Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two sides of Greg Norman

For three days we were amazed. Greg Norman was leading the British Open. No sir! This was certainly not the old Greg Norman. It was just a Greg Norman who was older and it appeared wiser as well. The 35 mile per hour winds weren’t gnawing away at his psyche as it appeared was happening to his younger competitors.

Norman’s ball striking was superb. The distance control of his iron shots to greens defied the laws of nature. To say he was putting on a clinic was like saying Van Gogh could draw. The closest a word came to describing his first 54 holes was brilliant. Moreover, the simmering intensity over every shot, long a Norman trademark was gone. He appeared to be a man at peace with himself and the world.

Broadcasters credited his new wife, Chris Evert, for being the calming influence in his life. All the while Norman kept saying he had extremely low expectations of himself. After all, he kept reminding us, he is a part time golfer now. We didn’t want to hear that, never mind believe it. We wanted just one more round. We wanted him to hold it together for just 18 more holes. We wanted him to remember that pars were his best friends. Mistakes were for the younger, less experienced players. Greg just had to grind for 18 holes and then present Chrissie with the Claret Jug.

We forgot who were talking about here. After all it was a Sunday and it was a Major Championship. We forgot that this was a man who in 1986 led all four Majors after the third round and won just The Open Championship. We forgot that this is a man who extracted greatness from his opponents in these situations ala Larry Mize, Bob Tway and Raymond Floyd and if the field wasn’t equal to the task, Norman would melt down on his own.

For some unknown reason, that Greg Norman appeared on the first tee at Royal Birkdale on Sunday. On a day, when par was his best friend, Norman courted birdies and was rebuffed. When a long iron from the tee was the play; out came the driver followed shortly by a bogey. Maybe it’s the Sunday thing. The Bible says, “On the seventh day, God rested.” Evidently so does Norman’s head. At least this time, you can’t say he choked again because there aren’t any other 53-year old men who could have gotten in the position.

In the end, the right player won. Padraig Harrington outplayed and out thought all the rest to become the 13th player to win back-to-back Open Championships and the first European since James Braid in 1905-06.


Unfortunately, another all too familiar story unraveled this past week when Michelle Wie was disqualified for not signing her scorecard before leaving the scoring area after her second round. I know that it’s ultimately the responsibility of the player, but in this instance I’m not going to hang it on her.

This one hangs around the collective neck of those little cutups from Daytona, Fla.—the LPGA. What were they thinking? On the PGA Tour they ask players not to leave until the scorer checks the card for two signatures. It’s a common courtesy that the LPGA probably has never heard. Then to top it off, they don’t tell Wie until after the third round when she had played her way to second place! I ask again, what were they thinking?

All it cost her was a chance to make enough money to avoid tour school in the Fall. If she maintained her position in the final round, she would have made it.

Evidently, her parents aka The Parents from Hell took the financial loss to heart because it was announced at the start of the week that Michelle is playing in another PGA Tour event at the Reno – Tahoe Open. When will they ever learn?

Bartender, please look in the wine cellar for a decent wine of a 1986 vintage for Greg and please pour two glasses of water for TPfH to wash down their stupid pills.

See you on the first tee!


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