With pandemonium all around him, Norman chose to hit a three-wood from the 18th tee. The shot was fine and straight, except that it left him holding his four-iron, which in Norman's hands lately works about like a waffle iron. It was the four-iron he had hit into the gallery at 10 to set up the double bogey.
He sliced it this time into the gallery ringing the 18th green, and couldn't get up and down for par, his 16-footer missing left. "I just basically spun out and pushed it to the right," Norman explained. "I was trying to hit it too hard and too high.... I was going for the flag. I was going for the birdie and the win. It was the first time all week I let my ego get the best of me."
Your usual, Jack, 42 regular?
"This," said Nicklaus in triumph, "was maybe as fine a round of golf as I've ever played."
He drove down Magnolia Lane and out the iron gates in green for a preposterous sixth time. He had won at Augusta in 1963, when Sam Snead finished two strokes back, and '65, '66, '72, '75 and now, '86. That's a 23-year span between his first and last fitting. His original jacket was a 44 long. "It fits me like a tent," he said. "I wore [New York Governor] Tom Dewey's jacket for years, and finally I had my own jacket made."
His record of longevity and dominance is un-equaled. And that includes his victories in five PGA Championships (1963, '71, '73, '75, '80), four U.S. Opens ('62, '67, '72, '80), three British Opens ('66, '70, '78) and two U.S. Amateurs ('59 and '61). He has now won three majors in his 40s, which is another first.
All of which says, truly, once and for all, that if there ever was a better golfer than Jack William Nicklaus, then Woody Allen can dunk.
"I finally found that guy I used to know on the golf course," Nicklaus told his wife, Barbara. "It was me."
So welcome back.