Did the gods of golf really set Greg Norman apart for misfortune?

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In recent years, it has become fashionable for sports documentaries to include an element of self-awareness, where the protagonist watches footage of his own victories and disasters. Facial reactions in these areas often say that the analysis of the head that spoke for more than an hour could never. The image of the Last Dance of 2020. For the series, which premieres in the United States on Tuesday night, directed by Jason Heir (who also directed “The Last Dance”), Thomas Odelfelt replaces the tablet with a laptop that sits open on a small side table next to Greg Norman.

The Australian never watched the infamous final of the 1996 Masters, where he refused six shots to hand over his green jacket to arch-rival Nick Faldo. Shark. And when the footage of that fabulous drowning, who is still the biggest leader ever in the PGA Tour in recent days, starts spinning on a laptop, you soon begin to understand why. The pain of every moment, every hook, every moment, the moment of self-confidence is still great with him, 25 years later.

We see that he puts the green with three on the 11th hole; we see that he approaches shortly with his approach shot at 12, finding the water և ends up with a double stature. we see Norman restless on the ground again after an eagle chip on the 15th kisses the lip of the hole and then rolls wide. And then we see Norman, who is silently following, transferring the weight to the chair, his eyes closed, swallowing his sighs. “My life today would be different if I had a green jacket.” Norman asks a rhetorical question after the play of the last stage is over. “No. It would be nice to have my title, but it would not change a part of my life. ” This is the least convincing line in the whole film.

The collapse of Norman’s last day in August may now be the subject of a sports legend, but what is probably less well remembered is the rich story of the recent failure that preceded the 1996 drama. his talent in 1981 Taking fourth place in the Masters, his first lap around the Holy Grail of Augusta. Norman’s Scandinavian mop, shiny pants, upright posture, easy swing և attack commitment made him instantly recognizable during training. His rugged Australian background (nicknamed the “Shark” that has long been associated with his childhood growing up in the wilds of far northern Queensland) made him a bestseller, capturing the jealousy of less-than-charismatic golfers when big money first appeared in sports. The commercial thirst of individual players was high. “Norman wanted to ‘master’ the sport ‘on the golf course, off the golf course,'” Faldo said.

Related: My favorite game is Nick Faldo v Greg Norman, 1996 Masters | Yuen Murray

By 1986, his goal was almost complete. Golf observers began to think of the Australian as the natural heir of the previous generation of greats, especially Jack Nicklaus և, possibly even as a player who could climb Mount Everest և to win all four majors in one year. Norman led all four majors in 1986 after three rounds; In the British Open, except for one, he collapsed on the last day and became runner-up. That year he established his reputation as a maestro with 54 holes, who could not do it in the 18th final, and the next year he strengthened it. In the 1987 Masters playoffs, Larry Moose snatched the incredible chip from roughness to get away from Norman. With a 45-foot kick to keep the competition alive. It deviated widely. “I went home and cried on the beach,” Norman says now. “All these questions go through your head for months and months. Why should I put green in the middle and have 20 feet instead of 45 feet? [for Mize]. Those things haunted me for a long time. ”

There is a story that Norman was “bitten by a snake”, who was destined for a unique ill-fated fortune, losing in a series of incredible shots in major tournaments. In addition to the Mize chip, there was the Bob Twain bunker, which was filmed at the 1986 PGA Championships; hole in 1990 at the Zurich Classical Concert in New Orleans. The shark does well in these miraculous shots in context, showing the three Norman boys on the nineties that preceded the Mize chip, the nineties of 40 that he painted to give Twain victory in 1986, and so on. Norman spent most of his playing days confirming the parable of the serpent. “I’m a kind of fatalist, I think everything happens for a reason,” he told former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke in a 1993 television interview. Today he seems more reasonable. “You control your own destiny, you do your job,” he said. “You can not control what others do. You can not influence what other people do. The only effect you can have is what you do with yourself, with your shoes, with your golf clubs, with your score. ” And yet, this hour of Norman’s presence never dispels the feeling that he still feels, to some degree, that the golf gods have chosen him for a special category of misfortune.

Nick Faldo եգ Greg Norman relegated from 18th place after the 1996 Masters

Nick Faldo և Greg Norman is out of the 18th place after the 1996 Masters. Photo by Dave Martin / Associated Press

The fun of a documentary like this is not just the experience of experiencing all these collapses with Norman. He is eloquent about the high scores, the moments when he clicked everything in the last rounds of charging. For example. when he was born in 1986. On the last day of the Masters, he pushed out four birds in a row to recover from a disastrous start and stretched his spit away from Niklaus. “You just have this freedom of thought, you’re happy, you just want to go,” says Norman. “You trust yourself, your pendulum is free, your mind is free, you see these shots, you make them. If you want, you can even hit a leaf on the top of a tree! ”

Norman lost to Nicklaus, 15 years his senior, in that final hole that day. But the connection between the two golfers, the avatars of two adjacent generations, is particularly striking in Shark. In 1986, at Turnberry, Nicklaus offered Norman “critical” advice of the last day, which helped the Australian overcome the nerves that had accumulated following the collapse of two major tournaments by squeezing his first major tournament (Greg, think only of violent pressure tomorrow. Think about your compression pressure »). And he was there again to help Norman during the fall of the early 1990s, advising him to train and play “on purpose.” yourself? Or do you have a goal? ” Norman flew to Canada the following week եց broke the 27-month PGA Tour by winning the Canadian Open.

“He was like my father, my brother, my tutor,” says Norman. Faldo, a more conservative, less charismatic opponent who finished his career with six majors than Norman’s two, is also big in the rankings, and the real contrast is not between the players of the past, but the two men as they are today. Faldo has softened. in the happy Middle Ages, while Norman remains as comfortable as in his playing days.

He has a lot to be thankful for. His post-gaming career, from golf course to winemaking, to his recent efforts to start a highly regarded Asian professional tour with the support of much-criticized Saudi Arabia, has been particularly lucrative. But Shark leaves us with the feeling that something is still missing, an emptiness inside that pushes Norman forward. Many of the film’s most memorable scenes show Norman returning to Augusta today, playing 18 holes alone, reinforcing the feeling that his biggest rival is not Faldo or Niklaus, but himself. At the age of 67, Norman still looks as elegant as he is luxurious. the posture is just as firm, the pendulum is free. Under the gray sky, through a completely empty process, he repeats all the shots of his 1986, 1987 և 1996 collapses և perfect performance. What if?

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