There’s a saying in golf that says there are “horses for courses,” meaning that some golfers’ styles and strengths are more suitable for specific courses than others. Two-time British Open winner Greg Norman shared with Dan Le Batard the aspects of his game that allowed him to win the 1993 British Open at the course that holds it this year, Royal St. Georges.
The secrets that The Shark shared sound like they could present an advantage to certain golfers in the 2021 Open Championship, specifically big hitters like Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, and one other recent major winner.
Greg Norman won the 1993 British Open at Royal St. Georges
Norman is probably best known for his Masters’ collapse in 1996. He also finished second multiple times in stateside majors. However, over in Great Britain, Norman found quite a bit of success.
In 1986, the Aussie won his first major. He rode an up-and-down performance to an easy win at Turnberry in Scotland. Although he shot two 74s, he also had a 63 and a 69 on Sunday to beat England’s Gordon Brand by five strokes.
Seven years later, Norman teed it up in Sandwich, Kent, England, at Royal St. Georges. This time The Shark was much more consistent, shooting 66-68-69-64 to hold off a star-studded field chasing him that included Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Corey Pavin, and Ernie Els. Norman’s final round 64 is the lowest Sunday score ever turned in by an Open Championship winner, per RoyalStGeorges.com.
Norman told Dan Le Batard his big drives won him the 1993 Open Championship
Greg Norman joined The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz and discussed his ’93 British Open win at Royal St. Georges and what golfers can expect this weekend.
The golfer-turned-wine-maker shared that a lot will depend on the weather. It’s rained a lot in Sandwich lately, and golfers can expect winds 10 to 20 MPH, meaning the ball will carry less than usual. He also said, “It’s understanding the nuances of this really quirky golf course, and I mean honestly quirky golf course.”
He explained British Open participants need to come into Royal St. Georges with a strategy. Norman shared his ’93 plan, saying:
I, in ’93, came up with my caddie, Tony Navarro, and Butch Harmon, because I was driving the ball so great, I decided to take on a lot of the doglegs. So, take it over the corner, hit it over the gallery, or hit it over a TV tower, or hit it over there because I’m hitting to the widest part of the fairway because I was hitting beyond the turning points. So, if you got to lay up, you’re laying up to the narrowest point, but I took on the corners, and I was hitting to the widest place. There were four or five holes here where I really took advantage of, and I didn’t back off.
If Norman is suggesting that the best and biggest drivers on the Tour can cut the “quirks” out of Royal St. Georges by bombing balls over the turn of the doglegs on the course, there are a few golfers who this should help at the 2021 British Open.
Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy are the biggest drivers on Tour in 2021
DeChambeau and McIlroy lead the PGA Tour in driving distance in 2021. DeChambeau is first, averaging 321.9 yards per drive, and McIlroy is second at 318.7 yards per drive. The only other past major champions in the top 10 are Dustin Johnson (No. 6, 313.8 yards) and Gary Woodland (No. 10, 311.0 yards).
The issue DeChambeau and McIlroy may run into this week is that the other big stat that will matter at Royal St. Georges is Greens in Regulation (GIR). Neither big hitter does as well in this category. DeChambeau is T74 on the Tour for GIR, leaving himself on the green with a birdie putt just 66.2% of the time. McIlroy isn’t even doing that well. His GIR percentage in 2021 is 65.43%, which is 93rd on tour.
The top PGA player with the best combined driving distance and GIR is the 2021 U.S. Open champion, Jon Rahm. The big Spaniard is fifth in GIR at 71.04% and 21st in driving distance at 307.6.
The impediment to Rahm winning this weekend may be history. Only three golfers have ever won their first two majors in back-to-back starts. If Rahm did accomplish this by winning the 2021 British Open, he would join Craig Wood, who won the 1941 Masters and U.S. Open, Bobby Locke, who back-to-back Open Championships in 1949 and 1950, and Jordan Spieth, who won in the same order as Wood but in 2015.