Great White Shark's Win Streak at Five
Greg Norman came home, unthreatened, by five shots in the $125,000 National Panasonic NSW Open at Concord yesterday, then declared that there could be a shot or shot-and-a-half improvement in his game in future years.
That will bring no joy to the rivals who saw him lose step yesterday on the back nine, where he dtrung together four bogeys, and yet were still way behind as he took this championship for a third time with his 9-under par 275.
He simply ran out of the necessary opposition to keep his mind on the job and his 73 was nothing more than a mandatory requirement.
Indeed, he said later that his four-round performance warranteed only a 6.9 or 7 out of 10 on his personal assessment scale. Only on Thursday, for his tournament record 65, did he feel he played extrememely well.
So it’s two straight domestic victories behind him – the Queensland and NSW Opens – and perhaps four to go – the South Australian Open, Australian-PGA Championship, Australian Open, and West Australian Open.
Taking his paralysing momentum a step further, he won the British Open in July and then came second in the US PGA title. Since September, he has has consecutive victories in the European Open, as captain of Australia’s successful Dunhill Cup team, in the world match play championship and now the two State Opens.
On the latter count, one immediately begins to think of Byron Nelson’s record of 11 consecutive victories between March and August 1945. He actually won a 12th, but it was unofficial as the prize money was below the minimum for a US Tour event.
Norman mentioned after his win yesterday that he understood his present sequence to be the longest successful run since then – while one must remember that the Dunhill Cup was a three-man teams event.
Yet he still thinks he can improve.
Asked in which areas, he said: “probably more mental than anything else. Mental improvement. That could be worth a shot a round. And also a half a shot on the physical side.
“There’s always room for improvement in your concentration no matter how hard you concentrate. It depends what you concentrate on and how you apply it.
“Like the front nine today. My concentration was wonderful. I felt so good for that reason. I never really gave it a chance to get away from me and the only thing I did wrong was three-putt the third hole.”
Yet Norman conceded that his concentration wavered on the back nine. It began to show when he tried a fancy shot on the 10th which he would never have done normally and he described his eventual 40 coming home as “having the afternoon off”.
However, he remained so overwhelmingly in command that interest in the day’s progress was kept alive only by the torrid fight for the small change. The winner’s cheque of $22,500 was clearly accounted for.
Norman flies to Adelaide for the South Australian Open and a drive in the celebrity race at the Adelaide Grand Prix.
Those who watched him over the four days at Concord will be sad to see him go, for he won everybody’s admiration for the way he handled the ennormous pressures the admiring masses heap on the stars.
Nobody could have been more accommodating than Norman has been this week. He not only won this championship, but an increasing army of fans.