Australian invasion at Royal Birkdale
SOUTHPORT, England -- Shawn Malone brought an Australian flag to Royal Birkdale this week, but he never expected to wave it for Greg Norman.
“In truth I didn’t expect to bring it out at all,” he said.
As his country’s biggest sports hero made the most unlikely late-career stab at glory since Roy Hobbs played right field for the New York Knights, Malone joined dozens of fellow Aussies in waving the Australian flag for Norman at Royal Birkdale on Saturday.
“We back him 100 percent,” said Malone, a 23-year-old visiting from Australia. He was with a group of five friends, all waving flags for Norman. While the time difference means it’ll be the middle of the night in Australia when Norman plays Sunday, Malone said that sports fans back home will still be watching.
“A lot of people will be skipping work Monday,” he said.
Ben Smith, 27, was waving a flag for Norman as well. A native Australian, Smith lives in London, where he works as a teacher. He said the Australian community in Britain is sizable, and they’ll be out in force to cheer Norman tomorrow at golf clubs and London pubs like the Walkabout Inn.
He was cautious about predicting a Norman win, however.
“We hope he does it, but I don’t want to talk too soon.” Smith said. “In truth, I bet on Stuart Appleby.”