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"And you feel their pain," Norman said. "Somebody's got to lose."
His words were a poignant reminder that he, more than Evert, found the laurel crown to be full of thorns. For every golf fan who remembers Norman's final-round 64 to win the British at Royal St. George's, 10 remember him finding two 18th-hole bunkers and a flagstone patio to lose a playoff at Royal Troon. For every reporter asking him to comment on his tournament-record, 24-under-par obliteration of the feared Stadium course at the 1994 Players Championship, there are 50 asking how he felt when a) Bob Tway holed out from a bunker to steal the 1986 PGA Championship from him, or b) Larry Mize tore his heart out with a 140-foot pitch-in on the second playoff hole at the '87 Masters, or c) when he shot a final-round 78 to blow a six-shot lead to Nick Faldo at the '96 Masters.
Evert would have to dig deep to find a disappointment of Normanesque proportions: perhaps Wimbledon in 1983 when, weakened by food poisoning, she lost a third-round match to Kathy Jordan, and with it a chance to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles at the same time.
But why all the doom and gloom? The Shark has been working out with medicine balls and heavy tubing to prepare for this week's Masters, and he looks as if he could knock out a kangaroo with one punch. "My first priority was getting my body back into golf shape," he says, his idea of golf shape being a 32-inch waist and gladiator glutes. "It's not the big muscles that you target, it's the little core muscles that give you stability and rotational speed." He grins. "It's work, but I wake up in the morning feeling great."
Evert, meanwhile, trains alongside her panting spouse, egging him on while adding redundant tone to a body borrowed from a Disney princess. "No surprise there," says David Dusek, an editor who used to help Evert pen instructionals for Tennis magazine and now works for Golf.com. Dusek remembers a summer in Aspen, Colo., some years ago, when Evert slipped on her tennis shoes and suggested a hike. "She was in her 40s, she's got three kids and it's 7,900 feet," he says, "but she literally jogged to the top of Aspen Mountain. Are you kidding me? I'm wheezing, she's running like Bambi."
Based upon what he's heard about the Shark, Dusek has no trouble imagining Greg and Chrissie tandem-treadmilling in a blissful state of glycogen deprivation. "I don't think either of them," he sums up, "does anything half-assed."
AND NOW, a day at the beach. She's in shorts, a tank top and sandals. He's in shorts, a black polo and flip-flops. "Can we lie on the sand for a couple of hours?" Evert asks, pulling her seat belt tight. "Do we have to rush back?" Norman, in the facing seat, merely smiles.
Sunlight from the starboard windows floods the cabin of N1GN, Norman's Gulfstream 550, as it rolls along the fenced perimeter at Palm Beach International Airport. She taps the screen of a pink-clad iPhone. He thumbs text on his BlackBerry. Across the aisle, Jason McCoy, senior vice president of Greg Norman Golf Course Design, paws through a shoulder bag at his booted feet.
"Ready, Greg?" The voice comes from the cockpit.
"Yeah, mate!" The engines roar, the plane surges, the grassy verge becomes a blur. A minute later the G 550 soars into cotton-ball clouds above the terra-cotta roofs of The Mar-a-Lago Club, banking south over the graduated blues of the Atlantic.