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But no. Suddenly freed, Norman sprang up. He went straight to Laura and hugged her, hugged his caddie, hugged his friends. Then he began shaking hands like a mayoral candidate. "This makes me feel so good," he said as he rode to a champagne party in a Rolls-Royce. "For myself, my friends, my family. They've seen what I've gone through, and they see what I want to achieve. I did that today."
When Norman shot 64 on the final day of the 1989 British Open, only to lose in a playoff, somebody asked him if fate owed him one. "Hell," said Norman, "fate owes me about four."
This wasn't four. But it was damn sure one and a half. This 64 was not much, really, only the lowest winning final round in British Open history, only the "best golf I've ever played," as Norman said, only a final round that will sit forever on a shelf alongside Ben Hogan's 67 at Oakland Hills, Arnold Palmer's 65 at Cherry Hills, Jack Nicklaus's 65 at Baltusrol and Johnny Miller's 63 at Oakmont. Get this: Only one man had ever finished under par at St. George's in a British Open, Bill Rogers in 1981 with a 276. Norman beat that by nine shots. Sarazen, a guest of the tournament, called it, "the greatest championship in my 70 years in golf."
Still, it's more than numbers. It's sweet redemption for a man who had more weight on his shoulders than the bottom man in a circus totem pole. It's a new handshake with the man in the mirror. No longer is Norman, as one British newspaper headline dubbed him, NEARLY MAN, the glass half full, the guy who won only half as many majors as Andy North. He is the Hero of Sandwich. It's never again being able to call Norman overrated.
"All week, everybody kept saying, 'Nick is the man to beat,' " Norman said. "Yes, he was. If I hadn't of beaten him, he'd have won."
About a par-5 from there, Faldo was explaining what went wrong for the last time. "Greg was always just a little bit out of my range," he said.
And, for once, out of his league.