That was far from true on Friday and Saturday, when Gallagher had rounds of 73 and 72. Beginning the final round three strokes behind the leader, Frost, Gallagher seemed to be looking at little more than a decent payday, particularly after he bogeyed the fourth hole on Sunday to fall five strokes behind.
But walking up the 457-yard, par-4 5th, the toughest hole on the course, the onetime Hoosier began talking to his caddie about former Indiana Ail-American Steve Alford and his uncanny ability to sink three-pointers. Sure enough Gallagher holed a 40-foot bomb for a birdie.
"That got me in a flow," said Gallagher, who went on to birdie the 9th, the 10th and the 13th.
Gallagher was tied with Norman at seven under when he came to the 17th. After a good drive, he "full-nuked" a three-wood from 238 yards to within 20 feet of the pin. But he ran the first putt three feet past and pulled the comebacker. When Norman birdied the 15th moments later, it appeared that Gallagher had made a fatal mistake. And so he had, until Norman's persistent ghost gave him new life.
Despite the pall cast by Norman's collapse, the Tour Championship has become exactly what the PGA Tour wants it to be: a climactic, season-ending event possessing the strong likelihood of determining the year's best player and staged on one of the world's great courses. Indeed, the enduring star of this year's event was The Olympic Club.
The tournament will return to this course next year, which may give Norman a chance for redemption. Not that he was devastated by his collapse. His victory at Sandwich and his phenomenal record this year—seven finishes in the top four out of his 15 appearances on the PGA Tour—have given him effective shock absorption for the near future.
"Golf is a wonderful life cycle," said Norman, in the positive mode that more than ever has marked his mood this year. "I mean, I enjoyed it today. I made mistakes, but I learn from my mistakes."
Those who have watched Norman wonder. If indeed he is to become a player for the ages, he'll have to truly absorb the lesson he got at Olympic.