Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Shark

Photo by Stuart Franklin

Once upon a time, I was a big golf fan. I followed every tournament, every round, for quite a while. My interest arose from the fact that Brad Faxon, a PGA tour player, was from my home town in Rhode Island. He and my brother Mike knew each other (Mike is a good amateur golfer himself, and has won several amateur tournaments and even played in the US MidAmateur and the US Amateur!), so there was a feeling that I knew Brad. In the early 80s, he played in - and won - a PGA Tournament here in Chattanooga, and I followed him around several days. At one point, I introduced myself to him, and he greeted me warmly each time I saw him - even at other tournaments in Atlanta and Boston.

And that was how I fell for Greg Norman. Brad was in the lead in a tournament in the DC Area, and Norman came out of nowhere to win it. It was one of the Shark's first US appearances - before his famous showdown with Fuzzy Zoeller at the Master's - and he was such a glamorous and exciting player to watch. He played without calculation, naturally, all by instinct and talent. The fact that he so spectacularly lost so many major tournaments endeared him even more to me. (See how my love of the then- lovably losing Red Sox bled over into other sports?!)

Eventually, he faded from public view, took on business interests and limited his playing appearances. But I kept up with him, mainly because my niece works for Reebok as a buyer for the Greg Norman clothing line. She would drop me tidbits occasionally - Greg called and ordered some shirts - which was fun.

So I was so pleased to see him play well this weekend at the British Open. ABC called it a blast from the past or a throwback performance - who cares. He played really well, and showed that he can still play on such a large stage. On the heels of Rocco Mediate's performance at the US Open, it's been a fun summer for those of us old enough to remember golf BEFORE Tiger. To reminded some of the bandwagoners that there have been many, many talented players who captured the hearts of golf fans over the years.

And if this means the Shark is going to start playing in a few more events, Yahoo!

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Blogger HorshamScouse said...

I watched more of the Open than I've done for some time, partly because it was played at Royal Birkdale, about 10 miles from where I grew up. Sort of got nostalgic seeing the weather on the first two days.

Norman's record is something like 1 and 9 when leading after 54 holes. Despite his earnings, sort of unfulfilled somehow.:(

12:31 AM  

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