada’s Brooke Henderson, who carded 68 and 69, respectively, for third at 289.

Yuka Saso, meanwhile, put on a late surge with a bogey-free 66, propelling her to a joint 17th finish at 283 from a previous spot at tied 33rd. But ICTSI stablemate Bianca Pagdanganan faltered with a 75, ending up tied for 41st at 291.

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