It never happens on the golf course. It never happens in the press room, where he has shown up for all 51 of his second-place press conferences. But Greg Norman will lose it on you. In England in the early '80s he chased down a motorist who kept swerving in front of him and punched the man in the jaw. And three years ago Norman offered to fight Paul Azinger after Azinger said, more or less, that Norman's record hadn't lived up to his reputation. "You want a piece of me?" Norman asked. Azinger didn't.
"He's a lot like his father," says Greg's mother, Toini, who loves him anyway. "You don't like to cross him. He always thinks he's right. I told him that the other day. I said, 'You're getting just like your father. Stubborn.' "
"I admit it," says Norman. "I am not the most even-tempered guy in the world." But can't people see how much there is to be done?
Greg Norman is buzzing fish, harassing seagulls, threatening lifespans. He is eight feet above the Atlantic Ocean at the controls of his $4 million Bell 230 twin-engine helicopter, doing 140 knots, which is about 160 mph, which is pretty much certifiable at this low altitude. He is screaming up the South Florida coastline as if he were late for the obit page, and he does not yet have his helicopter license, and he just missed that pelican, and the regular pilot, who does have a license, doesn't have his hands on the stick. He's on the phone. He doesn't seem worried.
"Greg loves being good at things," says Laura, his wife. The four of us in the back of the chopper hope that flying helicopters is one of those things. "Absolutely," says Gary Hogan, the pilot. "For someone who doesn't do this all the time, Greg is the best I've ever seen." Unfortunately, this statement does not register with us because most of the blood has left our brains.
Greg, aren't you the least bit scared?
"Nahhhh," he says. "Come with me sometime when I weave in and out of the trees in the Everglades. That's fun."
Greg Norman is 13 and unable to figure out his homework. He tries to solve a math problem and fails, and when he asks his father, Merv, for help, the stern and stocky man only points Greg back to his room. "Go in there and figure it out," Merv says.
Greg is back again. "Dad, I can't figure it out."
Index finger. "Get back there and try again."