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Bowed but Not Broken
Rick Reilly
June 22, 1987
Crazy shots that beat him in the PGA and the Masters have fueled Greg Norman's desire to win the Open
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June 22, 1987

Bowed But Not Broken

Crazy shots that beat him in the PGA and the Masters have fueled Greg Norman's desire to win the Open

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A few weeks ago, Greg Norman, golf's Job, was filming an instructional video at his home course, the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla., when, in the distance, it began to thunder.

Seeing bolts of lightning, the film crew made haste for the clubhouse, union rules. But not Norman. Norman got a bucket of balls and began chipping onto the practice green while the skies lit up around him.

One of the crew members began to fret. "Greg!" he yelled. "What are you doing! Can't you see what it's like out?"

Norman looked up from his wedge.

"Man, I've been struck by lightning twice in the last eight months," he yelled. "It can't happen again."

For a man who has been struck with such an extraordinary run of rotten luck, Greg Norman seems to be stubbornly carrying on. So, with Fate's hands currently around Norman's neck and Norman's around Fate's, let's take time out for a recap.

No golfer had ever chipped in on the 72nd hole to win a major, right? So what happens? On the last hole of the 1986 PGA Championship a human sand rake named Bob Tway chips in from a bunker to beat our Aussie hero, Crocodile Done-in, by two. Then, at the very next major, the 1987 Masters, Larry Mize, known near and near, chips in on the second hole of sudden death from a quite unchip-in-able place—140 feet away, downhill, onto a green faster than the Hackensack off ramp. Who needs a putter to play Norman? Just bring your lucky wedge and a Saint Christopher medal. Ever see a Great White Shark eaten by an anchovy? Twice?

In endorsement bonuses alone, those two miracles cost Norman more than $500,000, but that's only money. It is history Norman yearns for, and were it not for those two shots, he would have come to this week's U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco with a raffle ticket to the modern game's first-ever Consecutive Slam—the 1986 British Open, the '86 PGA, the '87 Masters and the '87 U.S. Open. Only two literal strokes of luck kept him from it. Another catastrophe and you can look for Norman on the cover of Psychology Today .

There is more. Norman lost last year's U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills after leading on Sunday and lost the 1986 Jack-Is-Back Masters after needing only a par on the final hole to tie. That's frightfully close to winning five of the last five majors. Instead he has just one. Norman has become the most beloved loser since Ralph Kramden.

But do you see Norman smashing every vase in his house? Do you see him refusing to go outdoors? Do you see him missing out on the tiniest sliver of fun? No, you do not.

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