As he bagged his clubs after a completed lacklustre round of 72, a heckler in the crowd shouted: "Why did you choke, you cost me money?"
Norman ignored the jibe, but his caddie Tony Navarro jumped the ropes to confront the staggering spectator. He was beaten to it by the crowd, who apprehended a man in his mid-20s.
The self-styled Great White Shark was the victim of a similar verbal assault here last year after finishing third at Augusta. He refused to comment but his playing partner, Charlie Rymer, said: "He was so mad he didn't say much, but he handled the situation well. I grew up in this area and I apologise to him on behalf of the other people who live here. This type of thing shouldn't happen in golf; this ain't ice hockey."
Nick Faldo, his Augusta conqueror, and Norman were swept out of contention by a superb round of 63 from the American Ryder Cup player Loren Roberts who opened his round with five birdies. He is four shots ahead of O'Meara, who shot 65, but Colin Montgomerie's hopes of a first win on US soil looked to have disappeared with his 70 left him seven shots adrift on eight-under- par 205.
Faldo finally conceded that his march to the Masters title had cost him any chance of a second successive US victory after his laboured round of 71 for a four-under 209.
"I had intended to play in next week's Greater Greensboro Open," Faldo said. "I've pulled out, because there is no point my going there when I am as tired as this. I just haven't got any more oomph in me. I did all the hard work last week.
"It will be easy golf practice and a lot of fishing before I play a couple of events in Britain and then get ready for the US Open."
It was clear that Faldo's focus was not at its best and the inevitable happened when a double-bogey six at the 11th wrecked any hope of victory. He hit a tired a three iron into a bunker, flew his recovery over the green and failed to get up and down in two - not exactly the form that brought him back from a six-shot deficit to a five-stroke triumph at Augusta last week.Reuse content