Amateur golfers swing for Masters in Aurora |

Amateur golfers swing for Masters in Aurora

Pat Graham
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

AURORA, Colorado ” Danny Green squats way down when he putts, doesn’t drive the ball particularly far and isn’t in the best of shape.

Still, the 51-year-old from Jackson, Tenn., finds a way to keep up with the kids.

He’s playing in his 14th U.S. Amateur Public Links Championships this week at Murphy Creek Golf Course and is nearly 28 years older than the average age of his competitors.

“I don’t look like the typical golfer,” said Green, as he reclined in a chair, waiting for his tee time Monday.

That is, until he steps onto the course. Green made it to the final match-play pairing in 2001, falling to Chez Reavie in 38 holes at Pecan Valley Golf Course in San Antonio, Texas.

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He also holds the APL Championship stroke play record after shooting a two-day total of 131 in 2004 at Rush Creek Golf Course in Maple Grove, Minn.

These days, Green doesn’t pick up the clubs as much. But when he does, he’s pretty tough to beat. He’s in the 156-player field this week to prepare for the U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor at the end of the month.

However, in between this tournament and the Senior Open, he’s heading to Vegas for a little relaxation.

“I don’t really have any (expectations) here,” said Green, who earned a spot in the championship after tying for low amateur at last year’s Senior Open in Kohler, Wisc. “In years past, I go into an event thinking I can win. This is a long week. It will be tough on me.”

So, who does he like?

“Rickie Fowler ” he’s a good player,” Green said.

That seems to be the favorite on everyone’s list. Fowler tied for 60th during the ’08 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. The Oklahoma State soon-to-be sophomore also tied for fourth at the NCAA championships in May.

“I like his pick,” Fowler said with a grin after a 4-under round Monday. “I’m playing pretty well. Danny is my boy. He’s a good guy. He gets it done. It doesn’t matter how he’s hitting it, he finds a way to get it in the hole.”

Green has never taken a golf lesson, his swing self taught. It’s a little unorthodox, with his knees slightly bent, but very effective. He’s typically straight down the fairway.

“I always thought I swung like everybody else,” he said. “When I saw myself on camera for the first time, I realized I didn’t.

“I’m not long (off the tee) like the kids. I’m giving up a lot of yardage. I have to play a little different. I won’t make as many birdies, I just have to try not to make as many mistakes as the kids.”

On the line for the winner of the APL Championships is a berth in next year’s Masters field, provided they retain their amateur status.

Green has played at Augusta National twice, including an appearance in 2000 when he was paired with eventual winner Vijay Singh, as well as with Ray Floyd. Green missed the cut that year by a stroke.

However, he wants no part of Augusta these days, not after a practice round before this year’s tournament that was won by Trevor Immelman, a ’98 APL champion.

“It’s too long,” Green said of Augusta. “I’d embarrass myself. I played pretty good that day and still shot an 82.”

Green’s biggest beef with golf these days is the ball, which he said has spoiled the game.

“It goes too far and too straight,” Green said. “My game would be suited more if they took the golf ball standard back 15-to-20 years to where it was a wound ball. … The golf ball goes too far. So many great golf courses in the U.S., they’re outdated now. They can’t use (them) anymore for championships, just because of the golf ball.”

But that’s all the pining for the past Green will do. He’s focused on staying cool in the intense heat.

He’s not a fan of hot weather ever since he collapsed on a course nine years ago in Nashville, Tenn., due to dehydration, and had to be taken away in an ambulance. Green was having a good round that day, too, starting off with three birdies.

Last summer, the same thing happened, only this time the dehydration led to some kidney failure.

Now, he drinks about a bottle of water on every hole, and avoids the heat as much as possible.

“I’m getting old,” he said with a grin.

But not too old to stay on course with the kids.

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