Norman in familiar spot: down, but not quite out


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Greg Norman is famous for putting together incredible final rounds at the Masters, for putting up the kind of scores that get him back in the hunt.

But he is also famous for coming up short at Augusta National.

A 3-over-par 75 yesterday in the third round of the 58th Masters might have put Norman in familiar territory, needing a tremendous comeback to have any chance of winning.

"I probably played better than I did the first two days," said the 39-year-old Australian, who finds himself six shots behind third-round leader Tom Lehman. "But I didn't get a lot out of it."

As Lehman surged into the lead playing alongside him, Norman struggled. After saving par with a 6-footer at No. 5, Norman bogeyed three of the next four holes. He then missed a number of birdie chances on the back nine.

The most glaring mistake came when Norman put his second shot at the par-5 15th hole 20 feet above the cup. But after twice stepping away from his ball, Norman rammed the putt 4 feet past and missed coming back to settle for a par.

Asked why he stepped away from the ball, Norman said, "My ball was blowing in the wind."

So apparently are his chances.

Childhood dream come true

For Barbara Lehman, watching her son Tom leading the Masters brings back memories from his childhood in Minnesota. Tom and his older brother Jim, who is now his business manager, used to pretend they were playing at Augusta National.

The family's back yard, in Alexandria, Minn., didn't have any dogwoods or azaleas, but it did hold plenty of dreams. "We replayed the Masters many times in the year," Barbara Lehman said yesterday. "They used to pretend they were Arnold Palmer and whoever."

When the family moved to Michigan for a year when Tom was seven years old, his father took him to the nearby Buick Open. As they were watching from behind the practice range ropes, Palmer invited the youngster to sit on his bag.

"Two years ago when the Open was played at Pebble Beach, Arnold Palmer came over to talk with Tom," recalled Barbara Lehman. "Tom started to tell him about meeting him, and Arnold said, "I know exactly who you are."

A victory today, and the rest of the golfing world will know too.

Mistaken identity

When Tom Kite was misintroduced during a post-round news conference as "Tom Watson," the former U.S. Open champion joked, "How many green jackets do I have?"

The answer is still none, two fewer than Watson.

Stewart to take break

Citing a "a bad attitude", former U.S. Open Payne Stewart said after missing the cut Friday that he planned to take an extended break from playing the PGA Tour.

"Having a bad attitude is much worse than having a bad golf swing," said Stewart, who had missed the cut two weeks ago at The Players Championship and finished tied for 72nd last week in New Orleans.

Stewart, who shot a pair of 6-over par 78s here, said what concerns him is that he is taking his problems from the course with him when he leaves. "The problems are carrying into my daily life, the way I treat my kids, my wife, the media," he said.

How long will he stay away? Stewart isn't sure himself.

Tight security

Larry Mize spent most of his childhood in Augusta.

Asked Friday whether he and his friends ever thought of climbing a fence and sneaking onto the hallowed grounds of the famous course, Mize said, half-jokingly, "No. We were afraid we'd get shot."

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