The 38-year-old Australian, whose ratio of disasters to triumphs was in the region of 7:1, exorcised the ghosts with a supreme display of power and grace under the severest pressure. Heavy rain changed the character of the course and Norman shot 64 to withstand the attack from Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer. Norman's aggregate of 267 was the lowest in the 122-year history of the Open, beating by a stroke the record set by Tom Watson at Turnberry in 1977.
Norman, who arrived at the course in a red Rolls Royce, wore a shirt of bedazzling colours. He had begun the day at seven under par, one stroke behind Faldo and finished it at 13 under, two strokes in front of the Englishman and three in front of Langer. 'I'm not one to boast but I'm just in awe of myself,' Norman said. 'To be able to say I beat those guys means a lot to me.'
Norman shot seven birdies on the last day and the only blot on the landscape came at the 17th, where he missed a putt that could be measured in inches rather than feet. Under normal circumstances a round of 67, which is what both Faldo and Langer recorded, would have been more than good enough, but on that July Sunday there was nothing normal about Norman.
'I've never had such a round,' he said. 'Every drive was perfect, every iron was perfect. It was like I was playing chess.' Faldo, on his 36th birthday, made a spirited defence of his title and was gracious in defeat. 'Welcome back,' he said to Norman who responded with: 'Happy birthday and commiserations.'
It was a more popular conquest of the south coast than the one in 1066 and Norman, after flying from Royal St George's in his private jet with the silver claret jug for company, appeared to be ready for further triumphs. In the US PGA Championship in Toledo, Ohio, Norman again had the edge over Faldo but could not shake off Paul Azinger. The two went into a sudden death play-off which the American won at the second extra hole after Norman took three putts. Even so, Norman had a great chance of finishing top of the US money list but blew it by taking bogeys at four of the last seven holes in the Tour Championship.
For Faldo it was a disappointing year in that he failed to add to his majors collection, although he remains No 1 in the world rankings. Norman, who used to be top, could have displaced Faldo had he bothered to play in the Johnnie Walker World Championship in Jamaica last week. Faldo has a few swing faults to iron out; Norman has the memory of that epic last round at Sandwich. He received the claret jug from Gene Sarazen. 'I watched every shot,' Sarazen, who won the Open at Prince's in 1932, said, 'and it was awesome.' All that remains now is for Norman to stop referring to the Open Championship as the British Open.
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