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GOLF / DAN HAFNER : Half of a Grand Slam Would Be Quite a Feat for Norman

August 01, 1993|DAN HAFNER

The original Grand Slam of golf was the British Open and Amateur and the U.S. Open and Amateur. In 1930, after winning all four in the same year, Bobby Jones, with no more worlds to conquer, retired.

With the growth of professional golf, the Grand Slam evolved to the British and U.S. Opens, the Masters and the PGA.

Not only has nobody won all four in the same year, only Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus have accomplished the feat in a lifetime. It eluded Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead. Winning two in a year is considered an outstanding achievement.

After winning the British Open last month, Greg Norman is shooting for half a slam. The Australian who resides in Florida will get his chance in the PGA Championship Aug. 12-15 at Inverness Country Club in Toledo, Ohio. After his brilliant performance in England, he will be a favorite. Masters winner Bernhard Langer and U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen will be among his challengers.

Norman took a couple of weeks off but will play in the Buick Open at Inverness in Grand Blanc, Mich., next week.

"I'm not thinking about any half a grand slam," Norman said by phone from his home in Florida. "I just like Inverness. I won't let any one shot bother me. I just want to win another tournament."

Norman, who has won almost $11 million in tournaments around the world, is coming off what he called the best 18 holes of golf he ever played, the 64 in the final round of the British Open.

"It's the only round I ever played in which I didn't mis-hit a single shot," he said. "I never before had a round in which I didn't hit at least one poor shot. On the 15th, I made a poor decision on club selection, but the hit was good."

Norman had trouble on two putts. One, on the seventh at Royal St. George's, didn't climb the hill and came back to him. Then on the 17th, with a three-shot lead, he missed a 14-inch putt for par.

Was he afraid ghosts were back to haunt him? "I wasn't," he said, "but a lot of people were. I knew I had a two-stroke lead, so I wasn't worried.

"It would have been nice to tell people I shot a 62 on the last round of the British Open. But more important, I beat the best golfers in the world."

In 1990 when he was the leading money-winner with more than $1 million, Norman was ranked with the best in the world. But he went into a deep decline. For 27 months, the Great White Shark didn't win a tournament. He blew a couple of big leads in some and was a victim of some incredible finishes in others.

The drought ended with his victory in the Canadian Open last September in a playoff with Bruce Lietzke. Even before, though, Norman had shown he was back. He had eight top-10 finishes in 16 events last year.

He has been even better this year. Although his only victory in 10 tour events was in the Doral Open in March, Norman is third on the money list with more than $818,000. The British Open is not a PGA Tour event.

When he was at a low ebb in 1991, Norman went to Houston teaching pro Butch Harmon.

"What he did was just get me back to the golf swing I had used to win some 60 tournaments around the world," Norman said. "When I returned to the old swing, it started producing results. Now, I feel I am all the way back."

Norman's next appearance in Southern California will be for one of his pet projects, the Franklin Fund Shark Shootout. The fifth annual event will be held at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks in November.

Golf Notes

A record 442 filed entries for the 93rd U.S. Women's Amateur Championship, which will be held at the San Diego Country Club Aug. 9--14. Qualifying at numerous courses, including Hillcrest Country Club last week, cut the field to 144. Last year's champion Vicki Goetze has turned pro. . . . Two of the top veterans on the LPGA tour, former champions Nancy Lopez and Pat Bradley, have entered the LPGA event at Los Coyotes the last week in September.

More than 200 youngsters are expected to compete in the 13th annual Western States Golf Assn. junior championships at Griffith Park Aug. 10-13. Advanced juniors, both boys and girls, will play at Harding and Wilson courses, intermediates play at Roosevelt and beginners play at Jack Thompson course in Jessie Owens Park. . . . The eighth annual Summer Classic, to benefit the Omega Psi Phi scholarship fund, will be held Aug. 27 at Montebello Country Club.

When Bob Hope received a colorfully wrapped basket of new golf balls from the Valencia Country Club to honor his 90th birthday, the comedian's immediate comment was, "Somebody please put them in my room. I want to count them." . . . The seventh annual Long Beach Poly High benefit will be held Monday, Aug. 9 at El Dorado Park in Long Beach.

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