July 19, 2008

Greg Norman leads British Open

Golf has more randomness than most other sports, so it often has weirder storylines than say, tennis, where the same few people dominate for several years on end. For example, with one round left in the British Open, the leader by two shots is 53-year-old Greg Norman, whom I had assumed until this weekend had given up the game to concentrate on his many business interests.

Norman was the dominant personality of the 1985 to 1996 era in golf, between the primes of Tom Watson and Tiger Woods. He never won as much as you'd expect from his talent, partly for his own fault (e.g., his collapse in 1996 Masters after leading by six strokes) and partly through bad luck (he might have won three straight major championships in 1986-87, but his opponents chipped in on the last hole for miracle birdies). He was probably the greatest driver off the tee for length and accuracy since Sam Snead. But his charismatic personality might have been a too swashbuckling for golf, which most rewards ultra-disciplined people like Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods.

The question about Norman was always why this magnificent specimen of rampant masculinity had chosen golf, rather than, say, rugby, Australian rules football, or even boxing (which was seriously suggested in Golf Digest). Considering the popularity of Australian leading men in recent decades, he might have made his fortune as a movie star. Thus, it wasn't surprising when he became one of the few top pros to largely give up golf as he reached 50, the age at which most start competing on the pleasant little Champions Tour. Maybe golf really wasn't his game.

Norman attributes the resurgence of his golf game to playing lots of tennis with his new bride, Chris Evert, the great ladies' tennis champion. They were married earlier this year after mutual messy divorces. Evert is both very competitive and very feminine, which has made for an interesting private life, with her name linked romantically over the years to various hard-chargers such as Jimmy Connors, Burt Reynolds, and Geraldo Rivera. So, it's not surprising she's ended up with as extraordinary an alpha male as Norman.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Maybe golf really wasn't his game."

For him to succeed as well as he has in golf anyway, I wonder if he's simply got a high native Performance IQ.

nsam said...

Steve

could you do the rest of us a favor by disallowing anon comments? its easy enough to get a blogger acc and maintain some continuity in online persona.

Anonymous said...

I feel this post is a little misleading.

It doesn't make clear to readers who don't follow sports that Norman is considered the biggest choker of his or possibly any era.

Shep S. said...

"magnificent specimen of rampant masculinity"

I think that has to be the gayest phrase I've ever read on your blog, Stevie.

Keep it up!! ;)

Lucius Vorenus said...

"Greg Norman stole my wife, says Chris Evert's ex"

Man - that sucks for him - they made three babies together back in the 1990s.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Steve Sailer: her name linked romantically over the years to various hard-chargers such as... Burt Reynolds

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that Burt Reynolds is gay. [Or maybe you were being sarcastic?]

American Goy said...

yawn

kj said...

So, it's not surprising she's ended up with as extraordinary an alpha male as Norman.

Actually, it is surprising because Norman is a wealthy attractive alpha who could easily marry a woman in her 20s but instead married Evert, a woman in her fifties. Which I guess makes her an alpha too.

Steve Sailer said...

That she is.

Mickey said...

When he turned 50 back in 2005, Greg did join the Champions' tour and had plans to play most of the events, but his interest evidently waned and he's only played 3 to date (the British Seniors at Royal Troon next week would be his fourth).

Playing tournament golf, even on the Champions tour, is less about physical skills than it is about mental ones, and Norman doesn't have his head in the game anymore. These days his mind is on business — his Great White Shark Enterprises has been conservatively estimated to be worth $350 million, more than 25 times the $14 million he won on the PGA Tour — and on tennis and his fiancee, Chris Evert.

Link

jody said...

All this shows is how low the level of play in competitive golf really is.

teacher.paris said...

Fawning on two tramps is demeaning, degrading and dishonorable.

rast said...

Threadjack:

'Time' Publishes Definitive Obama Puff Piece

Brad G said...

I from Norman's home state in Australia, Queensland. I mentioned to my Dad (who is about Normans age) that his success in this Open is due to it being played on a links course. Dad replied that this is true but he believes that it is primarily down to Norman taking pressure off himself by not going into the tournament with high expectations.
He believes the 'chokes' in the US majors were down to Norman wanting it too much.

Jody said...

To other jody (the existence of which, I find weird in and of itself):

Not really. Add a big enough noise term to a strong signal and you'll get a bunch of outliers.

The traditional way to reduce the effect of noise on estimates of a signal is to take more samples and average - which is why the world golf rankings takes samples over two years. If you look at that list, it's very stable at the top - basically Greg Norman for the first decade and Tiger ever since.

It's not the metric I would use to determine whether or not players were playing well, but it is a minor variation on your metric with the noise term more suppressed (I would look at tournaments which matched up the second tier, e.g., Nike against tour players or look at the average position of amateurs).

halfbreed said...

Lucius -- Can't ascertain it, but I've heard the same thing about Reynolds.

ben tillman said...

could you do the rest of us a favor by disallowing anon comments? its easy enough to get a blogger acc

You don't even need a blogger account. Just click on the circle next to "Name/URL", a box will open, and you can type a name in the space.

Anonymous said...

You sound like a school girl whose in love with him.

Facefree said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that Burt Reynolds is gay. [Or maybe you were being sarcastic?]

You're mistaken. Rumors about leading men's gayness are less revealing about said leading men than they are about those circulating the rumors. Gay men, over-represented in the entertainment industry, rumor-monger as a symptom of wishful thinking; they attribute gayness to those highly attractive male celebrities they wish were gay. Notice that you've never encountered such rumors about John Candy or Gary Coleman.

Anonymous said...

Was it Evert who, in a public interview, said that when her husband of the time had passed his competitive sports peak, she thought of him as less of a man?

Divortex said...

Leaving your husband of 18 years and father of your three children is just gross. Both should have their assets seized and land salted and be imprisoned for, say 5 years. Give Evert an extra year to "gender normalize" the sentencing. I'm serious.

Those of us who grew up in broken homes didn't find it "groovy" at all. We manage, but the dynamics of divorce are weird: neither parent has incentive to have a relationship with their kids (pensions) and indeed have a disincentive: having to face the consequences of your failings and mayber answer some uncomfortable questions.

Divorced parents don't want their kids to succeed because people will start asking why they abandoned such successful children. Took me 37 years to figure that one out. Nobody is in your corner when both parents remarry.

When the divorce happens when kids are young they are more often than not viewed as a liability to be booted from the home in mid-teens. And any of you guys who have dated single moms know exactly what I am talking about: they're shockingly frank about hating their kids and wanting them out of the house as soon as legally permissible. Well, I was once that kid.

Compare with China. We're f*cked.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Divortex - hang in there, dude.

Concerned said...

Why did Norman not take up rugby or "footy" (Australian rules football).

Because rugby has a reputation in Oz for being the sport of working-class meatheads.

As for footy, it wasn't popular in QLD when he was growing up there, unless you were Aboriginal. At that point it was a largely Victorian affair amongst Australian whites.

His mother was a scratch golfer. Parental influence (contra Judith Rich Harris) is important.

Staash said...

Steve, more posts like this would be appreciated. Personally, the IQ stuff bores me to tears; you're much more entertaining when writing about sports, music, movies, and tattoos.

Speaking of music and movies, I'm curious to know your take on the Ian Curtis bio-flick "Control". You never seem to mention Joy Division when discussing post-punk / new wave, but they are arguably the most influential band from that era, despite producing only one real album.

Anonymous said...

There is lots of discussion of women being attracted to alpha males - this may be the case

however, there seem to be a number of phenom going on.

it appears that women are driven to feel attracted to the men with the HIGHEST status in the social circle.

In some social circles the highest status goes to the men with the most money - so a woman in this circle will choose a man with no muscle mass and a few million bucks in the bank.

In some other social circles the highest status goes to the men with the largest muscle mass - and women in this circle choose accordingly.

it is unfair to generalize - some women do indeed pass up the men with the most muscle for the men with the most money - different groups have different status markers

Anonymous said...

Steve, in your native Los Angeles, many different communities have different status markers.

Status is not one linear spectrum, rather it is a multi dimensional matrix


For example, The Manhattan beach sand section has an anti-intellectual culture - in manhattan beach athletic ability counts for a great deal of the status points accorded to men. Once you narrow the field to only the men who can pay the high price for a house in the sand section, the status competition is based on athletics

On Mount Olympus, athletic ability is not an issue - status is driven by connections in the entertainment industry

And in San Marino, status is accorded to intellectual achievements - not to athletic ability or to entertainment industry connections.

different status markets are present in different geographies.

Men would be well advised to understand where they will be valued the most and move to that neighborhood -

josh said...

"Because rugby has a reputation in Oz for being the sport of working-class meatheads."

Not Union.

Do we know that he didn't play rugby in high school? Maybe he just wasn't world class at it. Most people aren't, you know.

Concerned said...

"Golf has more randomness than most other sports, so it often has weirder storylines than say, tennis, where the same few people dominate for several years on end."

I disagree with this. 1) you can only compare golf to other non-team sports. 2) like tennis, golf is dominated by one or two supreme players per era. I don't see the randomness at all.

"Evert is both very competitive and very feminine, "

the two are hardly incompatible. The underlying quality is extremeness. I give this relationship a slight chance of survival.

Jolie & Pitt are a more interesting celeb-couple. They are both so parental. I don't associate that with spectacularly good-looking people.

Anonymous said...

@ divortex,

And any of you guys who have dated single moms know exactly what I am talking about: they're shockingly frank about hating their kids and wanting them out of the house as soon as legally permissible.

Actually, my experience has been the opposite. Single motherhood takes priority over romantic relationships. They initially enter the dating pool, then back out when they see it requires a commitment of time and energy that is pretty scarce after supervising youngsters all day. I think the attitude is along the lines of "I failed as a wife, I don't want to fail as a mother."

-Senor Doug

Josh said...

Thoughts: A) Burt Reynolds is NOT gay!! Sure,his 2 best friends are Dom DeLouise and Charles Nelson Reilly...but that tells you nothing! B)I had barely known anythin' about this Grg Norman until this weekend.A Trib sports guy wrote a near-gushing piece about driving thru the outback with Norman and barely surviving the wild ride,and now Steve is extolling him here. Too bad he isnt closer to Tigers age! PS:Padraig Harrington won the whole she-bang and I fully expect Simon Nueman et al to jump in feverishly with theories about low IQ Irish golfers getting lucky...:^

Hibernia Girl said...

Yay Padraig Harrington! :-D

(No, I don't know nuthin' about golf -- to me Da's shame and embarrassment -- but I thought I'd better cheer on a local lad.)

Lucius Vorenus said...

Divortex: And any of you guys who have dated single moms know exactly what I am talking about: they're shockingly frank about hating their kids and wanting them out of the house as soon as legally permissible.

Anonymous: Actually, my experience has been the opposite. Single motherhood takes priority over romantic relationships. They initially enter the dating pool, then back out when they see it requires a commitment of time and energy that is pretty scarce after supervising youngsters all day. I think the attitude is along the lines of "I failed as a wife, I don't want to fail as a mother."

You know, if I had been asked about this before reading Divortex's analysis, I might have blurted out something like Anon.

But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if Divortex might be on to something - I may have seen some glimmers of this phenomenon in some girls I know [I'll definitely keep an eye peeled for it now that Divortex has alerted me to it].

And it certainly agrees with a lot of the horror stories you hear on Dr. Laura's show, where e.g. the grandmother ends up with the kids simply because the Mom is a good-for-nothing skanky ho.

ben tillman said...

it appears that women are driven to feel attracted to the men with the HIGHEST status in the social circle.

....

In some other social circles the highest status goes to the men with the largest muscle mass - and women in this circle choose accordingly.


And this points to one of the most disastrous aspects of forced racial integration of schools. The time when white girls are most sexually vulnerable (junior high) coincides with the time when black boys are most socially dominant within the school "circle".

Anonymous said...

People seem to forget with all the mention of choking that Norman is a double major champion!! Why would he have been better off choosing another sport when he was world number 1 !!!!!!! he is one of the greatest players to every play the game. Anybody who knows golf knows this guy ranks in the top 15.

Faldo for instance won 6 majors but its still obvious that norman was a better golfer. He won numerous more PGA tournaments. Majors are not everything in the game. I am European and am the first to admit this guy was ten times the golfer the likes of faldo ever were.

Norman has nothing to prove, 88 tournament wins, 2 majors and a players championship. Not to mention the lowest aggregate score in British Open and Players Championship history!!!

Hardly shabby