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While he was working on his new swing, Green's earnings fell from $73,000 at the end of his rookie year to $44,000 in 1972. In the meantime it was his excellent chipping and his peculiar putting stroke that kept him from dropping out of sight altogether.
"I wanted to change my putting, too," he says, "but I had to take things one at a time. I needed something familiar to fall back on when things got real bad, when I had a four- or a five-footer for a bogey. 'Cause I had an awful lot of four- and five-footers for bogeys in those days."
In the fall of 1972 Green married a sunny Southern Californian, Judi Rowlands, and as a new orderliness entered his life he bore down on his game. "Two mouths to feed and all that garbage," he explains. Judi undertook the letter writing, reservation making and the exotic housekeeping that living from the trunk of a rented car requires. She walked the course with her husband every day and listened sympathetically in the evenings. To this day her fiercest recorded remonstrance is, "Oh, Hu-bert!"
"She's a breath of fresh air," he says.
With a new swing and a new life-style Hubert began 1973 slowly, but about Masters time he began to hit his stride. While waiting for delivery of a new set of clubs he borrowed a graphite-shafted driver from Gay Brewer and discovered that it gave him an extra 10 yards or so and, with that, came the confidence he needed. He finished a respectable 14th at Augusta and two weeks later shot four rounds under par to win the Tallahassee Open. After seven finishes in the top 10 through the summer months he won again at the B.C. Open in September and wound up the year with $114,000. "Not bad for a skinny kid," he thought.
But apparently not good enough. Every few years, in the lull between the end of one golf season and the beginning of the next, sportswriters in search of a trend rediscover a species of golfer called the young lion. A young lion is any David in double knits who looks as though he might eventually knock off a Goliath or. two. This year's list includes everyone from a 26-year-old U.S. Open winner who has had four years on the pro tour to a babe in the rough of 21. A young lion is usually identified at 250 yards by the way his shining yellow hair bounces to the rhythm of his stride.
Poor Hubert. Missed again. Four months over the hill at 27, with dark curly hair that sticks obstinately close to his head. No media dogging his steps. No galleries to speak of. Just all those wins and that nice spot on the money list.
"I don't know what I did wrong," says Green. "I keep readin' about all those young lions and they're all the same guys I played junior golf with. Maybe it's because I have one gray hair."
By the end of this February, though, with the Bob Hope win behind him, Green was his ebullient self again. "Winning the Hope solved a lot of my problems," he says. "Even if no one else knew about it, I enjoyed the hell out of it. It was fun! I went home the next week and didn't play much golf 'cause everybody was tellin' me how good I was and I was sayin', 'Hey, tell me some more. And maybe a little louder next time.' "
For all his "country music," Hubert Green is a fairly serious fellow. "I feel like I'm an entertainer of sorts," he says. "People pay money to see me play or to play with me in a pro-am, and when they do I'm there to make them have a good time if I possibly can. I agree with Lee Trevino and Chi Chi that the crowd deserves somethin' better than a smoke look and a get-out-of-my-way attitude."