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Trying to carve a low shot all the way to the flag, Norman slid his body ahead of the ball and pushed it long and into the hillside, where it stayed in the rough. Norman's bid was essentially dead. His desperate pitch ran 20 feet by the hole. Shell-shocked, he hit his putt to tie; it came up two feet short. Norman finished in a four-way tie for second with Frost, Scott Simpson and John Huston.
And while Norman had decidedly outplayed both Azinger and Price, his two rivals for postseason honors, the distance between first and second made all the difference to Norman's chances of being voted the year's outstanding player. Price, whose putter failed him on his way to a tie for 18th at two-over 286, won the season's money title at $1,478,557; Azinger, who struggled at Olympic to finish 21st, was second on the money list, with Norman third at $1,359,653. Price will contend with Azinger for player of the year honors. A deflated Norman conceded any chance at that honor.
Norman had no one to blame but himself. At Olympic, he hadn't been victimized by any exotic hole outs or fantastic putts. In fact, Gallagher played the last four holes one over par. Most annoyingly, Norman had struck the ball beautifully, hitting more fairways—47 out of 56—than anyone in the field.
"I didn't physically put on a bad performance, I just mentally put on a pathetic performance," said Norman. "I really did make two bad mental mistakes. I just got overzealous on 12, thinking nine times out of 10, with a nine-iron in your hand from 131 yards, you can get inside 10 feet. On 181 wanted to get the ball back there. I didn't want to leave myself 20 or 30 feet under the hole, so I tried to hit a little flat shot, got just a little bit ahead of it and blocked, which is why I hit it three or four yards farther than I really wanted."
In the end Norman had broken his own code for playing Olympic, which was to forget the flags and shoot at the middle of the small greens, knowing that if he was successful, he would leave himself enough makable birdie putts to shoot in the 60s.
"I sat here and said, You've got to play conservative out there," said Norman afterward, "so I put my foot in my mouth and didn't do what I was supposed to do. I got overzealous, and I paid the price."
Collecting the check was the 32-year-old Gallagher, who won his third tournament in 10 years on the PGA Tour and finished his best season by far with a total of $1,078,870 in earnings, rocketing all the way to fourth on the 1993 money list.
This victory was unexpected in more ways than one. The last time Gallagher had played The Olympic Club was in the 1981 U.S. Amateur, when as a collegian he failed to qualify for match play with scores of 87-81. "I went home and quit the game for six weeks after that," he said. "I figured I better start making some grades, because I was not going to have a career in golf."
Naturally, in his next official round on the course 12 years later, Gallagher posted a light-running 63, eclipsing the previous competitive course record set by Rives McBee in the 1966 Open and equaled by Keith Clearwater in the '87 Open. Besides giving him the luxury of being able to total one over par for the rest of the tournament, that round provided Gallagher, who is sensitive to being underappreciated, with extra incentive to hold on.
"I didn't want anyone to think that round was a fluke, because it wasn't," said Gallagher, whose 2-1 record in the recent Ryder Cup refuted predictions that he would fold under the pressure. "I had it inside 10 feet all day."