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Norman known for hard-luck losses

Friday, January 2, 2004
Norman failed '96 Masters test
By Ron Flatter
Special to

Signature Event
April 14, 1996 - Eighty-four years ago, the Titanic sank. Today, it was Greg Norman's turn.

From the start of the Masters, Norman had tamed the Augusta National course, beginning with a record-tying 63 in the first round. Through three rounds, he was 13-under-par at 203, six shots ahead of Nick Faldo. In a career that had been marked by final-round collapses in Grand Slam tournaments, not even Norman, who had lost each of the majors in a playoff, could blow this one.

Could he?

But instead of playing like a champ, Norman choked up his huge lead. As the pressure grew, he spent an incredible amount of time standing over his ball, fidgeting around. From the ninth hole through the 12th, Norman took four consecutive fives -- three bogeys and a double-bogey. He went from three ahead to two behind.

Norman never recovered. The world's No. 1-ranked player finished with a 78, 11 shots worse than playing partner Faldo. His 281 left him five strokes behind Faldo. Norman, though, did make the record book: He blew the biggest final-round lead in a major.

"I screwed up," Norman said. "It's all on me. I know that. All these hiccups I have, they must be for a reason. All this is just a test. I just don't know what the test is yet."

Odds 'n' Ends

  • Out of high school, Norman was less interested in golf and more interested in surfing.

  • A year later Norman began putting in hours and hours of practice, doing an apprenticeship under Australian golf pro Charlie Earp. It was under Earp's tutelage that Norman won his first tournament at 21.

  • Norman made a positive impression quickly when he got his PGA Tour card, getting into a playoff at the 1983 Bay Hill Classic before losing to Mike Nicolette. He made the cut in each of the nine tournaments he entered that year.

  • Even though he played much of 1986 outside the U.S., Norman's $653,296 in earnings from 19 events led the PGA Tour.

  • Norman became the first PGA Tour player to earn $1 million in each of four years (1990, 1993, 1994 and 1995).

  • Norman announced on Nov. 15, 1994 that he and Fox Television mogul Rupert Murdoch were going to start a world tour of 30 events. Eight $3-million tournaments were to involve the top 30-40 golfers in the world rankings, but the tour never got off the ground, largely because of the objections of PGA commissioner Tim Finchem.

  • Three years later, the PGA Tour announced plans for its own world circuit.

  • The shoulder surgery Dr. Richard Hawkins performed on April 22, 1998, on Norman involved the shaving of bone spurs that caused tendinitis in his rotator cuff. A heat probe was subsequently used to shrink the capsule in the shoulder socket.

  • Seven months of rehabilitation followed before Norman teamed with Steve Elkington to win his Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout at Thousand Oaks, Calif., in November 1998.

  • Forbes has listed Norman among the world's richest athletes. His annual earnings peaked at an estimated $16.2 million in 1997, ranking him 11th on the magazine's list.

  • His Greg Norman Collection of apparel with the "Shark" logo reached $200 million in gross revenue in 1999.

  • With the Summer Olympics being held in his native Australia in 2000, Norman participated by running one leg of the torch relay en route to Sydney.

  • Besides endorsement deals with Maxfli, Reebok, Boeing, Chevrolet, Bell Helicopter and Cobra, he has launched a chain of restaurants known as Greg Norman Down Under Grills and has leant his name to Greg Norman's Pasta Sauce and Greg Norman Estates wines.

  • An active architect of golf courses, he even has had a strain of turf grass named after him. "GN-1" is a dark green grass that has been used at Pro Player Stadium in Miami and Turner Field in Atlanta.

  • Although he says he is not materialistic, Norman exhibits a taste for the finer things in life. He developed a passion for Ferraris as a young adult, and he spent $40 million to buy a Boeing 747.

  • Going into 2004, Norman's earned $13,931,929 on the PGA Tour.

  • Norman married his wife Laura in 1981. They have a daughter, Morgan-Leigh, and a son, Gregory.

    In 2003, Norman purchased a $70-million, 285-foot yacht with seven auxiliary boats and a $1-million home theater.

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