Normans Last Shot

By Associated PressApril 5, 2009, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. ' After all these years, Greg Norman still knows his way around Augusta National.
As late winter melted into spring, Norman found himself driving past the 61 Magnolia trees on both sides of the lane that leads to the clubhouse. Walking into the locker room, an attendant wrapped his arms around the Shark.
He came up and gave a big hug, Norman said. Like, Greg, welcome back. Weve missed you around here. So right from the locker room attendant to the spectators, Im sure its going to be positive.
Greg Norman
Greg Norman hopes to give his wife something to cheer about, as he did at last year's Open. (Getty Images)
That he can find many positives at Augusta National remains a mystery.
When the 54-year-old Norman plays the Masters for the 23rd time, he is sure to be greeted by memories at every turn. Most of them are worth forgetting.
Just beyond the live oak tree behind the clubhouse is the ninth green, where Normans wedge spun off the false front and down the steep slope to the fairway, a pivotal bogey during his final-round collapse against Nick Faldo in 1996. Next to that is the 18th green, where Norman was tied for the lead in 1986 until his 4-iron sailed into the gallery. His bogey gave Jack Nicklaus a sixth green jacket.
The 11th hole? Still vivid as ever.
Three weeks before the Sharks return to his favorite major, he was playing with an Augusta National member and two guests when they looked to the right of the green and asked where Larry Mize was when he chipped in for birdie to beat Norman in a playoff in 1987. No other major loss haunts him more.
As a matter of fact, when we played, the pin position was almost identical to where Larry chipped it in, Norman said. I said, Thats where he was. Now you go over there and try to hit that shot. It was one of those situations that sticks in your mind.
How could it not?
Norman did enough right to claim three green jackets, maybe four. Three times he was the runner-up, once in a playoff. His last chance came 10 years ago, when he was tied for the lead with four holes to play and never made another birdie, losing to Jose Maria Olazabal.
For the better part of a decade, Norman was the face of the Masters.
He is welcome everywhere ' except that locker room on the second floor of clubhouse reserved for Masters champions.
Its amazing, Tiger Woods said. For someone whos had such a great career and come so close, you almost feel like he has won the tournament ' even though he hasnt ' because hes been there so many times. I dont know how many second-place finishes, but hes been so close so many times. And its hard to believe hes not in the locker room.
Even more amazing is that Norman gets one last chance.
It took a fairy tale for him to get back to the Masters. Norman was on his honeymoon with tennis great Chris Evert last summer when he decided to turn up at Royal Birkdale for the British Open, where he is exempt until age 65 as a two-time champion. In the biggest surprise of the year, Norman stood on the 10th tee of the final round with a one-shot lead.
But he couldnt make it stand. Padraig Harrington shot 32 on the back nine to win the claret jug. Norman finished six shots behind, but his tie for third qualified him to return to the Masters.
After thinking about it for a few months, Norman couldnt pass up the opportunity.
Im going back because I love it, he said. I love playing there. I love the people there. I love the establishment there. Its just a good feeling for me.
Norman spent a Hall of Fame career losing more majors than he won, but never making any excuses, even when he blew a six-shot lead against Faldo in his most notorious runner-up finish at a major.
His last trip to the Masters was in 2002, when he received a special invitation. Norman tied for 36th that year, and most everyone figured the Shark would never be back.
Who could have guessed that seven years later, Norman would be playing the Masters and Faldo would not?
I think hell enjoy the emotion and Memory Lane, said Faldo, a three-time champion who stopped playing when he became the lead analyst for CBS Sports. He can hit it decent enough. I said to him, Lucky you still have a (putting) stroke. Youve got to feed the ball there. And hes still got that.
Can he cook up one last chance?
The odds are against him, not to mention the 7,435-yard course, a quarter-mile longer than when he last contended. Norman played it recently after it had rained, when the course had no roll, and he said that Bethpage Black felt like a pitch-and-putt compared with Augusta.
Then again, who could have predicted Birkdale?
I think if anyone ever deserves to win a Masters, its Greg Norman, said Robert Allenby, one of a dozen or so Australians inspired by the Great White Shark. And that would be a fairy tale, thats for sure, if he went out there this year and won it. But you know, it will be nice to see him there.
Thats the way Norman wants to approach his return.
Why go back?
He loves the golf course and wants to see the changes, which have transformed it into one of the toughest tests in golf. No one has come remotely close to the course record of 63 that he shares with Nick Price. Too, Norman wanted to share the week with Evert.
A couple of people really wanted me to go there, and Chrissie has never seen the Masters, Norman said. So to get her there and to see what I think is the greatest golf championship, and my favorite tournaments of all time, was another factor, as well.
His son, Gregory, will be his caddie.
Norman has never played Augusta National with so few expectations. Thats what he did at Royal Birkdale, although it helped that hardly anyone knew he was there until he showed up on the leaderboard throughout the weekend.
Ideally, he would treat this as another honeymoon ' even though his honeymoon with Augusta ended long ago.
I just want to make sure that everybody manages their expectations, he said. And I manage my expectations.
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    Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

    By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

    Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

    ''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

    Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

    Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

    Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

    ''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

    Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

    ''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

    Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

    ''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

    Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

    Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

    Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

    ''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

    In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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    Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

    By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

    ''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

    McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

    Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

    ''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

    Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

    ''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

    Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

    McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

    ''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

    McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

    McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

    McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

    Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

    ''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

    Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

    ''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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    Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

    By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

    The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

    Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

    Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

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    Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

    Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

    This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

    Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

    Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

    By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

    Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

    Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

    “You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

    It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

    Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

     “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”