Two British Titles, Many Failures
Norman was raised in Mount Isa, Queensland, an Australian mining town, and caddied for his mother for six years. He earned his first professional victory in 1976, his first year as a pro, when he captured the West Lakes Classic outside Adelaide. He won about 20 tournaments overseas before his first victory in the United States, the Kemper Open outside Washington, D.C. in 1984.
His first disappointment in a major tournament came two weeks later at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York. After forcing an 18-hole playoff with a 40-foot putt-inducing Fuzzy Zoeller to wave a white "surrender" handkerchief-he shot 5-over par in the playoff and lost to Zoeller.
Norman won his first major title, in 1986, when he captured the British Open. He rode a second-round 63 to a five-stroke victory at Turnberry, but he blew the other three majors in what Flatter called the "Saturday Slam." (Golf tournaments hold the next-to-last rounds on Saturdays). In the Masters, it was less of a Norman fold than a Jack Nicklaus charge. Nicklaus was in ninth place entering the last 18 holes and shot a 30 on the back nine holes; still, Norman fell to Nicklaus by missing a 15-foot putt on the final hole.
At Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y. that summer, Norman fell all the way to 12th with a 5-over-par 75 the last day as Ray Floyd became the oldest U.S. Open champion. He also stumbled at the PGA Championship at Inverness in Toledo, Ohio, ending with a 76. Tway won with an against-all-odds chip shot from a greenside bunker and prevailed by two strokes.
Ironically, Norman engineered one of the great final rounds in major championship history when he took the 1993 British at Royal St George's. Starting the last day one stroke behind co-leaders Faldo and Corey Pavin, Norman shot a 6-under par 64 to offset a 67 by defending champion Faldo. Norman triumphed by two strokes. "Yeah, I would like to say I beat Bob Tway. I would like to say I beat Larry Mize and those other guys, too," Norman said. "I didn't. But I hung around, and I came back."