Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Being Pga Player of Year Caps Fine Time for Norman

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Being Pga Player of Year Caps Fine Time for Norman

Article excerpt

Professional golf, the seemingly seamless season, began again this week at La Costa Resort and Spa with the Mercedes Championships (formerly the Tournament of Champions) for 1995 tournament winners only.

Corporate sponsors might come and go - wasn't it just yesterday that the very appropriate title of this tournament was the MONY Tournament of Champions - but there is a comfortable sameness to the rhythms here at this hedonistic hideout for the buffed, fluffed and extremely well-heeled.

The year 1996 is no different. As it has annually for about the past decade, the new year launches with some burning issues related to the game's most notable player, Greg Norman.

With Norman, usually, the questions outnumber the answers. This year, though, it appears there is finally a workable theory for solving the puzzle about just what makes the Great White Shark run.

We now know why he dives to great depths and explores the underwater "cave of the sleeping sharks" off the coast of Mexico. We know why, just last week, he sat in an F-18 Hornet fighter jet that landed - repeatedly, we might add - on the deck of an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego.

We might even know why he tried to spearhead the ill-fated World Golf Tour last year or why he plans to scuba dive under the polar ice cap within the next year and a half.

It's genetic. That's right. Norman must be one of those 15 percent of the population who, according to scientific studies released on Tuesday, has the extra-long DNA sequence on part of Chromosome 11 - you know, the "thrill-seeking gene."

This new gene theory is the most logical explanation available for Norman's uncommon - and most exhilarating - behavior on and off the course.

Certainly, Norman's play was thrill-generating last year. He won four times around the world, led the PGA Tour in earnings with $1.6 million in just 16 appearances, had the best scoring average in golf by more than a half-stroke per round and was very much a contender in the Masters and the U.S. Open.

He also accused fellow competitor Mark McCumber of illegally fixing a spike mark (read: cheating) during the NEC World Series of Golf and then, after considering withdrawal, came back and won the tournament by (ho-hum) chipping in for birdie during a three-way sudden death playoff. …

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