Golf: Shark victory is `perfect' for Norman

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GREG NORMAN made a triumphant return to competition by winning the Shark Shootout at Thousand Oaks in California. Norman, who hosts the tournament, teamed up with fellow Australian Steve Elkington to net the first prize of pounds 200,000 at the third play-off hole.

Norman, who had been out of action since April after surgery on his left shoulder, celebrated a perfect comeback by winning the tournament for the first time, rolling in the deciding putt to defeat the Americans Peter Jacobsen and John Cook.

"This is a perfect place for me to come back, at a team event," said Norman. "I felt the rush, which I needed to feel. The more I was under the gun, the more I got back in the groove." Norman, 43, has won 18 PGA titles and the Open twice as well as being the Tour's all-time money winner with more than pounds 8m. But this was only his fourth event this year because of his operation.

Jacobsen and Cook forced the play-off by pulling level with the Australians on a three-round score of 189 with a tremendous final round of 17-under-par 55 - a tournament record.

Hale Irwin has won his third tournament in eight days, beating his Senior PGA Tour rival Gil Morgan 6 and 5 in the finals of the inaugural Senior Match Play Challenge. Irwin, who had defeated David Graham 6 and 4 in the morning semi-finals, earned $240,000 for Sunday's win at Bighorn Golf Club, Palm Desert.

Earlier in the week, he had won the Senior Tour Championship and was a member of the winning senior tour team in the Wendy's Three-Tour Challenge. Irwin's eight-day earnings were an incredible $687,000.

The Frenchman Olivier Edmond has become the 34th recipient of the coveted Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award on the European tour. The 28- year-old, who came through the tour's qualifying school at the fifth attempt, was joint second in the Peugeot French Open and kept his card for 1999 by finishing 93rd on the Order of Merit with pounds 69,269.

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