No golfer has captured the imagination of the Australian sporting public quite like the Great White Shark. From the very early 1980's to present day Norman has been, and remains, a symbol of golfing excellence in Australia. His aggressive golf game, and charismatic demeanour not only dominated the golf world for many years, but also made him one of world's most recognisable sports people.
He is also one of sports most tragic figures having been cruelly denied major tournament success perhaps more so than any other player in history. There have been playoff chip ins, bunker shots holed on the 72nd, classic duels with greats of the games, and of course the final round collapses. Through it all Norman has remained a crowd favourite and still one of the publics most popular players.
The Greg Norman of the new millenium is also an accomplished golf course designer with numerous courses already built in Australia, and several others globally. Ellerston, The Grand, The Glades, Brookwater and the National Golf Club's Moonah Course on the Mornington Peninsula are the pick of the Australian Greg Norman designed courses.
GREG NORMAN AT THE MAJORS
Greg Norman at The Masters
6 time Australian Masters champion, Greg Norman is one of Augusta National's favourites and his close calls over the years have become the stuff of legend. If squandering a 6 shot lead, as he did in 1996, isn't enough to give him nightmares, then having a virtual unknown chip in from an impossible spot on 11, as Larry Mize did in 1987, must give the Shark a few restless nights. For more than a decade Greg Norman made his way around the Augusta layout looking every bit the Champion only to be denied time and again by a combination of bad luck, bad play and fate. (right) - six gold jackets, but no green ones for the Shark
In 1986 the Shark led going into the last round and except for dropping a couple of shots on the back 9, should have slipped comfortably into his first Green Jacket. Enter a 46 year old Jack Nicklaus. His 30 around Augusta's treacherous back 9 sent the crowds into a frenzy as he stole centre stage for one final time. Norman still led playing the 18th but pushed his approach shot right and into the crowd, failing to get up and down and losing to Nicklaus by one shot. The lesson at Augusta that year would help Norman to dominate world golf and to lead all four majors after 3 rounds during 1986 including the British Open, his break through major victory.
Sitting alone and untouchable atop the World's golf ranking's Norman returned to Augusta in 1987 as the games most dominant player and on a mission to claim the cherished Green Jacket so cruelly denied the year before. After 72 holes Norman was tied with Seve Ballesteros and little known local Larry Mize. Seve took 5 on the first playoff hole leaving Norman and Mize to head to the 11th hole, Amen corner! Norman safely found the green, while Mize's second shot sailed way right of the green, advantage Norman. In the US PGA, the final major for 1986, Norman had watched Bob Tway hole his bunker shot on the 72nd hole to defeat Norman by one, surely not this time. Mize's shot not only had to negotiate 30 feet of fringe grass, but had to cover some 30 feet of one of the world's quickest greens with a water hazard lurking on the other side of the green. As the whole world watched Larry Mize played a shot that has become part of golf and Greg Norman folklore. The world saw Mize's pitch, the ball bouncing up the bank onto the green and disappearing into the hole, and the world saw his famous victory dance. Norman saw it as well, and we saw a broken man who was to be denied his Green Jacket yet again.
In 1988 Norman charged home with a 64 in the final round to finish 5th behind Sandy Lyle, and then the following year, 1989, destiny stepped in again. After only narrowly making the cut Norman stormed back into contention with a brilliant 68 in tough conditions on the Saturday and headed into Sunday still 4 shots behind leader Ben Crenshaw. Norman's final round failed to produce much excitement early but on the back nine the famous Norman charge started with birdies from 13 to 17 launching him into the lead. Playing his 72nd hole he needed just a par to tie Nick Faldo, who had finished, and Scott Hoch, still on the course. Norman laid up off the tee leaving a long iron into the green, which also pulled up short of the pin and rolled back down the bank in front of the 18th green. His chip shot was poor and a 15 foot par putt slid past the hole leaving Norman yet again one shot shy of victory at Augusta.
In 1996 Norman led by six shots after three rounds, after equalling the course record with a 63 in the first round. Norman's golf game collapsed in front of a huge International audience hoping for it to hold firm. Nick Faldo, so often Norman's nemesis, shot a rock solid 67 to turn a six shot deficit into a five shot winning margin. Norman and Faldo embraced on the final green in a touching and moving reminder that sport can destroy its own as quickly as it can shoot them to stardom.
With the golf world sceptical that Norman would ever recover from his experience in 1996, the Shark proved what stern stuff he is made of with a wonderful tournament in 1999, coming back from shoulder surgery to only be denied victory by another comeback kid Jose Maria Olazabal. The pair played the final round together and after a brilliant eagle on the 13th to gain a share of the lead for the first time, Norman watched as Olazabal holed a 20 foot putt to keep his advantage over Norman in tact. Olazabal is one of the games great competitors and played rock solid golf to deny the Australian, yet again, Augusta glory. Having suffered a crippling foot injury only 18 months earlier, victory for the Spaniard was sweet indeed, soured only by the fact it was Norman again who had to suffer Masters defeat.
Greg Norman has become a symbol of Augusta's brutality over the years. From his super impressive 4th placing in his first Masters in 1981, to the tragedy of another near miss in 1999 Norman has been at the forefront of modern golf's memories of Augusta.
Greg Norman at The US Open.
It all started at the US Open for Greg Norman in 1984 when he tied Fuzzy Zoeller after 72 holes at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York. Norman made a miraculous par putt on the 72nd hole which sent the crowd into a frenzy, and which Zoeller, playing behind Norman had interpreted as a birdie putt by the commotion. Then came the famous waving the white flag incident with Fuzzy pulling out a handkerchief and waving it at Norman. Unfortunately for the Shark the gesture proved an unfortunate omen as Zoeller won the 18 hole playoff the next day.
In 1986 Norman led all four majors after three rounds, going on to win the British Open, but faltering in the other three. This year it was Raymond Floyd, who became the oldest winner of the event winning with Norman shooting a disappointing final round 78 to finish well behind the winner.
1990 was another year of missed opportunities for the Shark after he let a great chance to win the Open at Medinah Country Club slip away with some poor play over the final holes. His playing partner for the final round was Hale Irwin and they both started three shots back of leader Mike Donald. Irwin and Norman both picked up shots on Donald over the first 13 holes and were tied together a shot behind Donald. Approaching the Par 5 14th hole, Norman choose to lay up despite having an opportunity to hit the green in two shots. His lay up was a poor shot and ended in the rough which led to an eventual bogey on the hole to Irwin's birdie which proved the eventual difference between the two players.
In 1995 Norman was paired in the final round with pint sized Corey Pavin in the final group. The two players cleared away from the field with Pavin keeping his nose in front for most of the round. At the Par 3 17th Norman had an opportunity to peg back a shot after Pavin had found sand, but Norman also bunkered his tee shot, made a bogey and ended up losing by two shots.
Greg Norman at The British Open.
Perhaps the tournament that can most accurately surmise the career of Greg Norman is the British Open. Norman has two famous victories in the world's oldest professional event, as well as numerous other close calls, near misses and tragedies.
Bursting onto the World scene in the early 80's it was Norman's stellar year of 1986 that truly defined him as the leading player of the era. In the British Open that year he fired a second round 63 in the wind at Turnberry to establish a large break over the field. Despite Tommy Nakagima and Gordon Brand getting close at various stages over the weekend, Norman ended up winning comfortably by 5 shots. His victory walk down the 72nd hole remains one of golf's most memorable scenes.
Three years later, in 1989, the Shark let fellow Aussie Wayne Grady steal the limelight for three rounds before making one of his famous final round charges, shooting a 64 around Royal Troon to tie Grady and Mark Calcavecchia after 4 rounds. So good was his final round, that he received one of the longest and loudest standing ovations ever seen as he walked up the 18th fairway. The round started with 6 straight birdies and should have stood in the history books as one of the greatest ever winning rounds in major golf. Fate, however, had other ideas. In the 4 hole playoff Norman continued his brilliance, with birdies on the first two holes, before a bogey on the Par 3 17th (3rd playoff hole) left him 1 under and equal with Calcavecchia.
As Norman stood on the 18th tee with adrenelin pumping through his body, he was unfortunate enough to hit one of the most solid tee shots of his great career. Opting for a three wood to avoid trouble, Norman blasted the ball 280 metres and into the face of one of Troon's famous pot bunkers, the very bunkers his three wood was supposed to lay up short of. Calcavecchia was wild off the tee but produced an exceptional approach shot into the green setting up a certain birdie and denying Norman of a most famous victory. All he could do from the bunker was blast it out and up the fairway still leaving a full pitch into the green. It was one of the modern game's most heart breaking playoffs.
The very next year, 1990 was the first great shootout between the world's most dominant players at the time, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman. This year it was Faldo who would come out on top after a disastrous third round from the Shark. After opening with two 66's the golf world was abuzz as Faldo, who opened with a 67 and 65, and Norman would be paired together Saturday in what would surely be a great tussle between the world's most elite golfers. Things went horribly wrong for Norman as he slipped 9 shots behind Faldo after shooting a 76 to Faldo's clinical 67. The Englishman went on to win the event by five shots, with Norman finishing in 6th place.
Faldo would go onto win the 1992 British Open and stand atop the leaderboard yet again after 54 holes of the 1993 British Open at Royal St. George's. He led his great rival Greg Norman by one shot with some of the greats of the game within striking distance. Faldo, Langer, Price, Els, Couples and Stewart all challenged but it was Norman who won after firing a superb final round 64, winning by two shots over Faldo and three over Langer. This final round 64 will be remembered as perhaps Norman's best ever round in the Major's as his brilliant and clinical display of ball striking totally destroyed the rest of the star studded field.
Greg Norman at The US PGA Championship.
Another of the Major Trophies that should be sitting proudly on the Greg Norman trophy shelf is the United States PGA Championship. His most remembered near miss in this event was back in 1986 when the Shark had little known American Bob Tway hole a bunker shot on the 72nd hole to beat him by one shot. Norman, in fact, led Tway by four shots going into the final round and stumbled badly over the closing 9 holes, but the image of Tway jumping from the sand as his ball disappears into the hole will always conjure up feelings for the man yet again denied by fate.
His time to exercise the demons of the American majors seemed to be the 1993 US PGA Championships when another brilliant finish from the Shark had him tie Paul Azinger atop the leaderboard after 72 holes. Norman's putt at the 72nd ran heartbreakingly close to the edge of the hole as he struck what appeared the perfect 20 foot right to left breaking putt. In the playoff with Azinger, Norman had an identical putt and again hit what looked like the perfect putt only to lip out again on the high side of the hole. On the next hole a three putt from Norman handed Azinger his first Major victory and the world another Greg Norman tale of woe.
Greg Norman has been a victim of golf's cruelest tricks over the years. For all the bad bounces, holed shots, chip ins, missed putts, stumbles and dazzling charges we will remember the man Greg Norman and all of his humility. We will remember Greg Norman, the golfer, as the most exciting player of the modern game, and as the two time British Open champion.
Greg Norman - The Career.
Birthday: February 10, 1955
Birthplace: Queensland, Australia
Residence: Hobe Sound, Florida
Family: Wife, Laura; Morgan-Leigh (1982), Gregory (1985)
Turned pro: 1976
US PGA Tour victories: (18) 1984 Kemper Open, 1984 Canadian Open, 1986 Panasonic Las Vegas Invitational, 1986 Kemper Open, 1988 MCI Heritage Classic, 1989 The International, 1989 Greater Milwaukee Open, 1990 Doral-Ryder Open, 1990 Memorial Tournament, 1992 Canadian Open, 1993 Doral-Ryder Open, 1994 Players Championship, 1995 Memorial Tournament, 1995 Canon Greater Hartford Open, 1995 NEC World Series of Golf, 1996 Doral-Ryder Open, 1997 FedEx St. Jude Classic, 1997 NEC World Series of Golf.
Other victories: (58) 1976 Westlakes Classic, 1977 Martini International, 1977 Kuzhuz International, 1978 New South Wales Open, 1978 Traralgon Classic, 1978 Caltex Festival of Sydney Open, 1978 South Seas Classic, 1979 Traralgon Classic, 1979 Martini International, 1979 Hong Kong Open, 1980 Australian Open, 1980 French Open, 1980 Scandinavian Masters, 1980 Suntory World Match Play championship, 1981 Australian Masters, 1981 Martini International, 1981 Dunlop Masters, 1982 Dunlop Masters, 1982 State Express Classic, 1982 Benson and Hedges International, 1983 Australian Masters, 1983 Stefan Queensland Open, 1983 National Panasonic New South Wales Open, 1983 Hong Kong Open, 1983 Cannes International, 1983 Suntory World Match Play Championship, 1984 Victorian Open, 1984 Australian Masters, 1984 Toshiba Australian PGA Championship, 1985 Toshiba Australian PGA Championship, 1985 National Panasonic Australian Open, 1986 Stefan Queensland Open, 1986 National Panasonic New South Wales Open, 1986 West End Jubilee South Australian Open, 1986 National Panasonic Western Australian Open, 1986 European Open, 1986 British Open, 1986 Suntory World Match Play Championship, 1987 Australian Masters, 1987 National Panasonic Australian Open, 1988 Palm Meadows Cup, 1988 ESP Open, 1988 PGA National Tournament Players Championship, 1988 Panasonic New South Wales Open, 1988 Lancia Italian open, 1989 Australian Masters, 1989 PGA National Tournament Players Championship, 1989 Chunichi Crowns, 1990 Australian Masters, 1993 British Open, 1993 Taiheiyo Masters, 1994 Johnnie Walker Asian Classic, 1995 Australian Open, 1996 Ford South Australian Open, 1996 Australian Open, 1997 Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf, 1998 Greg Norman Holden International, 1998 Frankin Templeton Shark Shootout (with Steve Elkington).
* The first PGA TOUR player to surpass $10 million
* Remains one of the most competitive players on TOUR
* Norman's 1998 season was cut short by season-ending shoulder surgery in April. But he came back strong after a six-month layoff, winning the Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout with Steve Elkington.
* In the end of 1998, he contributed to the International Team's first Presidents Cup victory in his native Australia.
* Winner of three Arnold Palmer Awards (1986-90-95) and three Vardon Trophies (1988-89-94)
* Named PGA TOUR Player of Year for 1995
* First player to earn $1 million four times
* Did not miss a cut in 1983, 1987, 1994 and 1995
* Missed consecutive cuts at 1996 Bay Hill Invitational and THE PLAYERS Championship for first time on TOUR
* 1997 season was highlighted by two victories
* First win came at FedEx St. Jude Classic, where in dramatic fashion birdied final three holes for Sunday 66 to earn one-stroke victory over Dudley Hart
* 18th TOUR victory came at NEC World Series of Golf, where final-round 67 earned four-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson
* Had two second-place finishes and one third in 1997 and finished among top 15 on money list for third year in a row
* Began 1997 with victory in finals of Anderson Consulting World Championship of Golf
* In 1995, won three titles - Memorial Tournament, Canon Greater Hartford Open and NEC World Series of Golf - and a then-record $1,654,959
* NEC victory result of 66-foot chip on first extra hole that defeated Nick Price andBilly Mayfair
* Winner of two British Open titles
* At Turnberry in 1986, after an opening 74, shot tournament-record-tying 63 to take two-stroke lead
* Closed with rounds of 74-69 to defeat Gordon Brand by five strokes
* At Royal St. George's in 1993, trailed Corey Pavin and Nick Faldo by one stroke after 54 holes, then closed with 64 to defeat Faldo by two
* Eight runner-up finishes in majors include a playoff loss in each: 1984 U.S. Open, 1987 Masters, 1989 British Open, 1993 PGA Championship
* Heartbreaking loss at 1996 Masters Tournament produced outpouring of fan support
* Led after first, second and third rounds
* In first round, fired course-record-tying 63 and opening-round record
* Nick Faldo erased six-stroke deficit with 67 Sunday while Norman shot 78 to finish second
* First professional victory came at 1976 Westlakes Classic in Australia
* From 1976-90, won at least one tournament per year worldwide.
Owns 56 international titles
* Host of Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout, an unofficial PGA TOUR event, and Greg Norman's Holden International on Australasian PGA Tour
* Active course architect who has strain of turfgrass named after him.
He is also perhaps golf's most successful off-course businessman, as he owns several businesses ranging from golf course design and internet production to apparel.
For more information please visit Greg Norman's official web site at www.shark.com