Norman enjoying public reaction

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The Independent Online

Greg Norman was bowed but not broken, as he proved by moving into contention for the MCI Classic here in South Carolina yesterday.

Norman knows that last Sunday's stunning defeat by Nick Faldo in the Masters will never be forgotten but the memory of messages of overwhelming sympathy will remain with him for the rest of his life.

"This has been the most touching few days of my entire career - my entire life," said Norman, after posting a 69 for a four-under-par 138. He added: "I can honestly tell you that it has changed my total outlook on life and people. I've admitted in the past how cynical I have become but there is no need for me to be cynical any more."

The goodwill messages are running at least four times the total he received after winning the Open Championship at Royal St George's in 1993. Norman said: "I never thought I could reach out and touch people like that. It's extraordinary how I touched people by losing. It is amazing that something so bad can become so good, but it really has. It has changed my life. I have become a different and better person since seven o'clock last Sunday night."

His wife Laura told him: "You know, maybe this is better than winning a green jacket. Maybe now you understand the importance of it all." Norman added: "It's almost as though, like Laura said, I've won something even though I lost a Masters. I now have a lot of things I'll be able to cherish."

Faldo admitted to feeling the effects of his Masters marathon but still recorded a 68 for a four-under-par 138. He managed only three birdies but had a flawless card and said afterwards: "I am doing okay. Augusta jet-lag has hit me and the last four holes were a real struggle. I played well enough but I couldn't get that final push. But I am only four shots behind and anything can happen."

Scotland's Colin Montgomerie was cherishing hopes of a first win in America after a 66, laden with six birdies, swept him to within one stroke of the half-way target set by Jeff Sluman (67) and Tom Watson (67).