Originally created 06/30/03

Green finishes with golf, moves on to battle with cancer



TOLEDO, Ohio -- Playing in Sunday's final round of the U.S. Senior Open, Hubert Green said he never gave a second thought to what was ahead for him.

"Tomorrow's a day to worry about other things," he said after completing a 75 that left him at 11-over 295 for the tournament at Inverness Club.

Green begins treatment for cancer of the tongue and throat Monday at Shands HealthCare, affiliated with the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. The regimen of radiation and chemotherapy is expected to last a month and a half.

"I'm a golfer. I hope I'm a cancer survivor in six weeks," he said under the wide brim of the large, black hat that has become his trademark.

As he played, Green was greeted with shouts of encouragement from the large gallery that followed his every move. He said he's received mail and calls from dozens of people who have gone through what he soon will.

"I've heard from a lot of people who are survivors, wishing me well," he said. "And I really appreciate that."

He remains hopeful that he will return to the course in August. He referred to his oncologists as "the Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus of doctoring."

He describes the entire process in golfing terms, as a matter of fact.

"Tuesday's a practice round," he said. "Tuesday's the first day of radiation. I'm not sure about when the chemo starts. I'm not in charge. I'm just a golfer. I've got the best pros on my side. I'll do the best job I can to give them the best yardage. I just hope they don't three-putt."

Green, 56, has won four times on the Champions Tour and has 19 titles on the regular PGA Tour. He counts two majors among his victories, the 1977 U.S. Open at Southern Hills and the 1985 PGA Championship at Cherry Hills.

"Hubert has always been known for his tenacity and toughness on the golf course, and we are sure that he will battle this illness with the same courage," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said at the time Green announced that cancer had been detected.

Green has borne up well under the pressure.

"There's nothing I can do about the cancer I have," he said. "It's the hand I was dealt. I can only go and try to get it cured. It's something I can't worry about."

His family, back in Panama City, Fla., has been behind him all the way.

"I'd rather be fishing with my kids this week," he said softly.

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JACK'S COMEBACK: Jack Nicklaus is 63 years old and a slow learner.

"It only took me 63 holes to learn how to play this blasted game," he said with a chuckle.

Nicklaus followed rounds of 77, 73 and 74 with a solid 2-under 69 in Sunday's final round of the U.S. Senior Open. He said he would have played better this week if he had mastered the grueling stretch of holes starting with No. 3 and ending with No. 6.

"I can't fight this golf course," said the winner of two Senior Opens and 18 major championships while on the PGA Tour. "You know you're always over par when you get down with that stretch. I was 3 over today through No. 5. Then I played well after that."

Nicklaus was 17 when he played in the U.S. Open for the first time in 1957 at Inverness Club. He shot a pair of 80s and missed the cut.

He was asked if he was nostalgic playing what could be his final competitive round on the course.

"I thought my last competitive round here might be Friday the way I was playing," he said with a laugh. "I started out missing the cut and (almost) ended up missing the cut 46 years later."

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DIVOTS: Tom Watson fell short of becoming the eighth person to win both a U.S. Open and a U.S. Senior Open. The others are Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Gary Player, Orville Moody, Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus. ... "New" 50-year-olds eligible for the 2004 Senior Open at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis on July 29-Aug. 1 are Keith Fergus, Peter Jacobsen, John Adams, Ron Streck and Mike Reid. ... The Senior Open returns to Ohio in 2005 at NCR Country Club in suburban Dayton. ... In 24 Senior Opens, the third-round leader hung on to win 16 times.