Norman, 6 behind leader, looking to catch a break Perennial also-ran seeks fast finish


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Something seems to go wrong for Greg Norman every year at The Masters. He is either too aggressive or too tentative. He has gotten off to a number of slow starts that all but negated some fast finishes.

Is it possible Norman wants to win at Augusta National too much?

"Everybody says it," Norman said Friday. "I personally don't feel that way, but my wife says it and my good friends say it and the people in the media say it, so I guess it must be true."

Norman started yesterday's third round in good position, at 2-under-par 142 and five shots behind second-round leader Jeff Maggert. He isn't in terrible shape going into today's final round -- at 3-under 213 and six shots behind leader Bernhard Langer -- but it could have been a lot better.

Consider that he didn't make a birdie until the 10th hole, when he chipped in from just off the green. It came after Norman missed four putts inside 12 feet in the first eight holes, including a 3-footer on the par-3 fourth and a 5-footer on the par-4 seventh.

"I told myself just to be patient," said Norman. "I said that things are going to break for me sooner or later."

After the birdie at 10, things started going against Norman when he bogeyed the par-4 14th hole. But birdies at 15 and 18 made him feel infinitely better when he left the course last night. Considering that he is famous for his late charges here, anything is possible for him today.

"I'd like to shoot 64," said Norman.

Poor opening rounds often have hurt Norman's chances. In the 13 years since he has been coming here, Norman has been at or under par after the first day only four times. He was 2-over this year. His last three final rounds were a combined 17-under par.

"I really don't know what it is," he said. "It must have something to do with it [wanting to win too much]. There has to be something to it. Something happens to me. I don't know what it is."

One thing happens to Norman here every year: he doesn't win. But he compares The Masters, and Augusta National, to his favorite course back home in Australia.

"I went a long time at Royal Melbourne knocking on the door before I won," said Norman, 38. "It took me about five years there to win, but I left a whole lot of me on the ground before I did."

Nicklaus 'disappointed'

Six-time champion Jack Nicklaus, who started the 57th Masters with a 5-under par 67 and a share of the lead, continued to fall back yesterday. After play was suspended by rain Friday, Nicklaus was 4-under through 31 holes.

When he came back out to finish the round, the rain was gone but so was his early magic. Nicklaus bogeyed two of his last five holes in the second round to move to 2-under, then bogeyed two of his first four holes of the third round to find himself even-par.

"I'm really disappointed," said Nicklaus, who finished with a 4-over 76 and is at 2-over 218. "I felt I was really putting the ball well, but the name of the game is putting it in the hole and I couldn't do that today."

Faldo fades

Nick Faldo, a two-time champion, also had problems. He blamed a 7-over 79, which put him 10-over for the tournament, on his putting. Only one problem: Faldo didn't three-putt a single green.

"I'm going to work on building my stroke back up," said Faldo. "I'm going to go back to square one."

Faldo, whose concentration has lapsed since the birth of his family's third child last month, plans to return home to England and take the next three weeks off.

Making the cut

When the cut was made yesterday morning after the rain-delayed second round was concluded, 61 players had made it, three short of the record. Tom Watson, 2-over at the time, set a tournament record with his 19th straight. He had been tied with Billy Casper at 18.

Ogle's eagles

Australian Brett Ogle became the first player in the history of the tournament to eagle two par-4s. After an eagle at No. 3 Thursday and an eagle at No. 14 yesterday, he is 1-under for the tournament.

Quote board

The quote of the week has to come from Dan Forsman, who said in describing the wide swings of emotions that often are played out at Augusta, "A friend of mine once told that one minute you're bleeding, the next minute you're hemorrhaging and the next minute you're painting the Mona Lisa."

Who told him that?

"Mac O'Grady," he said.


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