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Greg Norman

Greg Norman "The Shark"

Gregory John Norman (born February 10, 1955) is an Australian professional golfer and entrepreneur who spent 331 weeks as the world's number one ranked golfer in the 1980s and 1990s. He is nicknamed "The Great White Shark", or simply, "The Shark", a reference to a shark inhabiting Australian waters as well as Norman's size and blond locks.


Norman was born in Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia. He began his career as a trainee in the Royal Queensland golf shop for the famed Charlie Earp, earning AUD 38 a week. The first professional tournament he won was the 1976 Westlakes Classic in his home country, and he soon moved on to success on the European Tour and later the PGA Tour.

Norman won The Open Championship twice, in 1986 and 1993, and also won The Players Championship in 1994 in record-setting fashion (averaging 68.81 per round for the year). Despite his huge success on the U.S. PGA TOUR and his many wins around the world, Norman will be forever regarded as an underachiever (given his talents), a characterization fueled by his myriad near-misses in The Masters, the U.S. Open, and the PGA Championship. He was equally a victim of his own bad luck and good luck on the part of his fellow golfers in major championships. He infamously lost a near-certain PGA Championship in 1986 after Bob Tway holed a greenside bunker shot (though Norman himself shot a 76 that day), and lost The Masters the following year in a playoff on an even more miraculous 45-yard chip shot by Larry Mize on the second play-off hole.

But not all of Norman's Major woes have been at the hands of others. Many times he has failed to perform in the final round of a tournament, whether it be a final-round 78 in the Masters (see below), a 73 in the 1995 US Open where even-par 70 would have won the tournament, or the 76 in the '86 PGA that set him up to be defeated by Bob Tway's bunker shot. Several of Norman's infamous "chokes" occurred when his wobble-prone putting got the better of him. In 1986, he led all four majors after the third round but won only the British Open. (This is jokingly referred to as the "Norman Slam" or the "Saturday Slam," as in he was leading after the third round on Saturday but lost in the final round on Sunday). He is one of only two players to have competed in - and, like Craig Wood, to have lost - play-offs in all four of the major championships. But perhaps the most embarrassing Norman meltdown of all occurred at The Masters in 1996, where he blew a six-stroke lead in the final round and lost the tournament to Nick Faldo by five strokes, shooting a Sunday 78 to Faldo's 67. ESPN, as part of their "ESPN25" 25th-anniversary celebration, ranked Norman's 1996 Masters mishap as the third-biggest sports choke of the last 25 years. Despite the losses, though, Norman still has twenty nine top-ten finishes in the majors.

After Jack Nicklaus left his prime, Norman was regarded as probably the game's greatest long hitter. In his heyday, driving long and incredibly straight off the tee with a persimmon (wood) clubhead, he intimidated most of his fellow professionals. However, with the advent of the "metal-wood" by Taylor Made and other subsequent advances in golf ball & golf club technology (especially the variable face depth driver), his dominance was significantly diminished, as the "new technology" enabled less precise ball-strikers than Norman to achieve equal (or even better) results in accuracy and distance. But whether the cause was shaken confidence, the new technology, or the emergence of golf's next generation of young stars (including Tiger Woods), Norman was never the same after his final Masters collapse. In the years since, Norman has focused more and more on business ventures and golf course design than on competitive play. He turned fifty in February 2005, but has not yet become a regular on the senior golf circuit, both because of his other interests and because he required knee surgery in October 2005 and February 2006.

Norman's friendly image and articulate nature has made him a perfect spokesman for a wide range of products, including the usual array of golf equipment but extending well beyond. While continuing to play tournaments (albeit in an abbreviated schedule), his growing business interests take up an increasing amount of his time. His personal wealth is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.

Norman's hobbies include offshore game fishing—he has owned a succession of increasingly large and luxurious boats (though his latest, called Aussie Rules, after the sport Australian rules football, may best be described as a small ship) for the purpose — and wine drinking. He became a wine lover in the 1970s while playing at tournaments in Europe.[3] Based in Hobe Sound, Florida, he typically plays only one or two tournaments per year in his homeland which rests easily with other Australians too.

Norman won the PGA Tour of Australia's Order of Merit six times: 1978, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1986, and 1988. He won the European Tour's Order of Merit in 1982, and topped the PGA Tour's Money List in 1986, 1990, and 1995. He won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour three times: 1989, 1990, and 1994; and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001. His dominance over his peers (despite his comparative lack of success in the majors) was probably best expressed in the Official World Golf Rankings: Norman finished the season on top of the ranking list on seven occasions, in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996 and 1997, and was second at the end of 1988, 1993 and 1994.

In 1986, Norman was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award, a feat he replicated in 1993 to join Muhammad Ali and Björn Borg as multiple winners.

Personal life
Norman married an American named Laura in 1981 and they have two children Morgan Leigh, and Gregory. The family lived in Hobe Sound, Florida. His daughter attended Boston College, and for a short while dated Sergio García. In May 2006 he announced that he would be getting divorced. He refused to comment on the reasons for this, other than to say that no third party was involved. He is now rumored to be dating former tennis star Chris Evert.

Norman and his wife commissioned the 270 ft luxury yacht "Aussie Rules", built by Australia ferry builder Austal/Oceanfast. The boat held four sports boats, including a 60ft custom sportfisherman, along with stowage for related gear: 200 rods. Built of aluminium, she could cruise at 15 knots with a range of 8,000 Nm. The boat cost $70 million, but resulted in Austal making an AUS$18 million loss. The boat was quickly sold by Norman in 2004 for a rumoured $77 million to the founder of Blockbuster Video, Wayne Huizenga . She is now renamed M/Y Floridian, and available for charter at $400k per week or sale.

Norman was also an early customer for the Boeing Business Jet, which he had ordered with custom fitted bedroom and office. However, the down turn in the Asian markets adversely affected his golf course design business, and he latterly cancelled the order after acting as an ambassador for Boeing. He eventually retained his Gulfstream V. (Credit: Wikipedia)



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