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SPORTS WEEKEND | Golf

Shark's Days as Predator at End?

April 24, 1998|THOMAS BONK

You probably can't put a shark on a shelf, but never mind, that's where Greg Norman is probably going to be for the rest of the year, or at least until after the official money season ends. He had shoulder surgery Wednesday.

For Norman, the 43-year-old Australian best known for having won more money than any other golfer and for having lost more than his share of big tournaments, you have to ask if he's done in the big-time.

Norman missed the cut at the Masters for the second consecutive year and had at least one buddy wondering if the Shark's collapse in the 1996 Masters, in which he blew a six-shot lead to Nick Faldo on the last day, might have led to the shoulder problem.

"If he'd won that green jacket, you wonder whether he would have worked himself as hard over the last couple of years to get in the physical state he is," said Frank Nobilo, a close friend of Norman. "It probably caused the shoulder damage."

Norman, bothered by pain in his shoulder for more than six months, had arthroscopic surgery in Vail, Colo., and isn't expected to be back until probably his Shark Shootout in November at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. Doctors at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic repaired torn tissue and trimmed a bone spur.

Norman has won two British Open titles and 18 PGA Tour titles since he joined the tour in 1983. This week, he dropped out of the top three in the world rankings for the first time in five years. He is fourth, behind Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Davis Love III.

Nobilo isn't sure Norman will ever be the same.

"You wonder whether he'll ever regain those heights," Nobilo said. "Maybe we'll never see the best of Greg Norman, but we'll certainly see something very close.

"He's given his body to the game, taken a lot on the chin. He's trained like no athlete you've ever seen. I hope he comes back as quickly as possible [but] you wonder."

A NEW SHARK DESIGN

At least Norman will have plenty of time for his other projects, one of which is designing a course at PGA West.

The Greg Norman Course, which is expected to be open by December 1999, will be the sixth at the La Quinta layout. Norman joins Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Pete Dye and Tom Weiskopf as course designers at the KSL property.

Norman has designed 30 courses worldwide through his Great White Shark Enterprises company.

JUST PLAIN LOGO

We're not sure if this is a record, but Scott Hoch wore eight logos on his clothing at the Masters. There were four on his cap, two more on the front of his shirt and one on each sleeve.

The PGA Tour has no limit on the number or the size of corporate logos a player may wear on his clothing. The only rule is that the logos be in good taste.

Oh, and shorts aren't allowed and shirts must have collars.

DO THE LOGO-MOTION

Then there is the case of Bob Tway, who wears on his shirt sleeve the logo of Flonaise, a prescription medicine for allergies.

Thus, Tway has the only shirt on tour you can't buy over the counter.

WHAT DAY IS IT?

When Glen Day joined the PGA Tour in 1994, the first thing anybody noticed about him was how slowly he played. That led to his nickname, Glen "All" Day.

Anyway, Day has fast become a money-making machine this year. He is fifth on the money list with $753,806, which is more than Woods, Fred Couples, Els, Love and Phil Mickelson have earned.

In fact, Day has done so well lately--a tie for second at the Players Championship, a tie for third at New Orleans and a second place at Hilton Head, S.C.--he is now 12th in Presidents Cup points.

"That's not money, just points," he said. "The IRS is the only one who thinks of it as money."

OH, THAT GUY

The recognition factor still hasn't kicked in, though. Day was asked at Hilton Head if he was the guy who once lost a playoff in a tournament that had to be shortened to 36 holes.

"No, sir," Day said. "You must have been thinking of some other fat redneck."

WAITING FOR A DOUBLE

For what it's worth, there hasn't been a two-time winner so far this year. By this time last year, there were three--Woods, Mark O'Meara and Steve Elkington.

JUST CHECKING

Justin Leonard is the leading money winner on the PGA Tour with $1,040,800. Liselotte Neumann leads the LPGA Tour with $314,776, which would rank 33rd on the PGA Tour.

SOMETIMES ON SUNDAY

Until last Sunday at Hilton Head, where he finished with a 65, Love had been a poor closer. He had fourth rounds of 76 at Bay Hill, 80 at the Players, 75 at New Orleans and 78 at the Masters.

Still, Love's Sunday bests are tied for 112th on the PGA Tour. The top Sunday scoring average on tour belongs to Scott Simpson at 68.33.

THE SLIDING SCALE

Speaking of bad fourth rounds, Faldo's 12-over 83 at Hilton Head was his worst round of any kind in 219 PGA Tour events.

Faldo, who has won six majors, managed only nine pars on a windy day on the same course where he won his first tour event in 1984.

"I'm a little out of it," he said.

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