Thursday, July 18, 2013

Feeding Frenzy

The 142nd British Open started today at Muirfield, a privately owned course in Scotland.

Greg Norman (aka The Great White Shark) never won the British Open when it was played at Muirfield. He won his two British Opens at Royal St. George's Golf Club in Sandwich, Kent, England, the last time on this day 20 years ago. It was quite a sight to see.

In that 1993 edition of the Open, Norman set the aggregate score record for the four–day tournament with a total of 267. That's a daily average of 66.75. Pretty impressive, huh? Yep — but not as impressive as Norman's final round.

At the end of the first day of the tournament, Norman was tied for first with three other golfers at four–under par 66.

He shot a two–under par the second day but slipped to a tie for third behind Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer. Faldo, who was three strokes off the lead when the day began, recorded a seven–under par 63 that day.

Nevertheless, Norman made the cut, which former British Open winners Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Sandy Lyle and Tony Jacklin — all of whom were at least four–over par when the day ended — did not.

After the third round, in which Norman fired a one–under par 69, he was only one stroke behind the co–leaders, Faldo and Corey Pavin.

And that set up a truly remarkable final round.

On that last day, Norman shot a 64, his best day of the four, and secured his aggregate record, but, as Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated observed, it went down to the wire for him. Norman, who finished before Faldo did, was all too well acquainted with finishing second, and, until Faldo wrapped up his final round, "the trapdoor could still open."

He could not permit himself to relax and enjoy his accomplishment until Faldo was in the clubhouse.

That trapdoor did not open on him this time. Faldo shot a 67 and finished two strokes behind Norman. Langer, who also shot a 67, finished third, one stroke behind Faldo.

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