Monday, July 21, 2008

How Many Majors Has Greg Norman Blown?

It's a question that is making the rounds today, apparently. Gene Wojciechowski at got the fun started by saying that Norman had blown 9 majors (or near misses). Then, Bill Jempty figured he would take a crack at that tally himself. He came up with 13. I went over both lists and came up with up to 14.

Here's my combo list:

Norman lead 8 times leading a major after 54 holes - won once - 7 near misses:

  • 2008 British Open T-3
  • 1996 Masters 2
  • 1995 U.S. Open 2
  • 1993 PGA 2
  • 1986 PGA 2
  • 1986 U.S. Open T-12
  • 1986 Masters T-2
(By the way, how good was his 1986? A near Grand Slam? Reminds me of Tiger's 2005 campaign.)

Then you have the times that Norman finished 2nd, but didn't have the 54 hole lead:
  • 1989 British Open
  • 1987 Masters
  • 1984 US Open
You now have 10 instances. Then there are some more obscure ones that Jempty found that are more borderline:
  • Norman missed a playoff at the 89 Masters by one shot, Greg finishing tied for 3rd.
  • Norman opened the 1999 Masters, one shot behind eventual winner Jose Maria Olazabel. Norman played in the final group with Olazabel.
  • Here’s an obscure one, Norman finished 4th at the 1981 Masters. 3 shots behind Tom Watson. He opened the final 3rd in 3rd place, and just two back. I can’t say for certain, but there is a good chance Norman was playing with Watson on Sunday in 1981. The Masters used to pair players 1-3, 2-4, 5-7, 6-8. They did that till at least 1979 that I know for certain.
  • Another obscure one- 1982 PGA. Greg Norman entered the final round tied for 2nd.
So, at maximum, we have 14 chances blown by Norman. No less than 10. That's pretty crazy. Good sleuth work from Bill Jempty.


Bill-DC said...

One of two golfers to lose all four majors in playoffs. The ones I can remember are:

1984 US Open
1987 Masters
1989 British Open
1993 PGA


Rob Turner said...

I was just going through Chris Evert’s record and although her CV looks far more impressive, she has as many 18 grand slam victories to her credit she finished as a runner up in as many 16 other grand slams. Now that is a huge tally. Can we also put that in the list of chances she blew away?

When one thinks about Greg Norman’s record the major that really comes to mind is the 1987 Masters where he famously lost to Larry Mize in playoff. In that, poor Greg could not have done anything about that. Just when it looked like he had sealed a win for himself at Augusta, there was Larry Mize chipping in from nearly 80 yards away to snatch the title from him. The interesting part was that there was no way that Larry Mize would have managed to hold the ball anywhere near the pin because the green would have definitely taken the ball away. So he really had no chance but luck was with him.

It would be terribly unfair if people many years down the line say that Greg Norman blew his chance at the 2008 Open. After all at 53 he was just supposed to be one of the celebrity names in the field. For him to have had a serious shot at the championship was a great achievement in itself.