Greg Norman’s career Mulligan: the 1986 Masters

The Australian who’s had more than his fair share of Augusta misery tells Jeremy Ellwood where he would take his one career Mulligan…

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The Australian who’s had more than his fair share of Augusta misery tells Jeremy Ellwood where he would take his one career Mulligan…

Think of Greg Norman and you’ll probably think of heartache and near misses before the Major wins and countless other victories , with 1996’s final-round Masters capitulation to turn a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo into a five-shot defeat springing most readily to mind.

But this was a tournament that Norman ‘could’ve, should’ve’ won several times over during the period from 1981 to 1999 when he finished in the top six nine times and runner-up three times.

One of those 2nd places finishes was, indeed, 1996, with the previous one in 1987 when Larry Mize had the audacity to chip in on the second play-off hole with Norman contemplating a potential two-putt for victory from the fringe.

But when we met up with Norman at his Emerald Reef Golf Course in The Bahamas last year, and asked where he would take his one career Mulligan, he had little hesitation in pointing to the final hole of the 1986 Masters, in what famously became the year of the Golden Bear, rather than the year of the Shark…

“It would probably be the 4-iron at 18 at Augusta in 1986. It was just the wrong club. I had 187 yards and I’d been playing so well all day and hitting everything solid all day. I just tried to finesse a 4-iron in there. Under pressure you’re better off going with as close to a full aggressive swing as you possibly can. I wouldn’t go at 100% but I would go at a full 80%.

“But I was taking a 4-iron in there and had to take a lot off it as I was trying to hit a high cut shot to get back to the flag. The 18th has got a lot of upslope - I didn’t fire my right hip up through the ball and gravity kept me back a little bit and that’s why I flailed it out to the right. So I’d have that one again.”

 

Jeremy Ellwood
Jeremy Ellwood

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...