Archive for July, 2008

The Shark’s Bid For History

July 23, 2008

Greg Norman came up short in his attempt to win this year’s British Open, but one has to appreciate what he accomplished.  Here is a guy who has not played competitive golf in years, who last lead a major after 3 rounds in 1996, when he suffered his famous meltdown against Nick Faldo in the Masters.  Twelve years later he shows up and found the talent still inside him, as it is in all great champions, to muster one final hurrah.  What makes it remarkable is that he is semi-retired from the game.  It’s kind of like Byron Nelson winning the 1955 French Open, ten years after retiring from the game, but that was against a lesser field in benign conditions.  On top of that Nelson was only 43. 

The oldest man to win a major was Julius Boros, who caputred the 1968 PGA at the age of 48.  The oldest British Open champion was Old Tom Morris, who was 46 when he won the last of his four Opens – in 1867!  Sam Snead was 52 when he won his last tournament.  So for a golfer over 50 to be so close in this day and age to winning a tournament of any kind is remarkable, let alone the oldest championship in golf.   Norman hung in, leading going into the back nine. 

You have to go back to the 1920 U.S. Open to find such an old warrior ahead at that late stage.  Harry Vardon was 50 then, and nature did him in, as a gale blew across the course and his putting betrayed him.  Norman experienced something of the same fate, but he didn’t shrink from the pressure.  He just succumbed to age and history.  I take my hat off to him, and appreciate his guts to even be there, after all the diappointments in his past.  I wish he could have won, for history’s sake, but his four days at Royal Birkdale will live on, and in that sense he did make history.  Thanks for the great ride.

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