August 15, 1993, 30 years ago today: Greg Norman completes a “Grand Slam” of playoff losses by lipping out his putt on the PGA Championship’s second sudden death playoff hole, giving Paul Azinger the title at Inverness in Toledo, OH. Norman also lost playoffs in golf’s other three majors—the 1984 US Open, the 1987 Masters, and the 1989 British Open. Some consolation for “The Shark”: he had won his second British Open a month before the PGA Championship unraveling. Norman was attempting to become the first player to win the Open Championship and PGA Championship in the same year since Walter Hagen in 1924, but it was not to be.
Norman had other legendary collapses, notably at the 1996 Masters when he blew a six-shot lead and lost to Nick Faldo. A missed chip for eagle on No. 15 had famously brought Norman to his knees in that tournament. He kind of had to relive that in April when Brooks Koepka was overcome by Jon Rahm in the 2023 Masters. Koepka had been just the 12th player in history to be 12-under or better through 36 holes in any major. Of the 11 players who’d preceded him, nine went on to win their respective tournaments. Norman was the only one who didn’t, failing twice.
An old ESPN story by Ron Flatter summed up Norman’s career in majors: “Much the same way as Bill Buckner and Scott Norwood are remembered for singular plays, Norman’s good name is underscored by eye-popping failures. Norman has not won a major championship in the United States, where he has amassed most of his personal fortune through the marketing of his ‘Shark’ brand name. In 1986, Norman won only one major despite leading all four tournaments after three rounds, inspiring one wag to say Norman had achieved the ‘Saturday Slam.’”
Today, Norman is best known as the driving force for the controversial LIV Tour, criticized to this day as a sportswashing vehicle for the Saudi government and its human rights abuses and 9/11 ties. He has been mostly in the shadows since the bombshell June 6 announcement that the PGA and LIV tours would merge. Reports last month said Norman will be fired from his post as LIV Golf CEO should the PGA Tour’s agreement with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) be signed, sealed and delivered.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)