Saturday, July 19, 2008

One last shot
Stranger things have no doubt happened, but it's reasonable to assume that what is coming in a few hours will be Greg Norman's last shot at a major championship.

The golfer has not been shut out of majors, and has been victorious in this very event. But winning the British Open at 53 years old, that really would be something.

Rarely have back-to-back majors provided such drama. The U.S. Open was as gripping as any sporting event, with an injured Tiger Woods and an aging Rocco Mediate battling it out in a Monday playoff.

But should Norman somehow hold his two-shot lead, well, that's history.

Norman is a name from the past. For me, he's a reminder of the pre-Tiger era, when golf was merely something my father watched and not something I really followed.

It's tough for me to write this, but I never really became a golf fan until Woods came along. I'm not sure I like everything that has come with his popularity -- endless hype, fans who think they are at a football game, and mindless windbags bantering on about a topic they know little about.

Norman comes from the pre-Tiger era. He can take a tee shot on the par 5, and you can remember, easily, a time before some idiot screamed out "GET IN THE HOLE!"

Tiger is not to blame for what I don't like about golf. He has handled his ridiculous success with a class that, in this day and age, would be difficult to match.

But even with Tiger on the shelf for the British Open, the announcers and writers still could not avoid obsessing over him. The pieces on TV were about the golfer's heroic victories in the past (at least that's how they seemed to be portrayed).

Hey, I admire Tiger as much as the next guy, but he's no hero. I hate to pull the soldier/firefighter/police officer/teacher card, but as long as people continue to talk inside an ignorant bubble, I'll continue to protest.

And yet, here's Norman. He's way past his prime. Despite all his success, he's known for choking away majors on the final day. And he's got a rather famous woman by his side -- his new wife, Chris Everett.

So many stories are there for the taking. A victory today would vault Norman into legend, something he seemed destined for so many years ago.

Here's hoping he pulls it off, if only to show that even without its greatest star, golf can still leave you gasping after the 18th hole.

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