Golf: Norman rolls in the birdies: Zoeller is left trailing in Players' Championship

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The Independent Online
Though the outcome of the Players Championship was essentially decided after Greg Norman birdied the first two holes and opened up a seven- stroke lead, a few questions were still unanswered. Was the Players' case for being golf's fifth major strengthened by the fact that Norman won, or weakened by the way he won, in a blow-out birdie festival?

The only suspense being generated was in watching Norman's bogeyless streak extend. It started at 80 holes, and went to 92 before he picked up his first bogey in eight days at the 13th hole.

Norman began the day at 19 under par. His leading margin after three rounds was four strokes, and only four players had any hope at all of catching him as the final round began, Fuzzy Zoeller, Jeff Maggert, Nick Faldo and Davis Love III. As the round progressed, with Norman pulling farther and farther away from the field with birdies on the first, second, fourth and seventh holes for a front-nine score of 32 and a 23- under-par total, only two golfers were still scoring like they thought they could win. Zoeller and Maggert were making birdies as fast as they could, but after Norman's fast start, neither could get closer than five strokes to his lead.

Faldo was turning in scores that would do him proud at a US Open, but at a demi-major like this pars are worse than useless, and at the turn Faldo was 13 strokes behind Norman.

THE PLAYERS' CHAMPIONSHIP (Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla) Final-round scores (US unless stated): 264 G Norman (Aus) 63 67 67 67. 268 F Zoeller 66 67 68 67. 271 J Maggert 65 69 69 68. Selected: 281 J-M Olazabal (Sp) 69 69 73 70. 284 B Langer (Ger) 74 68 70 72. 291 S Lyle (Sco) 71 72 71 77.

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