Rub of the Green

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Pizza delivery guys. Farm boys. Golden Glove boxers. Salesmen. Raconteurs.
 
Et cetera. Et alia.
 
You name it.
 
They come from all walks of life on the PGA Tour.
 
But Aussie rookie Nathan Green is quite probably the first member of golfs most elite fraternity who used to work in a crematorium.
 
And, please, no jokes here about ashes or remains. Poor taste is its own punishment.
 
But, yes, 30-year-old Nathan Green, entered Sundays final round at the Buick Invitational just one shot behind 54-hole co-leaders Sergio Garcia and Rod Pampling.
 
So naturally someone had to ask him late Saturday about the job he used to hold at a crematorium managed by his parents in Valentine, Australia.
 
It was pretty much a family business, he said. ..I was out there mowing lawns and gardening. I wasnt lighting matches. I was just doing all of the bits.
 
No undertaker jokes either, please.
 
Torrey Pines was just the second time Green, who got his Tour card by finishing 18th on the Nationwide Tour money list last year, teed it up in a PGA Tour event. He finished fifth in his Tour debut two weeks ago at The Sony Open in Hawaii.
 
And through nine holes at the Buick Sunday he was tied for the lead with Jose Maria Olazabal. Heady stuff. Green bogeyed the first, birdied the ninth and strung seven straight pars in between.
 
It was odd Sunday for more than one reason. At one point Henrik Bjornstad of Norway led the golf tournament and threatened to become the second Henrik to win on a major professional golf tour in one day. Earlier at Qatar, Henrik Stenson of Sweden captured the Euro event.
 
Hot topic never discussed: Whos the best Henrik in the world of golf? Answer not needed: The long-hitting Stenson who now appears to be a shoo-in for the European Ryder Cup side in September in Ireland.
 
Meanwhile, Green didnt turn professional until five years ago. And, he said, he was overcoached at one point in his career.
 
Went through everything you can sort of think of, he said. I probably was looking in the wrong place for it. I was trying to have the perfect swing.
 
Soon enough at Torrey Pines Green was leading the golf tournament by himself when his wedge from 77 yards on the par 5 13th spun into the hole for an eagle. Then he was birdieing the par 5 18th to elbow his way into a playoff with Jose Maria Olazabal and Tiger Woods, two men who own six Masters green jackets between them.
 
Then he was making a mess of the first playoff hole. Still it was enough to win him almost $500,000 and virtually assure he will keep his PGA Tour card for 2007.
 
Nathan Green is a professional golfer now. And it is what he will be known for now. The only matches he will be lighting any time soon will be for the victory cigar when he wins his first Tour event. The way hes playing at the moment, the wait might not be that long.
 
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