Greg Norman is Now a Very Sad Figure, Indeed
Greg Norman is an immense golfing talent. Of that, there can be no question. Though I’ve never been a fan of his, I believe he’s always gotten worse treatment than he deserved for choking away Major tournament victories. Some of the time when he lost on the 72nd hole or in sudden death, it was from a lightning bolt of a shot. The most famous of these daggers to Norman’s heart was the Larry Mize chip-in on the second playoff hole at the 1987 Masters (the 11th at Augusta) that likely would have rolled in the lake had it not hit the pin. Then there was the holed bunker shot from Bob Tway that definitely was headed off the green on the 72nd hole of the 1986 PGA Championship. In both cases Norman was on the green in regulation but not close with even what you’d call a decent chance of a tying birdie. At a minimum, most reasonable people would allow that he was a victim of robbery on these two occasions.
Of course there were many other golden opportunities that slipped through his hands. Always the best overall driver of the golf ball I have ever seen, his play was typically very good. Critics tend to forget how very well he routinely played just to always be around the lead. The final and by far most damaging of these other close losses was the head-to-head duel with Nick Faldo in the 1996 Masters despite starting the day with a six shot lead, only to shoot a horrendous 78 to Faldo’s masterpiece of 67 and finish in second by five. Norman’s Achilles heel in tense situations has always been the block to the right. He did it on the 72nd hole of the 1986 Masters to become a supporting player in Jack Nicklaus’ famous win at age 46. And if you were watching the Senior PGA Championship last week, he did it again on the last two holes for a bogey and double bogey when two pars would have at worst put him in a playoff. To be fair, those holes were playing the toughest on the course and a pair of pars would have been terrific play - but that’s what champions are required to do.
What struck me as sad though, was Norman’s post round reaction to the interviewer’s inquiry about his future plans including perhaps more tournament appearances in light of this top flight performance. Virtually everybody who plays championship golf would be encouraged to have been so competitive despite the lack of tournament play. But Greg Norman has never been just anybody. I’m paraphrasing here but he responded that, if anything, he was more DIScouraged by the close loss and might be even less inclined to play any more at all. He alluded to his not being able to emotionally bear any more close losses.
This provides us with confirmation from the horse’s mouth that Norman has been deeply scarred psychologically from all of the losses. Oh, he’s always put on a brave face and tried to say the right things to the press like “this is just a game” or “my life is already full” or “I don’t need a Masters win to feel complete". But we always knew it hurt the best player in the game really, really bad.
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Norman was interviewed by Dottie Pepper after Sunday's round, not Roger Maltbie. Did you even see it?
(It was Dottie on Sunday, though) :)