All is not lost. Golf's future, quite nearly on the verge of being canceled, may have finally arrived on Sunday in the form of Australia's Greg Norman, a man who overcame his own worst instincts to win his first major championship—the 115th British Open, at Turnberry, Scotland.
Now that Norman, 31, has shed the scarlet letter (C, for "collapsible windpipes"), golf may at last have found someone to start signing some inheritance papers. After blowing more leads than Inspector Clouseau—including one-shot, last-day margins at this year's Masters and U.S. Open—Norman delivered a steady-enough, one-under 69 on Sunday to plunder Gordon J. Brand, and anybody else you've hardly heard of, by five swats.
"He felt it inside," said Norman's wife, Laura. "He told me on the Concorde coming over, 'I'd like to lead for four rounds and win.' "
Norman was wrong. He led for three rounds and won: 74-63-74-69—280, gloriously simple, even par. But they were the right three rounds, the last three. He could have won even if he had six-putted the 72nd green. This time it took only two putts, and when the second clinked into the cup, the albatross went poof, and we were left with a startling look at what sort of computer golf had wrought. Consider: The British Open is Norman's third win in his last seven tournaments. He had set a PGA Tour record with winnings of $547,779 even before he pocketed the $105,000 first-place check on Sunday. Of the 12 rounds played in majors so far this year, Norman's name was the first one you read in the next morning's paper six times. How many years has it been since anyone had such a long, hard look at the Loch Slam Monster?
Maybe this says it better: After a torrid 63 on Friday that tied the record for the lowest round ever in a major (a three-putt on 18 kept him from breaking it), someone asked, "Greg, have you shot another round anywhere near that good this year?"
Norman was thinking about it when somebody else hollered, " Canada!"
"Yeah, I shot a 62 at the Canadian Open," said Norman.
Then somebody yelled, " Las Vegas!"
"Oh, yeah," Norman said, somewhat embarrassed.