Greg Norman revisits Augusta in 30 for 30 as golf world sweats on rebel tour of Saudi Arabia

Greg Norman has bared his soul to the tortured near-misses of his checkered career, but a cryptic tweet from a golf analyst suggests more pain of a different kind lies ahead.

One of Norman’s most admirable qualities as a player was facing the media and looking reporters straight in the eye after the good, bad and heartbreaking moments of a career in which he was the best. golfer in the world for a staggering 331 weeks, but has only won two major tournaments.

The shark once again donned its crocodile skin in a fascinating ESPN 30 for 30 documentary airing in Australia on Wednesday night.

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Camera iconGreg Norman was featured in a documentary about the highs and lows of his career… but there was no mention of the rebel golf tour in Saudi Arabia. Credit: Provided

He revisited Augusta National to relive the excruciating series of doomed closed calls in the US Masters, including being foiled by a chip Larry Mize in 1987 and, more infamously, the 1996 Masters where he surrendered a six-man lead. blows on the last day to Nick Faldo.

Square-jawed as always, but with glassy eyes and the occasional deep swallow sign of deeper emotions, Norman was as philosophical as anyone could be after being struck by lightning so many times. But the pain was still evident as he watched television footage of his collapse in the face of Faldo for the first time.

Greg Norman falls to his knees at the 1996 Masters in Augusta
Camera iconThe 30 for 30 doco revisited the pain of Norman’s Augusta collapse in 1996. Stephen Munday/Allsport. Credit: Provided

The backdrop to the show was that Norman became a despised figure among mainstream golf circles after being the leader of a rebel Saudi World Tour project.

The project was still in the process of crystallizing when a wide range of analysts and contemporaries were interviewed for the documentary which contained no mention of the hugely controversial project.

Former PGA Tour professional turned analyst Brandel Chamblee was interviewed but tweeted a clarification before it went live.

“I was asked to be part of this before I knew Greg was going to be an accomplice for the Saudis,” Chamblee wrote.

“What’s important to notice on this show is the absent voices that wouldn’t be talking about him.”

The only gap in the list of interviewees is any current player reflecting on Norman’s influence on his career.

These are precisely the signings that Norman is pursuing and – currently – unable to land for the rebel tour.

Haven’t they been approached? Did they know the storm was coming and decided to keep their heads under the parapet?

With the elephant not in the room, parts of the show were enhanced as they set the stage for a deep and beautifully absorbing dive into the emotional wreckage of a career that the great Tom Watson called “snakebite.” ” for all nearby star crusaders. lack.

But it also left the biggest questions in world golf unanswered. How can Norman start a mega-rich rebel tour of England in June when only one PGA Tour player (Robert Garrigus) has asked permission to join them?

How does he feel about being criticized by the likes of Rory McIlroy for his association with the Saudi government, with its appalling human rights record?

Nick Faldo, Greg Norman
Camera iconViewers of the documentary couldn’t have been wiser of the Rebel League, seeing instead how Norman botched the 1996 Masters. AP Photo. Credit: Provided

For viewers of the documentary, all of that would have been forgotten, as many gripping secret stories of Norman’s disappearance were uncovered for the first time.

How his confidence was shaken when he walked past a bar when six shots preceded his third round in 1996 and an English reporter joked ‘couldn’t you even fuck that.’

How spooked he was that his private jet was sent out to pick people up for the long-awaited victory party before he even left in the third round.

How he phoned the tournament broadcasters on the last morning to complain that one of their broadcasters was predicting he would choke and how he still has two fan mail boxes at home from people praising the way he is is driven after the collapse.

“I was lucky and I was unlucky,” Norman said.

“What happened in ’96 is history and I’m okay with that now. It stung for quite a while, but I can talk about it openly and emotionally now.”

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