|Trouble started for Greg Norman on the par-3 sixth, above, when he put his ball in a water hazard, leading to a double bogey. (John Mummert/USGA)
By Dave Shedloski
Carmel, Ind. – When he was asked Sunday to review his final round in the 30th U.S. Senior Open, Greg Norman simply said, "I'd really rather not. Just wasn't good."
Norman's final round at Crooked Stick Golf Club was indeed a disappointment. One out of the lead and playing in the final group for the second week in a row in a senior major, the Great White Shark tanked, shooting a 1-over-par 73 while fellow competitor Fred Funk raced to a record-setting victory.
Actually, it wasn't bad for a guy who plays an abbreviated schedule. But a tie for fourth – his third fourth-place showing in as many starts in this championship - still isn't worth celebrating for someone of Norman's stature. Of the top-10 finishers, Norman was the only one to card an over-par round Sunday.
"Nothing was going my way," said Norman, who hit just eight fairways and eight greens on a breezy but sunny afternoon in central Indiana."I was out of energy and the momentum… not physically out of energy, but the momentum wasn't on my side, and things weren't happening for me, and no matter what I did, always seemed like it was the wrong thing instead of the right thing. I just couldn't turn the corner on it, you know, that was it."
Norman's round and his hopes of winning his first USGA championship came undone at the par-3 sixth hole when he faded a 6-iron that caught a tree and then plopped into the water, resulting in a double bogey. He missed the green left on the par-4 seventh and failed to get up and down out of the deep bunker, and suddenly, he was six behind Funk and swimming upstream.
His frustration was evident on the 15th teeing ground. He had just missed a birdie putt on the 14th from 20 feet, and after belting his driver, he angrily snatched his tee and then jammed his driver into his bag – this despite the ball splitting the fairway. He made his third birdie in five holes, but by then, he was running out of time.
A bogey on the home hole left him at 11-under 277, tied with Loren Roberts, who closed with a record-tying 64. Roberts won last week's Senior British Open while Norman tied for sixth.
"I just didn't feel like there was anything happening out there," said Norman. "You've got to be able to make sure you capitalize on good shots, and I didn't."
"He just didn't seem to have control of the golf ball like he did yesterday," Funk said. "He didn't drive it quite as good and got himself into a little bit of trouble. And a couple of his good shots didn't turn out good, and it started eating at him a little bit."
Norman, 54, will take another crack at a senior major in two weeks at the JELD-WEN Tradition in Bend, Ore. After that, his schedule is uncertain.
"Yes, JELD-WEN is the last of what I got on my list, yeah. We'll see what happens after that," said Norman before he walked off and received a reassuring hug from his bride, tennis great Chris Evert.
He signed a few autographs and then he was off – one of the world's best in his spare time.
Dave Shedloski is a freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on www.ussenioropen.com.