Magnificently, Norman's putt did go in.
And then it came out.
It went down into the hole, took a nice long look, hung a moment and then spit itself out after a 270-degree loop. Just Norman's luck. He had found the only golf ball in the world afraid of the dark.
"Two feet from the hole, there was no doubt in my mind that putt was in," Azinger said afterward. Norman could not believe it. He threw his putter into the air and clutched his face. "That's as perfect a putt as I could've hit," he said later.
Now, at this point everybody from the bunker-raker to the blimp pilot realized that Norman was doomed. There was no fighting it. He three-putted the next playoff hole, the 10th, from 18 feet, leaving his birdie putt five feet short and, naturally, lipping out the par putt. Azinger had two-putted, and suddenly the title belonged to a man who claimed to have not broken 70 until 1981, and to have been unable to break 80 two days running. He can now. He shot 69-66-69-68, a 12-under 272.
It was a stirring tournament for 73 holes, but the 74th was plain and whimpering. It was a masterpiece signed with a spray can. But it was a major, and it was Azinger's, at long last. The flashes left his eyes, replaced by tears. He went from being halfway up the hill, where he was waiting to go on to the next playoff hole, to hugging his caddie, Mark Jimenez, and the trophy and most of Toledo.
"It feels like I always hoped it would feel," he said afterward. "All day I asked myself. Are you up to this? I mean, what are you gonna do, throw up or what? And I held up to the pressure."
As for Norman, it felt exactly like most majors feel to him, like heartache. He became the first man in 50 years to lose playoffs in all four majors, thus achieving the Grand Slammed. He is now the proud owner of six second-place finishes in major tournaments, and nine seconds already in the 1990s, which is more seconds than even Meat Loaf ever took. "Well," Norman said grimly, "at least I've been in there, I suppose."
And then he walked into another joyless, trophyless, heartless Toledo dusk. Maybe that's when it dawned on him.
That face. Azinger's caddie's face. He remembered just where he had seen it before. And maybe the realization stopped him in his tracks.