Norman blames '96 Masters loss on bad back


Seventeen years after authoring one of the most infamous collapses in golf history, Greg Norman has offered a reason for coughing up a seemingly insurmountable lead during the final round of the 1996 Masters: a bad back.

'There's more to it than people realize because I did have back issues that morning,' the Aussie explained in a televised interview with ABC's Australian Story. 'I tried to walk it off but I couldn't. I told my coach, 'Today's not going to be easy.''

Staked to a six-shot advantage after 54 holes, Norman stumbled to a final-round 78 to finish five shots behind playing partner Nick Faldo, who went on to claim his third career green jacket.

Though he already had two British Open titles to his credit by 1996, Norman made no qualms about his desire to become the first Australian to win the Masters, a feat accomplished earlier this year by countryman Adam Scott. For Norman, who was also a runner-up at the season's first major in both 1986 and 1987, the reality of his loss to Faldo proved difficult to bear.

'I disappeared down to the beach after the Masters and lay on the beach and cried,' he added, 'because I felt like I'd completely screwed up winning a tournament that I wanted to win.'