Norman Takes Another Step Along the Road to Greatness
Greg Norman, the young Queenslander with the world at his feet, took another step along the road to golfing greatness by winning the $175,000 Dunhill Australian Open at The Lakes yesterday.
Norman, ranked by Texas-based Australian David Graham as “the next best player in the world,” survived a nerve-tingling finish to shade Sydney’s Brian Jones by one shot.
The 25-year-old Norman finished on 4-under-par 284 after yesterday’s 2-under round of 70 to beat 28-year-old Jones, who had led from the first round. David Graham was another stroke back in third place.
Norman, who last month won the World Match Play title, received $35,000 for winning the 65th Australian Open.
The memory of three-putting the 18th hole to lose last year’s Australian Open at The Metropolitan in Melbourne flashed across Norman’s mind when he had a similar 1½-meter putt on the 16th hole yesterday.
“I just went for a walk to get those thoughts out of my mind,” Norman said later. He went on to hole the putt.
Norman and Jones staged a tremendous tussle throughout the day after Norman had begun the final round two shots behind Jones.
Norman started sensationally with birdies at the second, third, fourth and seventh holes to go 6 under and overhaul Jones, who birdied the third and fifth holes but dropped a stroke at the seventh.
“I was in a fantastic frame of mind and felt after the first hole that I could have eight birdies,” Norman said. He duly carved out a sizzling 4-under-par 32 on the first nine holes.
Jones joined Norman in the lead at 6 under when he birdies the par-3 ninth, but Norman again edged ahead at the 10th when Jones bogeyed. But Jones was proving a persistent customer and again drew level with a birdie at the 11th.
They were locked in a gripping struggle for the next four holes, but just when a sudden-death playoff appeared likely the decisive breakthrough came at the 16th hole.
Jones fluffed a short putt to go 4 under and needed to birdie the final hole to force a sudden-death playoff with Norman. His iron shot to the par-3 18th green looked good in the air, but skimmed 6 meters past the hole.
His putt curled away and Norman, watching from the scorer’s caravan, threw his arms into the air in jubilation.
The Open success caps an outstanding year for Norman, who has pocketed $250,000 in prize money in winning the Scandinavian and French Opens plus the World Match Play.