The most tragic figure in sports today is the luckless golfer
Greg Norman, who has now lost more majors than Colonel Klink.
His second-place finish to Corey Pavin at last month's U.S. Open
means he's now on the brink of an infamous achievement: If he's
the runner-up at the British Open in two weeks, Norman will have
finished second twice in every major, thereby completing the
dreaded double Silver Slam. We decided to drop in on him and his
wife, Laura, at their house on Jupiter Island, Fla., to see how
they are coping with such abject failure.
Greg: I'm not sure I can go on, honey. This one might have
completely defeated me. More of the Dom?
Laura: Lovely. And to think you told the press at Shinnecock
that you wouldn't lose a minute's sleep over it.
Greg: To reveal my true sense of inner despair would be
devastating. How can I let them know how shattered I am to
receive yet another humiliating second-place paycheck? I almost
refused the $207,000, I really did. Any more beluga?
Laura: Certainly. And you know, what's so sad is that people
think all the money you've won heals the wounds. As though
nearly $9 million in worldwide career winnings and 67 victories
in 13 countries can somehow repair your shattered self-esteem.
Greg: Do they think mere vaults full of cash can fill up the
emptiness within me? Shall we take a Ferrari or a Bentley to the
polo match this afternoon?
Laura: Depends. Which Ferrari? We have seven now, sweetheart.
Greg: The Dino CT's back? Splendid. Not that it brings me any joy.
Laura: Of course it doesn't. And don't forget how your premature
pushing of the ill-fated World Tour last winter lost you the
respect of many lower-rung PGA Tour professionals. What could
you have been thinking, wanting to pit the world's best players
against each other, week after week, at the world's best golf
courses? How could you be so selfish?
Greg: I don't know. I can only blame it on the life of quiet
desperation I now lead. Have you seen Winthrop? I'm done on this
side now. I'm ready to be flipped.
Laura: He was in the billiards wing last I saw him. And to think
that there are people who believe that winning the Memorial and
the Greater Hartford last month could somehow replace the sting
of that U.S. Open defeat. Those tournaments can't mean anything
to you, although they were on network television and have nearly
the same fields as the so-called majors, which was only a
concept invented by a hungover sportswriter hurting for a
Greg: Psssssh. They mean less to me than the lowliest amoeba
clinging to our 90-foot yacht docked in our private marina. Sail
Laura: Love to. And just because you made $781,780 during the
month of June -- which would've led the Tour in season earnings
every year until 1987 -- doesn't mean you wouldn't trade it for
a single PGA Championship won in, say, Tulsa.
Greg: Of course not. But do you know what the hardest thing to
live with is? Knowing I have disappointed the golf writers with
my many failures at the key moments, though my Sunday round of
64 to win the British Open two years ago wasn't exactly
Hattiesburg. Enjoy the cruise?
Laura: You were sweet to book the entire liner. Kathie Lee was a
wonderful hostess. And, sure, you have contended more in the
majors than any player since Nicklaus -- but you haven't won like
him, and therefore you've lost the media's admiration. Nothing
can make up for that.
Greg: I will never know inner peace. Is the jet ready for
tomorrow? I'm so looking forward to Wimbledon.
Laura: The Gulfstream?
Greg: No, the big one.
Laura: The crew just waxed it.
Laura: And do you think that just because most men long to be
you for a day and most women long to be with you for even an
hour, it brings you any satisfaction? Just because that image
brings you $9 million per year in endorsements, is there any
consolation in that?
Greg: Of course not. It all rings so vapid and hollow. Want to
go play a quick nine at my new course?
Laura: How about in a while? Pancho is giving me a tennis
lesson. I hope it can take my mind off all this. I'm honestly
not sure I can go on.
Greg: Darling, I'm afraid I can think of only one desperate
measure that will bring us both any kind of peace.
Laura: The villa in St. Kitts?
Greg: I'll get the chopper.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: EVANGELOS VIGLIS [Man and woman sitting in lounge chairs surrounded by luxury items]