Like his hero Norman, Scott gracious in defeat

By Doug FergusonJuly 24, 2012, 6:18 pm

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – This year's British Open should be a proud moment for Greg Norman.

Sure, it was painful to watch Adam Scott throw away a four-shot lead with four holes to play, to walk away from Royal Lytham & St. Annes with a silver salver as the runner-up instead of the silver claret jug as the winner of his first major championship.

What should be mandatory viewing, however, is the hour that followed such a devastating loss.

Scott stood before a television camera with such composure that it looked like the interview had taken place a week after his meltdown, not just minutes after the Australian signed a scorecard that showed four bogeys on the last four holes for a 75.

''It wasn't to be,'' he said. ''That's golf, isn't it?''

Then, he was whisked away to the media center and answered every question with clarity and honesty and without excuses. As he stepped outside, he met with four Australian reporters - one who was in London for the Olympics and came over to Lytham to see Australia's first major champion in six years - and answered many of the same questions. When it was over, Scott reached out to shake their hands without prompting.

For Scott to be linked with Norman is to be expected - Scott said so himself. Norman lost far more majors than he won through a combination of bad golf and bad luck. To no one's surprise, it was that six-shot lead he squandered at the 1996 Masters that came up more than once on Sunday.

But if comparisons are to be made, don't stop with the last putt.

''Greg was my hero when I was a kid, and I thought he was a great role model, how he handled himself in victory and defeat,'' said Scott, who wept in front of the TV as a teenager when the Shark blew up at Augusta National against Nick Faldo.

''He set a good example for us,'' Scott said. ''It's tough. You don't want to sit here and have to ... I can't justify anything that I've done out there. I didn't finish the tournament well today. But next time ... I'm sure there will be a next time, and I can do a better job of it.''

Norman was headed this week to the Senior British Open at Turnberry, where he won his lone major of 1986 after being the 54-hole leader in all four majors. That became known as the ''Saturday Slam,'' except that Norman was the one who more often than not got slammed.

The only player to lose all four majors in a playoff in stroke play. The Masters meltdown. Losing a four-shot lead in the PGA Championship to Bob Tway, who holed out a bunker shot on the 72nd hole to beat him. Missing a 4-foot par putt in a playoff to lose another PGA to Paul Azinger. Twice going into the final round at Shinnecock Hills with his name atop the U.S. Open leaderboard only to close with 75 one time and 73 another.

The most famous, of course, is the Masters. No one has ever lost more than a six-shot lead in a major except for Norman at Augusta National. He wound up five shots behind Faldo, who years later revealed what he shared with the Shark as they embraced on the 18th green.

''Don't let the (critics) get you down.''

Ernie Els offered a similar message to Scott during a quiet moment they shared before the trophy presentation.

''He said he felt for me and not to beat myself up,'' Scott said. ''He said he beat himself up a little bit when he'd lost or had a chance to win. And he felt I'm a great player, and I can go on to win majors, which is nice. We have a close friendship. We've had some good battles in the past, and it's nice to hear that from him. I respect Ernie a lot, and he's a player who is a worthy champion here for sure.''

Scott thought so highly of Norman that he tried to follow in his steps, starting his career in Europe and wanting to be on the roll call of champions at all the tournaments Norman won. When he turned pro, the comparisons were with Tiger Woods because of Scott's pure swing that was honed while working with Butch Harmon. He even briefly hired as a caddie the brother of Steve Williams, who spent a dozen years working for Woods.

Being compared with Norman can be twisted into a joke. But few players were better at handling defeat than Norman, perhaps because he had so much practice.

Then again, Scott has carried himself with dignity for his entire career. When he was in a slump three years ago, missing seven cuts over eight tournaments, he took the criticism in stride and answered every question, even after he shot an 81.

Golf is filled with gracious losers. That's the nature of the sport. There was Mike Reid at the 1989 PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson at five U.S. Opens, a British Open and a PGA Championship. Who could forget Mickelson at Winged Foot when he took double bogey on the 18th hole of the final round to lose by one shot and said, ''I am such an idiot.''

And, of course, there was Norman.

''I screwed up. I really screwed up,'' Norman said right after he threw away the Masters.

Els walks away from this Open with his fourth major championship. Scott limped away, hopeful he won't have to wait another decade to play in the final group at a major. Perhaps another player can be added to the memories at Royal Lytham - Norman, who by example showed a teenager from Queensland that losing with dignity is half the battle.

Before his 2001 induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Norman said his resilience was his strength.

''What's done is done,'' he said ''You cannot change history, even though you want to blame yourself for some and blame history for others. I've never really dwelled in the past.''

Scott would do well to follow that advice, too.

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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”