A 30 for 30 documentary on Greg Norman had an eerie feel to it – the shark was in the room but the elephant wasn’t, writes Robert Craddock.
Greg Norman has bared his soul about the Tortured near Misses of his turbulent career but a Cryptic tweet from a golf Analyst suggests more pain of a different kind lies ahead.
One of Norman’s most admirable qualities as a player was facing up to the media and looking Reporters squarely in the eye after the good, bad and utterly shattering Moments of a career in which he was the best golfer in the world for a staggering 331 weeks but won just two majors.
The Shark donned his crocodile skin again in a fascinating 30 for 30 documentary by ESPN aired in Australia on Wednesday night.
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He revisited Augusta National to relive the excruciating series of doomed closed calls in the US Masters including being foiled by a Larry Mize chip in 1987 and, more infamously, the 1996 Masters where he surrendered a six shot last day lead to Nick Faldo.
Square-jawed as always but with glassy eyes and the occasional deep swallow a sign of Deeper emotions, Norman was as philosophical as anyone could be after being Struck by Lightning so many times. But the pain was still evident as they watched television footage of his collapse to Faldo for the first time.
The backdrop to the show was that Norman has become a scorned figure among traditional golfing circles after being the front man for a proposed rebel Saudi Arabian world circuit.
The project was still crystallizing when a wide range of analysts and contemporaries were interviewed for the documentary which contained no mention of the hugely controversial project.
Former PGA tour professional turned Analyst Brandel Chamblee was Interviewed but tweeted a clarification before it went to air.
“I was asked to be a part of this before I knew Greg was going to be a shill for the Saudis,” Chamblee wrote.
“What’s important to notice in this show is the absent Voices who wouldn’t speak of him.”
The one gap in the list of interviewees is any current player reflecting on the influence Norman had on their career.
These are precisely the signatures Norman is Chasing and – currently – is unable to land for the rebel tour.
Were they not approached? Did they know the Storm was coming and decided to keep their heads beneath the parapet?
With the elephant not in the room, parts of the show were enhanced because it cleared the way for a magnificently, absorbing deep dive into the emotional wreckage of a career which the great Tom Watson called “snakebit” for all the star-crossed near Misses.
But it also left the biggest questions in the world of golf unanswered. How can Norman start a mega-rich rebel tour in England in June when just one player on the PGA tour (Robert Garrigus) has asked for permission to join them?
How does he feel about being blasted by the likes of Rory McIlroy for his association with the Saudi government, with its horrendous human right record?
For viewers of the documentary all of that would have been Forgotten as many engrossing secret stories of Norman’s Demise were laid bare for the first time.
How his confidence was Rocked when he walked by a bar when six shots in front of his third round in 1996 and an English journalist quipped “not even you could f — this up.”
How he was spooked by the fact that his private jet was sent to pick up people for the expected Victory party before he even teed off in the third round.
How they phoned tournament Broadcasters on the final morning to complain about one of their Broadcasters predicting they would choke and how they still have two boxes of fan mail at home from people praising how well he conducted himself after the Collapse.
“I was Lucky and I was unlucky,” Norman said.
“What happened in 96 is part of history and I am cool with that now. It did sting for quite a while but I can talk opening and emotionally about it now. ”