Hubert Green was rewarded with a $45,000 check for winning the U.S. Open championship and that may be all the Open will give him financially.
He does, of course, gain several fringe benefits. He is exempt from qualifying for the Open for the next five years; he gets a five-year invitation to the Masters; he is exempt for 10 years from all PGA sponsored events; he qualifies for the World Series of Golf; he made the Ryder Cup and World Cup teams, and he qualified for the "house" tournament -- the Tournament Players Championship next April.
But what about that $1 million that the Open is said to be worth to the man who wins it?
Lou Graham, the 1975 champion who finished a stroke behind Green, knows what it's all about. Graham, used to parry questions about the post-Open financial rewards. When he was at Congressional last summer, Graham quipped: "I never did get that first million. Now I'm working on my second."
After Green's victory Sunday, Graham said: "Well, I never did get that second million so I'd better start working on my third." Graham did have some advice for Green.
"Your life won't be your own for the next few months," he warned. "The phone will ring all the time and you'll get requests for all kinds of appearances, most of them for free. There will be a few endorsements, but not as many as people think.
"Most of the golf equipment companies are pretty well tied up with their own pros. There are a few outside endorsements but, again, not as many as people think. Your life-style doesn't change by winning the Open. You still have to try to win the next tournament."
Johnny Miller, who won the Open in 1973, discounts the instant millionaire benefits. He has done very well with clothes endorsements because he's slim, with a 28-inch waist, and he has that All-American look.
"I got lucky," he says."The endorsements were just about dried up with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus always in demand. I happened to hit it right when there was a lull and I cashed in as a new face."
Then there's Jack Fleck, the unknown club pro who beat the great Ben Hogan for the 1955 Open title in San Francisco.That was the one Gene Sarazen, doing a TV commentary, prematurely awarded Hogan his fifth Open title.
Fleck is 55 now and without a job or a home. His wife died 18 months ago and he is a lonely, bitter man. He failed to make the cut here and received only the token $500 the USGA gives all pros who play 36 holes.
Hale Irwin, the 1974 champion, has to keep making a living on the circuit. Jerry Pate, the 1976 champion who failed to make the cut, said the Open was no cornucopia. He also got some endorsements but he said that million was "at least three years away."
However, Green will be remembered and so will the 1977 Open for the death threats he received. He was coming off the 14th green when informed by USGA officials that the FBI has relayed a call from Oklahoma City saying three men would be at Southern Hills and would shoot him on the 15th green.
It must have shaken him to be told of the death threat with four holes to go. It's tough enough in Open competition to hold your concentration.
Green proved his courage by refusing to crack. Maybe, as he observed wryly, winning the U.S. Open is worth any risk.