Golf: Of bogeys, bunkers and broomsticks: The past golf season was not an Open book. Robert Green finds 20 things you may not have known about life on the links

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The Independent Online
WHEN Greg Norman, who plays like Ben Hogan and looks like Paul Hogan, won the Open at Royal St George's in July, his total of 267 was the lowest aggregate winning score in major championship history. His years of being tormented by fate were at an end, right?

Wrong. He then gifted the USPGA Championship to Paul Azinger and bogeyed four of the last seven holes in the US Tour Championship to leave Nick Price as both the leading money winner and the Player of the Year in the States.

In Europe, the season was dominated by Colin Montgomerie, whose victory at Valderrama last week ensured that he finished on top of the Order of Merit. But you knew all that stuff already. You may not know the following facts about the past season:

1 That Norman's play-off loss to Azinger at the PGA meant he emulated the dubious achievement of Craig Wood - he has now lost a play-off for all four of the game's major championships.

2 That Azinger's caddie that week was the same man who was on Bob Tway's bag when he holed a bunker shot to beat Norman in the 1986 USPGA Championship at the same course, Inverness in Ohio.

3 That prior to 1993, on only four occasions had 70 been broken in all four rounds of a major championship. This year alone it was done six times - by Lee Janzen to win the US Open; by Norman and Ernie Els at the Open; and by Azinger, Norman and Nick Faldo at the USPGA.

4 That Faldo, the world No. 1, only won twice all year. He nearly won two majors and the Order of Merit but actually took none of them. He did have the slim consolation of making what is only the second-ever hole-in-one in the Ryder Cup.

5 That by topping the Order of Merit, Montgomerie maintained his record of year-on-year improvement since he turned pro in 1987: 164-52-25-14-4-3-1.

6 That after Seve Ballesteros's first blank year since 1975, Bernhard Langer now has the longest consecutive streak of years with a tournament win in Europe - 15.

7 That neither Ballesteros nor Jose-Maria Olazabal, who together comprise the greatest Ryder Cup partnership in history, has won a tournament since March 1992.

8 That the 'winningest' pro in Europe in 1993 was Sam Torrance, with three victories - at the Kronenbourg Open, the Heineken Open and the Honda Open. Who said drinking and driving don't mix?

9 That when Torrance won in Catalonia in April using a 'broomstick' putter, Rocco Mediate won that same week in America with a similar weapon.

10 That the wizardry of the broomstick was not confined to that week. The first three players home in the Australian Masters in February - Bradley Hughes, Peter Senior and Terry Price - all used one.

11 That there was a Kiwi treble in May. On one weekend, New Zealanders Greg Turner, Grant Waite and Bob Charles respectively won on the European, US and US Senior tours.

12 That four European women won in America this year - Trish Johnson (twice), Helen Alfredsson (in the Dinah Shore tournament, one of the women's Majors), Laura Davies and Helen Dobson. Another Briton, Suzanne Strudwick, was Rookie of the Year.

13 That the modestly-presented Little Red Book, which represents the teaching philosophies of 89-year-old Texan golf instructor Harvey Penick, has now sold more than 800,000 copies in the US, making it the fastest-selling sports book of all time. It was published in Britain last month.

14 That Madonna has reportedly taken up golf. Another best-seller in the offing there, perhaps?

15 That what was once called the 'big ball', is now the small ball. Two companies, Spalding with its Top-Elite Magna and Ram with its OS 172, introduced 1.72-inch diameter balls in 1993, as opposed to the normal 1.68in.

16 That the most disfigured ball of the year belongs to Gordon Brand Jnr. He saved the ball with which he had an albatross two in the Madrid Open and took it home for mounting. Then his dog ate it.

17 That 86 new golf courses opened in the British Isles in 1993, nine more than in 1992.

18 That the most expensive drive of the year was Ian Woosnam's 'while under the influence' in June. He wrote off his pounds 80,000 Mercedes, was fined pounds 2,200, and banned for a year. So maybe drinking and driving don't mix after all.

19 That Arnold Palmer, ever the gentleman, relinquished the bridal suite in which he had been ensconced for the Senior British Open at Lytham so that a newly-married couple could spend their first night of marriage in it.

20 That with one event still to play on the 1993 schedule, Dave Stockton has won dollars 1,115,944 on the US Senior tour. This proves there is indecently lucrative life after Ryder Cup captaincy, which explains why Tony Jacklin has emigrated to Florida and can't wait to turn 50 next July.

(Photograph omitted)

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