Norman's question time

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The Independent Online
EARLY yesterday, on a moody, threatening morning at Augusta National, the leaderboards showed just two names. With time to kill until the afternoon showdown, the attention was inevitably on Greg Norman and Nick Faldo.

The close atmosphere that settled over the tops of the pines cloaked the tension of a meeting between two men who crave something of the other. Norman, the No1 in the world, seeking an item of clothing that his money cannot buy, nor his design label provide for him. Faldo, possessor of green jackets of 1989 and 1990 vintage, is the only man to come close to Norman's record run at the top of the world rankings.

Norman always seeks to dominate and after his typically outrageous opening round of 63 on Thursday the only questions were "How many will he win by?" and "How will he blow up this time?" Friday's 69 was the perfect follow-up, a better round, he thought, given the wind and the hardening greens, than that of the day before. A four-shot halfway lead was the least it deserved. But he may not have relished the name displayed immediately below his.

But neither Norman or Faldo imagined it was a two-horse race. "The guys on the leaderboard are playing good golf, irrespective of who they are," the Australian said. "They are not just going to come here, play one round and disappear. You have got guys who have won many major championships up there on that board. You expect to see that but you don't pay attention to it because you have got to do the job yourself."

Of those within 10 shots of Norman, only one man has won more than one major, although the names of Corey Pavin and Bob Tway among that list mean something to Norman. The two-time British Open champion is desperate for a major win in his adopted home of America, but Pavin shut him out of last year's US Open and Tway holed a bunker shot at the last to win the 1986 US PGA, the year of his Saturday Slam, when he led after the third round of each major, but won only at Turnberry. Norman hardly needs a reminder of his many disasters at Augusta, which have seen him finish second and third twice, and fourth, fifth and sixth once each.

Then there is Faldo and the 1990 Open. Head-to-head in the third round at St Andrews, Faldo shot 67 and won at a canter the following day. Norman bombed to a 76. "The important thing for me was winning the Open," Faldo said when asked about that day. "Everyone has made a big thing of the third day that year, but I was trying to make a score. I am in charge of my score, I can't influence anyone else, so the rest of it is history."

But it is no coincidence that for a year or so afterwards Norman was a shadow of his former Sharkness. He got the bite back in time to shoot a final-round 64 at Royal St George's in 1993 to overtake Faldo, and after the Englishman just failed to make a playoff for that year's US PGA - in which Paul Azinger beat Norman - it was his turn for a slump.

For two years Faldo was nowhere to be seen in majors. "It is nice to be in contention again in a major," he said. "That's what it is about. That's what we play for."

It is what Faldo lives for, and was behind his decision to move to the US tour last year. So far this season has been, he said, "A case of waiting for something. This is it. I'm scrambling well and taking my chances. Greg looks in control of everything, and you have got to do the same. You have got enough on your plate playing Augusta."

It helps to get the sort of break that Norman, who is 24 under par for his last five rounds here, got on Friday, when his tee shot at the dangerous 12th stayed up on the bank in front of Rae's Creek, just like when Fred Couples won in 1992. "I knew the grass was a bit longer there. I wasn't concerned. Well, maybe I was. But I though of Freddie making a three and that's what I did."

The tricks Augusta National can play are enough to send sane men mad. "They should provide straightjackets when you come off," said Mark Roe, who missed the cut, along with David Gilford, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance, Costantino Rocca and amateur champion Gordon Sherry. Gilford's was the saddest demise, after his 69 on Thursday. He would have survived had he holed a 10-foot putt at the last, or had Brad Faxon, after driving into the trees, not chipped and putted for par to become the 44th and last player in at two over.

Augusta is also getting to Colin Montgomerie, the European No 1, of whom so much was expected. "God, this bloody course," said the Scot after his birdie at the last on Friday kept him, like Seve Ballesteros, in the tournament. He should ask Norman about it.

Crenshaw's diary, page 30

Full second-round scores from Augusta

US unless stated; * amateur

132

G Norman (Aus) 63 69

136

N Faldo (GB) 69 67

138

D Frost (SA) 70 68

P Mickelson 65 73

139

L Janzen 68 71

B Tway 67 72

140

S McCarron 70 70

V Singh (Fiji) 69 71

S Hoch 67 73

141

C Pavin 75 66

I Woosnam (GB) 72 69

142

E Els (SA) 71 71

J Huston 71 71

B Estes 71 71

F Nobilo (NZ) 71 71

143

M O'Meara 72 71

D Love III 72 71

D Waldorf 72 71

F Funk 71 72

J Haas 70 73

J Nicklaus 70 73

144

A Cejka (Ger) 73 71

L Roberts 71 73

M Calcavecchia 71 73

J Maggert 71 73

R Floyd 70 74

P Azinger 70 74

145

J Furyk 75 70

B Langer (Ger) 75 70

T Lehman 75 70

H Irwin 74 71

D Duval 73 72

C Stadler 73 72

J Daly 71 74

S Lowery 71 74

S Simpson 69 76

146

F Couples 78 68

L Mize 75 71

S Ballesteros (Sp) 73 73

C Montgomerie (GB) 72 74

J Leonard 72 74

N Price (Zim) 71 75

J Gallagher Jnr 70 76

B Faxon 69 77

Missed cut

147

T Watson 75 72

F Zoeller 74 73

J Sluman 74 73

T Tryba 72 75

T Aaron 71 76

D Gilford (GB) 69 78

148

M Brooks 72 76

H Sutton 72 76

M Ozaki (Japan) 71 77

C Strange 71 77

B Glasson 71 77

149

S Stricker 80 69

S Lyle (GB) 75 74

G Player (SA) 73 76

M Campbell (NZ) 73 76

150

N Lancaster 76 74

T Woods* 75 75

P Stewart 74 76

A Palmer 74 76

151

S Torrance (GB) 80 71

B Crenshaw 77 74

S Higashi (Japan) 76 75

E Dougherty 76 75

K Triplett 76 75

152

T Herron 76 76

K Perry 75 77

T Kite 75 77

G Brewer 75 77

P Stankowski 74 78

153

W Austin 79 74

D Edwards 79 74

C Rocca (It) 78 75

B Bryant 78 75

M Roe (GB) 74 79

154

B Mayfair 77 77

155

G Sherry* (GB) 78 77

S Elkington (Aus) 76 79

B Henninger 76 79

D A Weibring 74 81

157

I Baker-Finch (Aus) 78 79

158

C Wollmann* 79 79

P Goydos 74 83

160

C Coody 82 78

B Marucci* 79 81

M McCumber 78 82

J Courville Jnr* 78 82

161

B Casper 75 86

169

D Ford 81 88

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