By Matt Cohen
Greg Norman was Phil Mickelson before Phil Mickelson. A golfer viewed by many as one of the most talented of his generation, Norman never quite lived up to the expectations of many, including himself. Let us not forget however, that Norman still won two majors – the 1986 and 1993 Open Championship. But it’s the majors that Norman didn’t win that he’s most remembered for today.
It would also be shortsighted not to point out the success Norman has had away from the golf course. One of the sports most successful entrepreneurs of all-time, Greg White Shark Enterprises is a multinational corporation that focuses on everything from golf course design, to sportswear, to winery.
As ‘The Shark’ turns 60, here’s a look at 5 of Greg Norman’s career defining moments.
1986 Season – The Norman Slam
In 1986, a 31 year old Greg Norman held the 54 hole lead at all four majors. Unfortunately for Norman, his only win of the four came at the Open Championship, held that year at Turnberry.
The 1986 Masters was of course the famous Jack Nicklaus swan song. At the U.S. Open that year, Norman shot a final round 75 to lose by six strokes behind winner Raymond Floyd. At the final major of the year, Norman shot a final round 76 to lose the PGA Championship by two strokes to Bob Tway.
Norman finished 1986 with ten worldwide victories and as the number one ranked golfer in the world.
After an incredible 1986, Norman once again found himself tied for the lead on the 72nd hole of Augusta National. Would this be the year Norman captured the green jacket? Nope.
After Norman’s par on the 72nd hole at Augusta, he found himself in a sudden-death playoff with Larry Mize and Seve Ballesteros. On the second playoff hole, with Ballesteros eliminated, Norman hit his approach onto the green with a chance for birdie. Mize on the other hand, hit a terrible approach. Facing one of the most difficult chips on the course, Mize miraculously holed the 47-yard chip. Norman missed the birdie put and lost by one.
“This is probably the toughest tournament I had to lose. I’m more disappointed now than in any tournament I’ve lost,” said Norman after the defeat.
Fast forward two years. The Masters. Again. Norman came to the 72nd hole with a share of the lead, needing a par to make a playoff or a birdie for the outright win. However, he missed a 12-foot par putt and bogeyed the hole, missing out on a playoff with Nick Faldo and Scott Hoch by one shot.
1993 Open Championship
After slumping for a few years, The Shark turned to Butch Harmon for help and was back in contention at the 1993 Open Championship. Norman shot a final round 64, the lowest final round by a winner in Open history.
Gene Sarazen, who stood at the 18th green of St George’s, later said of Norman’s achievement: “I never thought I would live to see golf played like this.”
Ten years earlier, Norman shot a final round 75 as Jack Nicklaus won his 18th and final major. Now at 41 years old, it was now or never for Norman at Augusta.
The Shark opened with a course record-equalling 63 which propelled him to the top of the leaderboard. He held the lead before the final round. With five previous top five finishes at Augusta, and a 6-shot lead, Norman’s long-awaited Masters victory seemed to be in the cards.
Norman’s 6-shot lead at Augusta evaporated quickly with three straight bogeys on holes 9–11, and after Norman found water on the par-3 12th hole, resulting in a double bogey 5, his playing companion Faldo had taken the lead. Norman tried to give himself a chance down the stretch including an eagle chip on the 15th which lipped out of the hole dropping Norman to his knees. Arguably the most infamous shot of his career was on the very next hole; a hooked tee shot into the water ending any chance at victory.
Faldo won by five strokes, shooting a final round 67 to Norman’s 78.
What do you think of the list? Agree or disagree? Comment below and share your career retrospective of The Shark, Greg Norman.