Again, Norman must put a close call behind him


SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- Some players work on victory speeches. Greg Norman has had plenty of practice at making concession speeches, especially at major championships.

Norman did it again yesterday in the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.

"I never cry over spilled milk, I gave it my best shot," said Norman after his final-round 73 left him two shots behind the winner, Corey Pavin. "There are a lot of players out there who didn't do as well.

"I obviously was in a tie for the lead [with Tom Lehman] going into today's round. There is no question about it. . . . I have led major championships before going into the final round and it is just the same," said Norman, who has finished second in seven majors. "There is pressure on you to do it."

From the first hole, when his approach hit the flagstick on the fly and the ball ricocheted off the green, it didn't seem to be Norman's day. Or his tournament. It was the closest he had come at the Open since losing in a playoff to Fuzzy Zoeller at Winged Foot in 1984, and followed a third-place finish at this year's Masters.

Earlier in his career, Norman often carried his defeats with him. He was said to have sat on the porch of a rented home and cried after losing to Larry Mize on a 130-foot pitch in sudden-death at the 1987 Masters.

Asked how he will treat the latest disappointment, Norman said, "I forget about it. I let things go. I don't harbor them. The day is over and gone. I won't lose a night's sleep.

"It never haunts me. I can sit back and say I have done a lot better than a lot of other players too. I don't sit back and feel sorry for myself and say, 'Boy, I have done a good job.' I put myself in there with a chance to win more times than anybody else."

When he gets up today, Norman again will be ranked No. 1 in the world. It is of little consolation, as is the $207,000 he collected for finishing second.

"I've never cared about the rankings," said Norman. "I don't believe in the system."

Political clout

Pavin received a telephone call from a recent playing partner after his victory. The call was from that noted golf-aholic, Bill Clinton, with whom Pavin played 15 holes at Army-Navy Country Club the Friday afternoon of the Kemper Open.

"What he said to me on the phone was that he was spreading word around the White House that he had helped my game a lot," said Pavin, who visited the White House with his wife and their two children during the Kemper.

Lancaster puts name in books

Ben Crenshaw did it several years ago while playing with some members at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, but a first-tee mulligan made his course-record 5-under par 65 unofficial.

Three other PGA Tour players -- Chip Beck, Lanny Wadkins and Mark Calcavecchia -- did it for the Shinnecock Hills record book ++ during the final round of the 1986 Open.

None of those players accomplished what Neal Lancaster did yesterday.

Lancaster, a fifth-year PGA Tour pro out of Smithfield, N.C., shot his way into both the Open and club record books. Not only did his 5-under par 65 in the final round tie the course record, but his 29 on the back nine made Lancaster the first player in the event's history to shoot under 30 for nine holes.

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