Greg Nor­man

THE GREAT WHITE SHARK HAD NEVER CRIED ON A GOLF COURSE… UN­TIL HE WALKED DOWN THE 18 THIN THE FI­NAL ROUND OF THE OPEN IN 1986.

Inside Sport - - MY FINEST MOMENT - – Steve Keipert

FOR all his many de­feats – both heart­break­ing and by his own hands – Greg Nor­man still de­liv­ered an as­ton­ish­ing ar­ray of vic­to­ries dur­ing a dom­i­nant ca­reer. His ban­ner sea­son came 30 years ago when Nor­man topped the US PGA Tour mon­eylist and claimed 11 titles in five coun­tries. Most no­table in 1986 was Nor­man’s Satur­day Slam, the some­what du­bi­ous hon­our of lead­ing all four ma­jors with 18 holes re­main­ing. He came to The Open Cham­pi­onship hav­ing lost the Masters to Jack Nick­laus’ epic wind-back-the-clock mo­ment, and handed away a volatile US Open at Shin­necock Hills. Yet what took place along Scot­land’s craggy western shore­line that July was Nor­man’s vir­tu­oso per­for­mance. Nos­tal­gia is o en a funny thing. The 2016 golf ma­jors sea­son has be­gun in earnest, which puts my most ac­com­plished year on the pro­fes­sional tour three decades in the rear-view mir­ror. To say that time flies would be an un­der­state­ment.

By all ac­counts 1986 was an epic year. I claimed 11 world­wide vic­to­ries, in­clud­ing four wins in Aus­tralia, two US PGA Tour events and my first ma­jor cham­pi­onship win at The Open at Turn­berry. It was also the year of the Satur­day Slam, when I led all four ma­jors a er 54 holes – a feat that has not since been re­peated.

This was a huge state­ment to the golf world and a tes­ta­ment to my com­mit­ment to the game. I proved that I had the tal­ent and de­ter­mi­na­tion to play and win at the high­est level, any­where in the world.

Although it doesn’t seem like 30 years ago, look­ing back, each mo­ment still res­onates with me. I loved ev­ery sec­ond of it. There is a mini-story within each story, a story be­hind ev­ery shot. I can still re­mem­ber what it felt like to be in each mo­ment. But with­out doubt the high­light came on the west coast of Scot­land that July.

The bru­tal weather re­ally stands out to me from the ’86 Open Cham­pi­onship at Turn­berry. But I took ad­van­tage of my driv­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and played re­ally ag­gres­sively. Dur­ing my prac­tice round I saw that the course set-up and con­di­tions would play to my strengths, so I had an es­tab­lished game plan from the sec­ond I set foot on the course.

I’ve never cried on a golf course before, but walk­ing down the 18th hole in the fi­nal round at Turn­berry, I was fight­ing to hold back the tears a er my sec­ond shot. When I hit my ap­proach, the peo­ple went crazy. That’s the dom­i­nant re­flec­tion I have from winning the 115th Open Cham­pi­onship, the peo­ple.

Walk­ing down the 18th was, in a word, over­whelm­ing. A er com­ing ag­o­nis­ingly close at the Masters and US Open ear­lier that year, the frus­tra­tions of the pre­vi­ous ma­jors were washed away. It was only when I had that won­der­ful old lov­ing Claret Jug in my hands that I con­vinced my­self I had truly and ir­re­vo­ca­bly won. But the true re­ward is the emo­tion of the mo­ment – the emo­tions of the spec­ta­tors, of my friends, of the other play­ers like Jack Nick­laus and Fuzzy Zoeller and many oth­ers, and all the other peo­ple who got wrapped up in it just as much as I did.

The emo­tion, to me, was one of the great­est parts of winning The Open be­cause I had never before ex­pe­ri­enced it to that de­gree.

“When I hit my ap­proach, the peo­ple went crazy.”

McEwen stead­ies af­ter tak­ing a tum­ble in An­twerp in 2009.

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