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The Shark Showed His Teeth
Rick Reilly
July 28, 1986
Howling winds and deep rough could not prevent Greg Norman from winning the British Open at Turnberry by five strokes
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July 28, 1986

The Shark Showed His Teeth

Howling winds and deep rough could not prevent Greg Norman from winning the British Open at Turnberry by five strokes

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The lead was five shots when Norman chipped in from a bunker 75 feet away on No. 3; five again at No. 8, when Norman made a five-foot birdie. "I think that's when I knew," he would say later. "When I made that putt, I just said, Well, boys, I shut the gate. I'm playing too good now."

And, indeed, the lead was never less than four the rest of the way as Norman kept his heart and his feet below the speed limit. "At one point," he said, "Pete said to me, 'Look, walk at exactly the same speed I'm walking. I'm watching you. You're going too fast.' And I did, and when I got to the ball, I felt great and it seemed like no problem after that."

All that was left was to wait in the grandstands at 18 for the new champion. Norman hit his four-iron to the final green, and in British Open tradition, thousands of fans swarmed onto the fairway, trying to beat the ball there, the better to see the new king putt. If the new king lived, that is.

Somewhere in there—within the meadow of bobbing, ruddy Scot faces rumbling, rumbling forward, late for the last seat in Paradise—somewhere in all of that stampeding humanity was Norman, late for his much-postponed moment in history. The ball waited for him. The scoreboard waited for him. The silver trophy waited for him, longing to be kissed, but Norman was nowhere to be seen. Then, a commotion on the right side. And popping through, Norman appeared, sweater askew, nerves ruffled, but no worse for wear, free at last, arms held high, drinking in the din.

Twenty years from now, when we're remembering Norman's first major—perhaps the way we remember Arnie at Cherry Hills in 1960 or Jack at Oakmont in 1962—maybe we'll remember it that way: Norman, finally, forcefully breaking through, out of the faceless crowd and into that rare and healing Scottish sunshine with a smile and a promise nearly as bright.

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