1997 World Championship of Golf
Grayhawk Golf Club
Scottsdale, Arizona
January 4-5, 1997

Norman Wins Match Play with Final Hole Birdie

Greg Norman of Australia sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the 36th hole to defeat American Scott Hoch, 1 up, and win the $3.65 million World Championship of Golf at the Grayhawk Golf Club.

Norman, the world’s top-ranked player, collected the $1 million first prize in the match-play competition. Hoch, who missed a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole, won $500,000.

“I’ll start the year with a lot of confidence,” said Norman. “There was a lot of pressure here. There were four or five swings I didn’t feel comfortable with. I’ll go back and look at that.”

Norman raced to a 4-up lead after nine holes. He finished the first 18 holes 3-up, but had three straight bogeys to open the second 18, enabling Hoch to even the match.

“I got off to a shaky start in the afternoon,” Norman said. “After the bogeys, I knew I had a long way to go. The hardest thing to explain is how difficult match play is on your head. It’s a great way to play.’

Hoch stumbled with a bogey on the 30th hole, but Norman gave the hole back with a bogey at the 33rd, squaring the match and setting the stage for his winning birdie.

“I just didn’t play well early,” Hoch said. “You can’t miss fairways. I hung in there, but that doesn’t mean anything. I feel good that I came back from 4-down against the number one player in the world.

“I never could get up,” he added. “I had my opportunities. I’ve finished second the last four tournaments I’ve played.”

Hisayuki Sasaki of Japan topped Sam Torrance of Europe, 2 and 1, to win the 18-hole consolation match and $350,000. Torrance received $300,000.

All four golfers advanced to Saturday’s semifinals by winning regional competitions in 1996.

In the match-play format, Norman eliminated Sasaki, 5 and 4, setting up a showdown with Hoch, who defeated Sam Torrance of Europe, 4 and 2, sealing the match with a birdie on the 16th hole.

Norman, the all-time money-winner with more than $10.4 million, won the International region with victories over Craig Parry, former PGA champion Steve Elkington and David Frost, last year’s losing finalist.

Hoch, who had his first $1 million season in 1996, beat British Open champion Tom Lehman, Mark McCumber and Lee Janzen to win the American region.

Sasaki, a member of the Japan Tour since 1986, defeated 1996 Japanese champion Massy Kuramoto, Hideki Kase and Shigeki Maruyama to win his region.

Torrance, an eight-time Ryder Cup member and winner of more than 20 events on the European Tour, topped Mark James, Miguel Angel Jimenez and world number four Colin Montgomerie to come out on top of the European bracket.

The Grayhawk Golf Club is a par-72 layout that measures 7,001 yards.