For the second time in eight months, Hubert Green faces a more daunting challenge off the golf course than anything he ever encountered on it.
Following an abbreviated return to the Champions Tour in January, Green – who was diagnosed with cancer of the tonsils and tongue last May and began six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy a month later – is home in Panama City Beach, Fla., undergoing daily treatments to combat soft tissue necrosis.
A biopsy earlier this year revealed Green was suffering from soft tissue necrosis, a condition caused by intense radiation therapy. For two hours each day Green is submerged in a chamber which is pressurized 11/2 to three times normal atmospheric pressure. The pure oxygen Green breaths while in the chamber helps speed the healing process.
“I’ll be glad when I quit having pain,” Green said.
Green, 57, began the hyperbaric treatments shortly after finishing 37th at the season-opening MasterCard Championship in Hawaii.
“The doctors told me to go out and give it a try,” Green said. “They said (returning to competition) would help.”
Although Green said the chemotherapy treatments have sapped his energy and made talking difficult, his sense of humor remains unaffected.
“I am waiting for my invitation to the Masters . . . must be in the mail,” said Green, who hasn’t played in the Masters since 1990. “I’m too weak (to play golf). I can’t play the LPGA Tour I’m so weak.”
At the MasterCard most players who spoke with Green said the two-time major champion (’77 U.S. Open, ’85 PGA Championship) had lost a considerable amount of weight but was otherwise confident and glad to be back on the golf course.
“Don’t you sympathize with Hubert,” said MasterCard champion Fuzzy Zoeller. “He’s a bulldog . . . he’ll be just fine.”
Gary Player, who was paired with Green at Hualalai Golf Club, was inspired by his partner’s play in Round 1.
“To come out and shoot 71 was phenomenal,” Player said. “I told him after the round, ‘You are my bionic man.’”
Green said he expects to miss the next three weeks and plans to return in time for the Blue Angels Classic April 16-18 in nearby Milton, Fla.
“I’m not worried about golf right now,” Green said. “It’s always been just a game.”