Even when Ballesteros doesn't win, he is a memorable presence. On Friday, for instance, he played the par-5 8th hole as it had probably never been played. The 8th is a 535-yard monster that runs up a long, steep hill before dog-legging left to a green surrounded by enormous mounds. To the left, coming the opposite direction along the same steep hill, is the fairway of the par-5 2nd hole. That day Ballesteros pulled his drive through the trees that separate the two fairways, the ball ending up on the 2nd fairway. Instead of trying to beat his way back through the woods to the 8th fairway, Ballesteros whacked a four-iron 170 yards farther up the 2nd fairway to a position separated from the 8th green by 175 yards, a healthy stand of Georgia pines and a massive scoreboard. From there his towering five-iron shot over trees and scoreboard left him a few feet off the putting surface and 30 feet or so from the pin. "It was almost a good shot," he said, amused at his own presumption.
Alas, he bungled the chip and ended up with a bogey 6, but he had created one more gem for collectors of Ballesterosiana. If he never wins another major, Ballesteros will still be a legend for the joyful sort of game he plays. He glowers and grimaces and mutters imprecations in Spanish, but he is wonderful to watch.
Norman rarely glowers, seldom grimaces and seems to be having a good time even while he is going about the very serious business of winning, or nearly winning, major tournaments; of the last five majors, Norman has won one (the British Open), lost two by a single stroke, another by two strokes, and the U.S. Open by six shots after having led through three rounds.
On Friday night the promoters of the Australian Masters threw an Aussie barbecue. "They flew in a sheep and 1,500 bottles of Swan," said Laura Norman, Greg's wife. "He had a good time with all his mates and it relaxed him." The next day Norman shot a 66 that propelled him into the hunt after opening rounds of 73 and 74.
Asked Sunday evening how it felt to have lost successive majors to extraordinary finishing shots, Norman said, "You wonder when it will change. You feel as if you've got to fight for everything yourself, that nothing ever comes your way, as if they'd never give it to you. I've holed 10-, 15-, 20-foot putts to win, but not bunker shots or chip shots from 140 feet. I couldn't believe it. I saw the ball rolling in and thought, Well, if it misses it'll probably go four or five feet by. I was just watching for the speed of the green, and I watched, and then the closer it got to the hole the more it looked like it was going in, and then—oh my God."
Yet minutes later Norman had the painful experience all worked out to his mind's satisfaction. "As long as you get yourself into contention, where if these things happen...at least you were there. You were part of that history. You made it happen, in a way. If I didn't birdie 17, I would not have been involved for Larry to do that."
Larry Mize is now part of that history, too. The hometown hero never played Augusta National when he was growing up because, he says, the Masters meant so much to him that he wanted to "earn" his way onto the course. On Sunday the former keeper of the scoreboard earned himself a lifetime pass.