Friday, August 01, 2008

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Greg Norman easily drew the biggest crowds Thursday at the U.S. Senior Open, as fans turned out by the thousands for a rare Shark sighting, mindful it will likely be his last official golf appearance of 2008.

But his new wife Chris Evert left little doubt where she would like her husband's first U.S. appearance of 2009 to be — the Masters.

"I've never been to the Masters before, but it would be great," she said.

After watching her husband shoot an even-par 70 in Thursday's first round, Evert sounded happy to make the rounds at Augusta National next April.

"I've watched it every year on TV and it's great," she said. "I've watched a lot of golf on TV lately, but never gotten to go to the (Masters) tournament."

Evert ruled the world of professional tennis for more than a decade, winning 18 Grand Slam Events and regularly touring the hallowed cathedrals of the pro tennis world.

But the green grass shrine at Augusta National is one she would be eager to visit.

"I've only been to Augusta once and that's when Greg got some kind of award. But I didn't get to see the course."

Norman, who earned his '09 Masters invite by finishing in the top four at the British Open this year, has told an Australian paper he looks forward to returning to Augusta. But he said Thursday it was too early to make his final 2009 travel plans.

"I'd rather win the Senior Open."

Perhaps Evert hasn't closely reviewed her husband's record at the Masters before making her travel request.

No golf course on earth has dealt Norman more misery or heartbreak than the scenic Georgia design, home of the season's first major championship.

Norman has finished second at the Masters three times — in 1986, 1987 and 1996 — each in tragic fashion. His '86 runner-up performance came when Jack Nicklaus won his record sixth Green Jacket with a back nine 30 and Norman had a chance, but failed to catch him, on the 18th hole.

In '87, Norman was the victim of the Larry Mize playoff chip-in on the par-4 11th hole. But perhaps the most painful was 1996, when he took a six-shot lead to the final round only to implode and lose to Nick Faldo. He last played the Masters in 2002. Norman is not scheduled to play in any further Champions Tour or PGA Tour events this year having turned down an invitation to play in next week's PGA Championship.

He has indicated he will return to the Father-Son Championship in December with his son Gregory, and Norman also plans to play in a tournament in Australia early next year.

But if he takes his wife's travel directions, expect to see Norman among the Augusta National azaleas next April for one more springtime stroll.

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