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Original Issue

Master Of His Fate

Get me Missing Persons. This Greg Norman they're trying to palm
off on us is a fake. A fraud. A phony.

They're feeding him lines we know he'd never say. For instance,
last week at the Masters, this so-called Norman said, "Hey, I'm
not in a rush anymore."

Not in a rush? Are you kidding? The real Greg Norman's whole
life is a rush! The Ferraris, the G-5, the helicopters! Invite
this guy for a barbecue, he parasails over!

So where is he? I mean, whoever this imposter is, he needs work.
For instance, last Saturday he came to the 12th hole and became
the first leader in Masters history not to be able to find his
freaking ball. The real Greg Norman would've strangled two rules
officials, drowned his caddie and filed an official grievance
with God. This Greg Norman simply turned, walked back up the
hill, rehit, sank the 22-foot putt and made an unforgettable 4.

Never, ever would the real Greg Norman play in the final group
on Sunday (as usual), lose by a hair (as usual) and tell us he
enjoyed himself. "I really did," this Norman said, after
finishing three shots behind champion Jose Maria Olazabal. "It
wasn't even like it was Sunday at the Masters."

Oh, please! The one thing in life the real Greg Norman wants
more than anything else was just jacked from him again. He had
the lead by himself with an hour to go. That's three seconds and
three thirds now. He's Charlie Brown, and the Masters is the
football. Give us tears! Give us demons! Give us Goodyears
burning out of the Augusta National lot! "I just don't feel the
sense of urgency anymore," he said.

Oh (pause) my (pause) god!

"He really has changed," says his wife, Laura.

"I just accept things now," says Norman. "Whatever you hit,
whatever you shoot, whatever you do, just accept it."

Well, maybe this is what comes from a lifetime of having safes
drop on your head and manholes open under your feet. Maybe this
is what comes from getting Larry Mized and Bob Twayed too often.
Maybe this is what comes from being stripped naked in front of
the world and paraded down a green street of azaleas by Nick
Faldo in 1996. Golf may owe you, but you finally realize it's
never planning to pay.

That was the capper, really, that hideous Sunday three years ago
when he blew the six-shot lead to Faldo. But it didn't kill him.
It just made him golf's only multimillionaire underdog. His
secretaries were up to their diamond necklaces in sympathetic
faxes and letters after that Masters. Augusta's crowds now ache
for him to win. More amazing still, so do other players.

This year, after Norman had missed the last two Masters cuts,
David Duval said if he couldn't win, he wanted Norman to. Ditto
Ernie Els. Ditto Nick Price. Players hoping that Norman gets a
green jacket? Players used to hope that Norman got a hernia but
not a green jacket.

"Greg needs to be liked," says Laura, "and he is. It sounds
weird, but I'd rather him lose and be liked than win and not be
liked. Some players sit in their rooms full of hundreds of
trophies all alone, miserable."

She never once mentioned Faldo, but I will. Since Faldo caught,
landed and gutted Norman that wincing day, he's won only one
tournament anywhere in the world. He's broken up with the coed
he was seeing when he left his wife. His divorce cost him a
reported $10 million and his family life outside London. His
former coach--David Leadbetter--now tutors guess who?

Norman, meanwhile, despite every nasty rumor you've heard, is as
happily married as ever. He and Laura just had their rings
blessed at the Washington, D.C., church where they were hitched
17 years ago. He has never been closer to his two teenage kids,
having just spent nine months with them while he recovered from
the major shoulder surgery he had last May. While Faldo shot
80-73-See Ya last week, Norman and his rebuilt wing danced with
the lead or near it until two bogeys in the final five holes did
him in for the 4,761st time.

What did this Norman say? "If I never get this [Masters win],"
he said, "honestly, there wouldn't be a tournament on this
planet that I've enjoyed more."

See? What more proof do you need? I mean, would Wile E. Coyote
say, "Honestly, there wouldn't be a company on this planet I've
enjoyed more than ACME"?

O.K., when do we get the ransom note?


Augusta National's crowds now ache for Greg Norman to win. More
amazing still, so do other players.