Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lets Get This Straight, Greg Norman Did Not Choke

As I was getting all my stuff together for the Colorado Open qualifier I'm playing in tomorrow, the ABC affiliate in Denver had their sports guy on, talking about the British Open.

The man was your typical local sportscaster -- smug, spiked hair even though he's in his mid to late 30s and a negative outlook on sports because he secretly hates them now since they've taken over his life.

He introduced his British Open "coverage" with a rant (and an accompanying graphic) about Greg Norman "choking" away the tournament in typical Norman fashion.

I stopped ironing my shirt and just stared at the screen. Is this guy really so clueless about golf he compares Norman at the 2008 Open Championship to the Shark at Augusta in 1996?

The man is 53-years-old and admitted he's been playing more tennis than golf of late. He played in the British Open because he's allowed to and because he's won the thing twice, a respect that is shown by true champions. For some unknown reason, Norman found his game at Royal Birkdale, shooting twin 70s on Thursday and Friday and following that up with a two-over 72 on Saturday in weather that would have sunk the Santa Maria.

His play was exactly the reason golf is the best sport in the world. Dads that remember Norman being the dominant force he once was had the rare opportunity to have their kids in front of a television as the Shark produced that swing that has always been a pleasure to watch. I'm 24, and my first golf memory of watching the sport with my dad was the Masters in 1996. I remember seeing the disappointment and only a 6th grader at the time, I had my first true encounter with how cruel golf can be. We had a living legend, Tiger before Tiger was Tiger, playing golf that was more 1988 than 2008, and just because he didn't win doesn't give anyone the right to call him a choke artist.

It was the type of story that made golf enthusiasts, for a split second, forget about all this Tiger Woods business. We all got to sit back and watch in hopes of a miracle, even if we weren't totally convinced it was going to happen.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, was going to take that Claret Jug away from Padraig Harrington. Let's all just be happy we got to see Norman do his thing one more time.

Photo courtesy of ADRIAN DENNIS, AFP


Richard Basehart said...

You're evidently too young to remember 1986---the year Norman choked in the Masters, US Open, and PGA Championships after holding the 54-hole lead in all four majors. You also are unfamiliar with the 1993 PGA Championship and 1995 US Open, also events in which Norman failed to close the deal when he had the tournament in his pocket.

Norman is no living legend and NOTHING like Tiger Woods. Woods is 14-for-14 in major championships when he has the 54-hole lead. Norman may have been the world's number one ranked player in 1996, but that was because the PGA Tour is full of complacent players who are satisfied with top-fives and $$$$$$.

Richard Basehart said...

Like you, I was glad to see Norman "do his thing one more time"---that is, crash and burn by poor game and course management and failure to execute. Yes, he did choke---again. Tiger would have game-planned the elements and lapped the field---again.

John said...

Norman isn't a living legend? Really? World number one for 331 weeks across two decades? Two Open Championships? First golfer to make $10 million? What the fuck qualifies someone as a living legend in universe of idiots that you're from?

Tell you what - you stop playing golf and then go to the Open Championship and see how in it you are after 54 holes. Norman is 53 and DOESN'T PLAY GOLF ANYMORE. And he led the Open after 54 holes. No amount of pathetic Tiger-withdrawal will ever diminish that.

Oh, and by the way, asshole, I DO remember the 86 Masters. I'm sure Norman felt really awful when he went out on Sunday and shot 2 under only to lose to a 65 by a 46-year-old, which is absolutely something he had control over.

Norman didn't choke yesterday - he just didn't win. There's a difference. If you weren't such an ignorant douchebag you'd realize that.

Rick Peterson said...

I have to agree with the ignorant douchebag. Had Norman employed just a little bit of basic course management, he would have protected that lead. Hell, even my wife was wondering why his caddy didn't break his driver in half.
Had he played intelligently and done all he could to make pars, you could say that "he just didn't win." Unforced errors allowed Harrington to hoist that trophy. Sorry, that's choking.

Richard Basehart said...

Well, "john," if you remember Augusta in 1986, you should remember that Norman stood in the 18th fairway on Sunday needing a birdie to win, par to tie Nicklaus. He shanked a 4-iron into the gallery, BOGEYED the hole, and GAVE the green jacket to Nicklaus. That's called a CHOKE.

John Daly, Larry Nelson, and Sandy Lyle have 2 major championships. Are you seriously willing to call them "living legends?"

Career money lists and phony "number one" rankings mean nothing compared to winning multiple major championships.

My list of "living legends?" Nicklaus, Woods, Player, Watson, Palmer.

John said...

I guess you're right. When a BIRDIE ON 18 AT AUGUSTA is the only thing that will hold off an out-of-left-field challenge by a player 15 years your senior, I guess he did choke. That's something every golfer does all the time, right? Birdie 18 at Augusta to win the Masters. Easiest thing in the world.

Oh, and by the by - putting quotes around my name while YOU use an alias? What are you, a fucking retard? I mean, does it hurt, being that stupid? I figure it has to hurt. Jesus, please kill yourself and spare the future of humanity from your defective genes.

Richard Basehart said...


Maybe if you brought facts rather than insults to an argument, you might win one sometime. Just a suggestion.

Todd said...

Wow, people are pretty adamant about their thoughts on this. I agree with your post Shane. Norman had to have gone into the Open with very low expectations. To have just played well and made the cut was a bonus for him. I don't think a 53 yr with a rusty game shooting a 77 on a tough day is necessarily choking. I think it's a little unfair to say otherwise when he far surpassed anyone's wildest dreams of what could happen.

And I'm only 32 so I don't remember the 86 Masters but as far I'm concerned he is a legend in the game. The Shark was the man for awhile, even if he was unable to close the deal on Sundays.

Shane B. said...

My big argument for anyone that thinks Norman choked is that he was playing with a guy that shot a 69 in windy, tough conditions Sunday at the Open, closing with a 32 that included one of the best shots of the year on 17.

I really believe Paddy won that way more than anyone lost it. Only five other people broke par on Sunday.

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