The Norman Conquest
It’s only Friday and the second round of the British Open (otherwise known as “The Open”) is not even finished but the second round leader is none other than the “Great White Shark”; Greg Norman.
Norman has shot two, even par rounds of 70 in atrocious conditions. Pretty good for a 53 year old, part time golfer. Could this be the ‘golf gods’ way of paying back Norman for a career filled with heartbreaking losses? Only time will tell.
In the world before Tiger, Norman reigned supreme and was for the 10 years before Tiger’s ascendancy, the face of professional golf.
Norman was a superb player and won 86 tournaments around the world. He was also sometimes tragic in the way that he managed to lose tournaments. Bob Tway’s holed-out bunker shot at the 1986 (that was the year that Norman led every Major after three rounds but only managed to win the British), Larry Mize’s chip-in at the 1997 Masters in a playoff, and Norman’s collapse to lose to Nick Faldo, after leading the 1996 Masters by 6 shots on the final day.
There are those who would say that Norman was the unluckiest player of all time, while others would say that he was the author of his own disasters. As an example, he led the 1986 PGA Championship (Tway’s chip-in) by 5 shots with six holes to play, so those people would say that he lost the tournament rather than Tway winning it.
Greg Norman always handled his defeats with grace and honesty. His movie star looks and ‘stiff upper lip” drew people to him and even people who were not fans of his, felt his anguish. There was always a sadness to his greatness. Kind of like watching a Greek tragedy, unfold.
At 53, Norman has found the happiness that may have eluded him until now. Last month he married, all time tennis great, Chris Evert. Norman has never seemed more content and comfortable (two things that he never appeared to be in his heyday).
Norman admits to playing more tennis than golf these days and is by all account becoming a very proficient tennis player.
This weekend, though, The Great White Shark has taken golf’s biggest stage by storm. It is as if the hands of time have been turned back 20 years.
It would perhaps be the most unlikely victory at a Major Championship, in history. Older bones don’t handle these type of weather conditions very well. It has been 9 years since he was in serious contention at a Major event. Will his swing hold up? Will his nerves stay the course? The next two days will tell that story.
Perhaps the most important story though, has already been written. Greg Norman, for all his fame and fortune, has finally found the joy that he has been looking for, all of his Life.