Damon Hack is spot on when he distinguishes between Norman’s final round yesterday at Birkdale and 1996 at Augusta.
This wasn’t the same as 1996, however, when Norman blew a six-shot lead in his prime to lose the Masters. This was a part-time golfer reaching back for former glory and falling short.
Also correct is Michael Rosenberg, who penned that Norman’s legacy will only grow after his final round 77.
Yet per usual, cooler heads did not prevail, and the typical morning after column regarding The Shark didn’t even try to conceal its scathing Schadenfreude. The worst offenders? Martin Johnson wrote that Norman beat himself. And Rick Reilly posited (on video) that it was all too much for a man still licking his wounds and tending to his emotional scars from previous Sundays gone bad.
Reilly is also the one, by the way, who suggested on the air that given Norman’s Robb Report-esque lifestyle, that one can’t or shouldn’t feel too sorry for him. I can’t help but wonder if that’s the real reason that all of the Norman bashers jumped out of the woodwork seemingly with such glee on Monday, so quick to criticize his overuse of the driver, so willing to make the instant 1996 comparison–nevermind the fact that Norman’s age and world ranking were just a tad lower back then, and the expectations for his game a bit higher.
Norman recently wrote a check for a cool $100 million or so to his ex-wife, Laura. Yet he recently remarried and now appears as happy as ever, if not more so. Most people can’t relate to that, and when most people can’t relate to something or someone, they go on the offensive. Even Mike Tirico pounced on Norman’s comment Saturday that he would be dining that evening with the “President of my company.” So while The Shark may have fallen short on Sunday yet again, it turns out that there were plenty of other sharks on the sidelines ready for the kill.