OBITUARIES
1977 U.S. Open Champion Hubert Green Dies at 71 June 20, 2018 | Liberty Corner, N.J. By David Shefter, USGA

Hubert Green, seen here with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Players' Dinner, died on June 19.

Hubert Green, who overcame a death threat to win the 1977 U.S. Open, died on June 19 at the age of 71 after a lengthy battle with throat cancer.

Green, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007, amassed 29 professional victories, including the aforementioned U.S. Open at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., and the 1985 PGA Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club in suburban Denver.

“Hubert Green was an incredible competitor whose tenacity on the course defined his playing career,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “His 1977 U.S. Open win under extreme circumstances was the definition of grit and perseverance – the true mark of a champion. We are saddened to lose him among an elite group within our U.S. Open circle. We extend our deepest condolences to his family as we celebrate his incredible accomplishments today.”

Green needed plenty of mental fortitude to capture his first major championship. As he approached the 15th tee in the final round of the 1977 U.S. Open, police pulled him aside to inform him that an anonymous caller had phoned in a death threat. A woman said that Green would be shot before he reached the 15th green.

His caddie, Shayne Grier, knew something was awry when Green snap-hooked his tee shot.

Grier later said, “He handed me the club and said, ‘Stay away from me and meet me at the ball.’”

For someone who had joked and chatted with his caddie the entire round, the order seemed out of character.

Although play was not halted and spectators remained, police escorted Green the rest of the round. Green managed to hit an 8-iron recovery from the rough to the green and make par. He would go on to win the championship by one stroke over 1975 U.S. Open winner Lou Graham by holing a 4-footer for par on the 72nd hole.

Later in the locker room, Green and his caddie had a private chat about the incident.

“Hubert looked me straight in the eye and said: ‘Shayne, don’t talk about this. It’s not good for golf. We don’t want other kooks coming out and doing it,’” recalled Grier. “It showed what Hubert is made of.”

For years, Green made little reference to the incident.

He finally broke his silence nearly 30 years later in an interview with Golf Digest as well as in his Hall of Fame induction speech.

Remembering 1977 U.S. Open Champion Hubert Green

“At the time, I chose not to talk about it much,” said Green many years later. “And on the course, I figured I was already nervous enough, that I couldn't get much more nervous.”

Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Green attended Shades Valley High School before moving on to Florida State University. While in college, he won the 1966 Southern Amateur on his home course, the Country Club of Birmingham. A year later, he claimed the Alabama Amateur title. His fourth-place finish in the 1968 U.S. Amateur at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, earned Green an invitation to the 1969 Masters. That year, he also enlisted in the Alabama National Guard, but when he won the Southern Amateur for a second time in 1969, he started contemplating a professional golf career.

The decision to turn professional proved prudent as he claimed his first professional win in the 1971 Houston Champions International in a playoff over Don January. The last of his victories came in the 1985 PGA Championship, in which he edged two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Trevino by two strokes.

He joined the Champions Tour in 1997 and posted four victories. He was twice named the Champions Tour’s comeback player of the year (2002 and 2004).

“The Hall of Fame was a nice touch,” said Green of his 2007 induction. “A final cap to a pretty good career. I never judged my career against others. I was just playing golf.”

At the 2005 Masters, Green received the Ben Hogan Award from the Golf Writers Association of America for his commitment to the game despite a serious illness. He had been diagnosed with throat cancer two years earlier during a routine visit to the dentist. By the end of 2003, the cancer was in remission thanks to a painful regimen of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

“I know what I remember him for,” said two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the same class as Green. “Tenacity, overachiever in a very, very positive way, and quite frankly, winning the [U.S.] Open under difficult circumstances on Sunday afternoon. I don't think there are many people that could have done that.”

Green is survived by his wife Becky Blair, of Birmingham; 3 sons, Hubert Myatt Green, Jr. (Liz) of Hurricane, Utah; Patrick Myatt Green; and James Thomas Green (Adrienne) of Panama City, Florida; sisters Melinda Green Powers (J. William), and Carolyn Green Satterfield (William H.), and brother Maurice O. V. Green (Annette), all of Birmingham. He is also survived by grandchildren, Shelby Green, Hubert Myatt Green, III “Trey”, and Elizabeth Green, all of Allen, Texas; granddaughter Judi Lauren Green of Hurricane, Utah, and grandson Ethan Green of Panama City Beach, Florida; step-sons Richard O’Brien of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Atticus O’Brien, of Dallas, Texas.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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