Greg Norman held a six-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Masters in 1996. He recalled trying to take it easy the night before and not overthink the game when nearly everyone considered Norman would walk away with the coveted green jacket. Norman recalled being told “not even you can screw this up” the night before the final round. Norman found a way to let victory slip away.
Greg Norman was the original Shark Tank
Nicknamed ‘The (Great White) Shark,’ Greg Norman should be remembered for his exceptional golfing, including his 20 PGA Tour victories and his two wins in major tournaments. While he is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame (Class of 2001), Norman is most often associated with his meltdown during the 1996 Masters.
Norman turned pro in 1976 and went on to have a lengthy and very successful golfing career. He’s racked up 88 career victories, participating in the PGA Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, European Tour, and Champions Tour. During the 1980s and 1990s, Norman spent a total of 331 weeks ranked No. 1, according to Official World Golf Rankings.
Norman is a two-time winner of The Open Championship, winning in 1986 and 1993. Twice, he’s finished second in the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open. Three times, Norman was second in the Masters. One of those times, in 1996, the man they call ‘Shark’ tanked it after taking a six-stroke lead into the final round of the Masters.
Norman’s epic collapse at the Masters
Greg Norman entered the final round of the Masters 25 years ago with a seemingly comfortable lead. Norman held a six-stroke lead over Nick Faldo. Norman was the No. 1 player in the world entering the tournament and he showed it with a sizzling 9-under 63 in the opening round. His 63 tied the lowest round in the tournament’s history.
Through nine holes, Faldo gained four strokes on Norman, who was still the leader with nine holes to play. Then things got real ugly. On the par-4 10th hole, Norman overshot a seemingly easy chip shot before missing an eight-foot putt. Faldo and Norman were tied heading into the 12th hole.
Norman’s double-bogey on 16 crushed any hopes of avoiding a collapse. Faldo finished the round with a 67, and Norman shot 78 to finish five strokes behind.
Norman just wanted to relax the night before the final round
During an interview with Graham Bensinger back in 2016, Greg Norman relived his nightmare final round of the 1996 Masters. He recalled just wanting to take it easy the Saturday night before. “I was thinking about going home, getting something to eat, and going to bed,” Norman told Bensinger, who asked what he was thinking about the night before.
“It was late, the press conference went long, and I still had to do some practice,” Norman said. “I was walking out of the locker room and Peter Dobereiner, a British writer, was standing at the corner of the bar. He says to me, ‘not even you can screw this up tomorrow.’ Why would you even say that?”
Norman admitted there was a mental challenge he had to deal with. “You’re fighting with every bit of intensity you’ve got within you,” he said. “You don’t dare admit that things are slipping away to yourself. You keep grinding and keep focusing and doing stupid little things to yourself. I used to stick my thumb up underneath my rib cage to give myself so much pain to focus on the moment.”