It’s as if Boris Becker had walked onto the courts of Wimbledon a few weeks back at the age of 40-something (or whatever he is) and proceeded to win his first four matches without losing a set. That’s how amazing it is that 53-year-old Greg Norman, who has been retired in all but name for about seven years, is in solo second place at the British Open. The wonders of the rejuvenative powers of Chris Evert!!!! (Norman and Evert married each other less than three years ago after, well, carrying on, as they say, for a while, apparently.) People should remember that Norman, the Great White Shark, was by far the most galvanizing figure in golf for about 12 years straight. He had almost the athleticism of Tiger Woods (he looked like he would be comfortable on a professional soccer team, or as a free safety in the NFL, or something) while hitting his drives straighter than Tiger; he had an ability second only to Jack Nicklaus to “man up” after a defeat and give credit to the victor; he unfortunately displayed all the brains under pressure of Phil Mickelson; and he famously had the ill-fatedness of Job or perhaps of somebody from a Greek tragedy. And now, out of the mists of time, he’s back, heading into the weekend rounds in the final (i.e. top) pairing!!
But that’s not all. Tied for fourth is David Duval, the onetime top player in the world whose skills fell off the face of the earth for about seven years (beginning almost immediately after winning the British Open in 2001), much like 1991 champion Ian Baker-Finch, now relegated to the TV tower after being unable to find a double-wide fairway if his life depended on it.
Tied with Duval is Rocco Mediate, proving that his epic battle with Tiger last month was no fluke and proving that 45-year-olds still “got game” for more than one flukish week. Finally, lurking just 5 strokes back in a tie for 16th, still very much in the hunt, is Jean “Triple Bogey” Van de Velde, who somehow crawled out of the wee burn at Carnoustie only to fall prey to a mysterious illness so seemingly grave that he was the subject of an elegaic feature just a year or two ago, as if he weren’t long for the world.
Norman, Duval, Rocco, and Van de Velde: If this isn’t a time warp, then it’s the Twilight Zone. Amazing stuff.
(Finally, as an addendum, it is worth noting that the players at +9 who just barely squeaked in below the cut line include a veritable feast of superstars and/or Ryder/PResident’s Cuppers: Ernie Els, Davis Love III, Michael Cambell (former US Open champ), Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Nick O’Hern, Andres Romero, and Lucas Glover. Believe it or not none of them is too far back, under this week’s conditions, to be out of contention for the title.)