Breast cancer survivor Maggie Collins is in the pink

Maggie-Collins_600x450 She had less hair than Roger Clemens, but more balls. "A dozen balls to start with, and I got down to one!" says Maggie Collins, who played last year's World Amateur in scattershot fashion, racing to Myrtle Beach from her oncologist's office in Greensboro, N.C. Collins was in the midst of a grueling round of breast-cancer treatments at the time: surgery, chemo, (legal) steroids, radiation. Her doctor gave her a week's reprieve to play in one more World Am, her seventh.

"I didn't play well. Couldn't hit it very far," she recalls. "Just far enough to get in trouble."

Collins, 60, played hatless and hairless, her chemo-bald head "as pink as a baby's butt," calling attention to her plight. She told anyone who'd listen that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, but diagnosis can be the beginning of a round that ends well.

"I actually loved having no hair. When it rained, I had a good hair day."

The 18-handicapper was so relentlessly upbeat that pretty soon she had fans, including co-workers back in Greensboro, where she works as a nurse. A few shaved their heads to look more like Maggie. By January 2010 she'd gotten more than 1,000 get-well cards. So she threw a party to thank family and friends. More than 300 showed up. It sounded more like 3,000 cheering when the hostess danced the South Carolina Shag with her oncologist.

Now she's back for her eighth World Am, decked out all in pink, with pink nails and a full head of hair.

"Got a clean bill of health so far, and I'm getting my strength back. Driving it 170 again instead of 120—far enough to get in even more trouble."

After disappointing rounds of 97 and 98, she shot 91 on Wednesday. Calling the day "better than hardcore 24/7 nausea," Collins says she won't be in contention but won't leave town empty-handed, either.

"I won a dozen balls today. Hit one good at the ninth hole and won the long-drive prize." — Kevin Cook

(Photo by Erick W. Rasco/SI)

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by Kevin Cunningham