Greg Norman's demise was tough to watch, even for the guys who get paid to do it. Ben Crenshaw, serving as a color analyst for CBS during Sunday's telecast of the Masters, excused himself from Butler Cabin after Norman followed three successive bogeys by hitting a seven-iron into Rae's Creek and double-bogeying the 12th hole. When Crenshaw didn't return, a worried Bill Macatee, with whom he had been working, went looking for him. He found him outside smoking cigarettes and fighting back tears. "Greg is such a good guy," Crenshaw said. "This is so hard to watch."
Although Norman might not believe it, Peter Kostis didn't enjoy seeing the Shark go belly-up either. During Saturday's telecast, Kostis astutely observed that it appeared that Norman was fighting his swing and that he had turned a 76 or a 78 into a 71 by making good decisions and relying on an airtight short game.
Kostis later repeated his take on Norman to Brian Hammonds of the Golf Channel, who paraphrased his comments on the air that night. Norman happened to catch the Hammonds segment, and he hit the ceiling. On Sunday morning, before preparing for the final round, Norman called CBS producer Frank Chirkinian and told him in no uncertain terms what he thought of Kostis's opinion.
Late on Sunday, Kostis said it was all a misunderstanding. "It wasn't meant to be a prognostication of doom for Greg," Kostis said. "Certain things are pretty much cast in stone as far as golf is concerned. One is that it's very difficult when you're missing it both ways. Greg hit it right at 9 and 11 on Saturday, and he hit it left at 15 and 18. I know he was working on a stronger grip, and he obviously looked uncomfortable. He was fighting his driver. I meant what I said to be a compliment. What it does do is leave a million unanswered questions."
One of which has to be: Will Butch Harmon, the swing coach Norman ditched after last season but brought back to help him prepare for the Masters, take the fall for his man's collapse? Harmon sounded more like a football coach than a golf instructor on Sunday night. "There's nothing I can say right now," he said. "I've got to look at the tapes and talk to Greg and see how he felt."
Up the Creek
Michael Campbell was the first player at the Masters to benefit from the lower water level in Rae's Creek in front of the 13th green, the one major change made to the course this year. Campbell hit a six-iron into the hazard, and in years past, when the creek was full, he would have been forced to take a penalty stroke and a drop. But because the creek bed now has just a small stream flowing through it, Campbell's ball was only half-submerged, and he opted to play out. "I just closed my eyes, and the ball came out to 10 feet," Campbell said. He made the putt for birdie.
As the tournament progressed, more and more players went for the green of the par-5 hole in 2, knowing that if they came up short they might catch a lie either in the creek or on its banks. Ninety-nine players reached the 13th in two shots during the week, and while the 485-yard hole played the same statistically as last year, the added option was a hit.
"I like it much better this way," said Mark Calcavecchia despite a bogey from the ditch on Thursday. "At least it gives you a chance."
Key Man at the National