With his new bride watching from the sidelines at the British Open, an Old Grey Shark has captivated the sporting world.
But whilst the 53 year old veteran Australian golfer didn’t win, Greg Norman did strike a major blow for older golfers everywhere and provide a massive incentive and inspiration to keep on swinging.
Of course it was a huge disappointment that he failed to capitalise on his third round lead – at least he lost to an Irishman named Paddy – but his achievement should be congratulated and celebrated.
As Norman said after his loss: “I can walk away from here being disappointed, but I can walk away from here with my head held high because I hung in there.”
As was endlessly repeated during the tournament, the 53 year old had put himself in a position to be the oldest ever major winner.
It would have been an historic and hugely popular win – as you could imagine, here at Australian Senior Golfer we were amongst those salivating at the prospect – but not to be.
What Greg Norman did prove, especially with the whole package of the British Open lead, the Bahamas wedding to Chirs Evert and the dignified defeat, is that there is life after 50.
To those of us around or over that age it comes as no surprise or shock. The older you get – apart from maybe a few creaks, pains and physical limitations – you still largely feel the same as you did as a teenager. The “old” people are always those people just over the horizon. But try telling that to the “younger” generation.
A lot of people seemed genuinely surprised that at his “advanced” age Norman was up and around on his own, let alone in danger of winning one of the most coveted prizes in golf for the third time.
What does often change as you get older are your priorities.
“….a lot of people should take stock, no matter how old you are, if you really want to chase something and chase a dream, you can go do it.” Greg Norman
As Norman said:” Quite honestly, I’m sure I surprised a lot of people. But at the same time, immediately I think about it now, what happens if I won. What happens if I won, then I might have had to be out here playing more golf, and maybe that’s what I didn’t want to do anyway.”
Norman is due to play in the upcoming Senior British Open and the Senior US Open and has made no commitments after that. His third placing means, among other things, an automatic invitation to the US Masters next year. Now that would be interesting.
Commenting on the physical aspects of his age on his golf, Norman said: “I made the comment in the pressroom a couple days ago that the only thing that would have been different was my shot-making ability. That would have been the only thing different. Even Judy Rankin said that watching me play, as she did for the last couple days on ABC television back in the States, that there wasn’t a whole lot wrong with my game. I’ve still got the components in there.”
On his performance generally he said: “I think it’s a great indicator for every player out there, whether you’re just coming on the Tour for the first year or you’re turning 40 or in your 50s. The game of golf is there to be played, and if you go in there with the right attitude and keep yourself physically fit, you can put yourself in that position no matter what.
“If I’m a young kid, looking now and seeing a guy at 53 years old leading the British Open and I’m only 18, I’m going to say, boy, I’ve got a lot of years left in my career. I think it’s great, I really do.”
And as a final inspiration: “I’ve said this before, I think at the end of the day, a lot of people should take stock, no matter how old you are, if you really want to chase something and chase a dream, you can go do it. Even though there’s failure at the end of it for me, I still put myself in position to really show a lot of other people that you can go do something if you really want it.”
Update: Greg Norman finished in a tie for fifth in the Senior British Open at Troon in Scotland, four shots behind eventual champion Bruce Vaughan, who beat fellow American John Cook in a play-off.