A few days back Australian Greg Norman weighed in from his “close up” perspective of the PGA Tour suggesting that Tiger Woods was now “intimidated” by Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Norman’s contention, you have to admit he knows something first hand about intimidation. You would have to look long and hard to find an elite player who has wilted under the ‘intimidating’ pressure of trying to put the finishing touches on a major championship more than Norman.
Despite two major wins, a sensational credential, the Shark was more often ‘chum’ to another player’s success. In 1984, Fuzzy Zoeller waved a towel of surrender to Norman on the 72nd hole at the US Open at Winged Foot, but it was Zoeller who raised the trophy after the Monday playoff.
For many Jack Nicklaus’ sixth Masters win in 1986 was a signature moment in his career. Lost in that spectacle was the fact that Norman stood in the fairway at the 72nd hole and didn’t even come close to green and a par that would have gotten him into a playoff that year.
Again in ’86, Norman took on the victim role as Bob Tway came out of the bunker at the eighteenth at Inverness to deny Norman the PGA Championship. In fact it was 1986 that saw Norman author the Saturday Slam with final round overnight leads at all four majors and only a single win at the Open Championship at Turnberry.
It had to be ‘intimidating’ back at the Masters the next year and collecting a runner-up finish to Larry Mize’s chip in on the second playoff hole, the 11th. Mark Calcavecchia was the next player to intimidate the Australian when he took him down in a playoff for the Open Championship in 1989 at Royal Troon.
You might have thought his second place pattern was behind him when he picked up his second major win at St. George in 1993, but it only took a few weeks before he handed the PGA Championship to Paul Azinger, again at Inverness. After losing to Corey Pavin at the US Open at Shinnecock in 1995, Norman suggested it was just as difficult to finish second in a major as it was to actually win one. Apparently winning was no more intimidating than losing.
Then in 1996 the Shark authored his intimidated “piece de resistance,” once again at Augusta. After playing three brilliant rounds and taking a six shot lead over Nick Faldo into Sunday, he was the ‘master’ of his own destiny and dealt himself a final round 78 and an eleven shot swing.
So when Norman opines about fourteen majors winner Tiger Woods being intimidated by anyone or anything, you have to take him seriously because the Shark knows intimidation.
Not Quite Kiaweh
Golf fans in St. Louis have not only benefited from the largesse of Bellerive Country Club in bringing some of the premier events in golf to St. Louis on a regular basis. Additionally, the club has accommodated their galleries with user-friendly parking except when weather intervened. That accommodation appears to be off the menu for the Senior PGA Championship in may 0f 2013.
It is anticipated that golf’s oldest senior major will feature Bellerive’s newest parking protocol with the majority of the galleries riding shuttle buses to the event, no matter the weather.
Offsite parking is the rule rather than the exception in golf these days. A much smaller event, the LPGA’s State Farm Classic in Springfield, IL went to shuttles when the tournament moved to Panther Creek. The good news for the Bellerive galleries is the completion of improvements on Highway 141 changes should make the commute short and painless if some of the logistical challenges created on short notice at the 2008 BMW Championship have been resolved.
One final observation about Bellerive. There are still seven months before the Senior PGA Championship unfolds, but the course could use a little good fortune. The difficult summer weather was not kind to Bellerive’s fairway or greens. The greens should be easily remedied with the northern grasses enjoying the cool fall and next spring. Without the expertise of area superintendents, I would think the zoysia fairways represent a bigger hurdle. Those areas will go dormant for the winter and barring a second successive early spring, will be slow to respond significantly before the May date. After weather cancellations of rounds in 2008 and 2004 and a complete cancellation in 2001, the membership deserves a break.