Oaks, California, 15th November 1998
- Steve Elkington made sure that Greg Norman's return to golf was victorious
first tournament back since shoulder surgery seven months ago, Norman forced a
playoff with an 8-foot birdie on the 18th hole, then won the Shark Shootout on
the third sudden-death hole when Elkington, his partner, hit a 9-iron into 2 feet
on the same hole.
good to see the old man back playing again," Elkington said. "He did
all right today."
and Elkington closed with a 58 in the scramble format to tie the team of John Cook
and Peter Jacobsen, who tied a tournament record with a 17-under 55. Both
finished at 27-under 189.
didn't have to win this week to feel good about his game. His left shoulder felt
strong throughout the 54-hole event, his putting was superb at times and he came
up with his share of big shots throughout the day.
the gun, I felt pretty good," he said.
the closing holes belonged to Elkington, who himself missed his share of golf
this year with a litany of illnesses and injury.
8-iron into 8 feet set up the playoff, the first in the 10-year history of the
Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout. On the first playoff hole, Elkington hit his
approach into 10 feet. Norman made that one, too, a big putt coming after Cook's
20-foot birdie putt.
teams made short birdie putts on the 385-yard 10th hole, and they returned to
the 18th for the third time in about an hour.
who had put his two previous approach shots into the front bunker, this time landed
safely in the middle of the green, and Elkington took the suspense out of it by
sticking yet another one close.
and Elkington each won $160,000 from the $1.3 million purse.
importantly for Norman, it was a huge first step toward making a strong return
to golf. He'll play the Skins Game on Thanksgiving weekend, and then two events
that will matter a little bit more -- the Australian Open, followed by the Presidents
good to come back," Norman said. "It's good to feel the internal feelings
that you feel. I'm pretty happy with the way I've come back."
the tournament host, won for the first time in its 10-year history. He certainly
picked the right partner to make a victorious return -- Elkington won the team
competition for the third time in five years with his third partner.
and Cook made four eagles in their round of 17-under 55, which tied the tournament
record set in 1993 by Norman and Nick Price. They birdied the last two holes
and then had to wait about 40 minutes to see if the 189 would stand.
a while, it looked like it wouldn't.
and Elkington complemented each other beautifully throughout the round -- Elkington
hitting it stiff on the front nine and Norman making every putt, the roles reversed
on the back nine.
made three birdie putts over 15 feet on the front nine. In fact, Norman was so
pure with the putter that Elkington's first contribution with the short stick
was a 6-foot eagle putt on the 11th hole.
a three-putt par from 50 feet on the par-5 13th, Norman hit into 6 feet on each
of the next two holes for two more birdies -- both made by Elkington -- and they
were in good shape to wrap it up when Elkington hit his approach on the par-5
16th to 8 feet.
again, neither of them could make the eagle putt, and they both missed from about
20 feet on the 17th.
had said that the pressure shots was the one thing he had missed during his seven-month
hiatus from golf, and there were plenty of situations Sunday with mixed results.
Needing a birdie
on the 18th to force a playoff, Norman's 7-iron came off heavy and drifted right
and short, into a bunker. Elkington hit a hard 8-iron into 8 feet, and Norman
finally rose to the occasion by making the putt