Greg Norman is near tears. The pain is almost too much to bear. This is because under his folded arms, as he waits for his turn to hit, he is pressing three fingers of his right hand under his rib cage as hard as he can. He digs so deep that his lip quivers and his diaphragm feels as if it were being punctured. Norman does not want to do this. He needs to do it. This is what he gets for missing that last birdie putt, for letting his compass go a couple of degrees off Perfect.
Let the other two guys in his threesome just stand there and wait, accomplishing nothing. Norman does not have time to wait. He is pressing, working, improving. When he finally stops digging with his fingers, it feels so good that he lets out a long breath, and he is able to focus and hit the perfect shot.
"I've always been a pusher of my own life," he will say later. "I expect 101 percent from myself, and I expect 101 percent of others." Is it his fault if the world doesn't get the memo?
Greg Norman is picking something off your sweater. A hair or a nodule of wool. If he knows you, he does this sort of thing all the time. "You will get along fine with Greg," says his manager, Frank Williams, "as soon as you realize he's an absolute, stark-raving perfectionist."
Greg Norman is voted the 1995 PGA Player of the Year. In one of his greatest seasons he heads the money list despite playing only 16 Tour events, is the top-ranked player in the world by three zip codes, wins three PGA tournaments, wins the Australian Open, nearly wins the Masters, nearly wins the U.S. Open and has the Tour's lowest scoring average. To celebrate, he fires his swing coach. "I wasn't happy with the way I was hitting the ball," he explains.
Greg Norman is gone. He was here a second ago, relaxing with Nick Price off an obscenely beautiful island near Belize on Norman's $4.9 million, 87-foot custom-designed fishing yacht, Aussie Rules. There is nothing he needs to do, and if there were, there's a full crew just waiting for him to ask. You almost wanted to get a camera and snap the shot for Ripley's: Greg Norman doing nothing.
"Here is a vacation with Greg," says Flash, the Aussie Rules mate. "Get up early, wolf down breakfast, dive, come up, fish, then a quick lunch, bottom-fish, dive, troll for sailfish, then dinner, sleep and start again the next day." When he hears this later, Norman will beam and say, "That's how I relax. One day in Mexico, trolling, I pulled in 28 of 43 bites." What, you don't keep score on vacation?
Anyway, all Price can figure is that Norman saw something that horrified him, because he jumped up and ran below. Now he's back with some sandpaper, and he's feverishly working on a tiny scratch on the side of the boat. You don't see that every day: a guy who pulls down $300,000 just to show up at international tournaments—a walking ATM who rakes in about $11 million in endorsements per year and who just cashed out a reported $38 million worth of Cobra Golf Inc. stock—on his hands and knees, working on a scratch. Says Price, "Greg Normans do not come along very often."
Greg Norman is a foreigner playing his first full year on the PGA Tour. It's 1984. The course is the Atlanta Country Club. The hole is the 11th, a par-5. Norman has just reached the green in two. A U.S. star, who shall go nameless, plays his wedge shot on in three and then walks up to Norman. "Son, you're not good enough to play over here," the man says. "You just pack your ass up and go home." And the young Australian thinks, Welcome to America.
It's 1996, and Greg Norman is sitting in the front passenger seat of his Chevy Suburban, stuck behind the Little Toyota That Couldn't on a Miami boulevard. He does not have time for this. This is a man with a need for speed, a desire to get everything done a week ago. Enraged that the Camry isn't giving 101%, Norman reaches in front of Flash, who's driving, and honks the horn. Norman makes a halfhearted attempt to grab the wheel. He honks again and curses like a longshoreman. It's odd, because seconds ago he seemed to be in a fine mood. All of a sudden he's Krakatoa. "You silly motherf——-!" he shouts. "Get out of the way!"