Despite a stellar professional career, Greg “The Great White Shark” Norman consistently underperformed at golf’s major tournaments, managing to lose the Masters in particularly dramatic fashion. Four times.
In 1986, he was the co-leader midway through the final round. After losing ground, he roared back over the back nine, putting himself in position to battle Jack Nicklaus in a playoff with a par on the final hole. He bogeyed.
The next year, Norman teed off on the 18th fairway with a share of the lead. A 20-foot birdie putt for the win lipped out, and he lost a playoff to Larry Mize.
In 1989, he had a share of the lead on the final hole again. He missed a birdie to win it, then missed a 12-foot par putt to join Nick Faldo and Scott Hoch in a playoff.
In 1996, Norman dominated the field through the first three days, opening with a record-tying 63 and stretching to a six stroke lead going into the final day. A long awaited, well deserved Masters victory seemed to be at hand. It would have been easier to find someone actually named Ebenezer Scrooge among the crowd that day, at home or on the grounds, than it would to find someone rooting against the likable Aussie. Redemption, just desserts, and all those other feelings that sport seems best able to inspire, were on the very edge of being inspired. In a memorable round which is invariably described with the term “meltdown,” Norman shot a 78 to Nick Faldo’s 67, losing by 5 strokes.
The next year, 1997, Tiger Woods would win the first of his 4 Masters.