Greg Norman Relives His Not-So-Greatest Moments for ‘30 for 30: Shark’

Greg Norman Stephen Munday/Allsport/Getty Images

“God, it’s so nice to come here without all the pressure,” says Greg Norman on the tee box at Augusta National Golf Club. This hallowed ground, site of the Masters Tournament, is full of ghosts for Norman. He never won the Masters, but his three second-place finishes are legendary for how spectacularly he let victory slip away.

[Update: ESPN’s 30 for 30: Shark, previously scheduled for April 5, now premieres April 19 at 8:30pm ET.]

Norman reflects on his career for ESPN’s documentary 30 for 30: Shark, premiering April 19 at 8:30pm ET. Norman candidly discusses those heartbreaking moments, watches some of them for the first time and returns to Augusta to take another shot at a few strokes that didn’t go his way decades earlier.

With his surfer looks and aggressive style of play, the young Australian earned the nickname “The Great White Shark” after his fourth-place finish at the ’81 Masters. Most observers were convinced that Norman would eventually have a few green jackets in his closet.

“Greg, in 1986, had the entire golf world’s imagination running wild,” notes Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee. “But he also was demonstrating that he was going to be plagued by this sort of paradoxical tug-of-war between your technique and your mind.”

A combination of Norman’s own mistakes and some miraculous shots by his opponents had many wondering if the Shark was snakebit. In 1986, Norman led all four majors through 54 holes, but could only claim victory at the British Open. At the 1987 Masters, Norman lost in a sudden-death playoff when Larry Mize improbably holed a 140-foot chip shot for birdie.

Norman’s most infamous meltdown came at the 1996 Masters, where he entered the final round with a six-stroke lead over Nick Faldo. Norman collapsed over the last 10 holes and lost to Faldo by five strokes.

These shortcomings often overshadow the fact that Norman was incredibly successful, both in golf and in business. He held the world No. 1 ranking for 331 weeks, won the British Open twice, won 20 PGA Tour tournaments and was the first person in Tour history to hit the $10 million career earnings mark.

“I’m good with it now,” Norman says. “I’ve recognized it and I can move through that process to get to a point where I can speak very openly and emotionally about it. Would my life be different today if I had a green jacket? No.”

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About Ryan Berenz 2120 Articles
Some things I like (in no particular order): Sports, Star Wars, LEGO, beer, 'The Simpsons' Seasons 1-13, my family and the few friends who are not embarrassed to be seen with me. Why yes, I am very interested in how much you like 'Alaskan Bush People.' #LynxForLife