How Greg Norman, the Great White Shark, helped Dustin Johnson find his bite and become a winner

ASFN Admin

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May 8, 2002
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Way back at the start of this seemingly never-ending year, Greg Norman sensed that he would be able to provide Dustin Johnson with the tools to turn outrageous talent into legacy silverware. “If someone ever asked me who I’d like to mentor, I’d love to mentor DJ,” the Australian said in an interview in January. “DJ’s probably utilised only about 65 to 70 per cent of his talent. He should have won a lot more.” Fast forward 10 months and here is Johnson, as the Masters champion, at last holding the status of multiple major winner. And guess who has helped him hunt down that elusive Green Jacket? The Great White Shark. Granted, it may be pushing it a tad too far to name Norman as Johnson’s mentor, but there can be no doubt that the influence extends beyond a putting lesson earlier this year. It was supposedly a chance meeting at The Grove XXIII, the golf club owned by basketball legend Michael Jordan in the superstar belt of Jupiter, South Florida. Norman went to work, establishing trust on that practice green. Insiders talk since of a burgeoning relationship bound by Norman’s lessons learned from personal experience. Inevitably, it is now set only to intensify. “Don’t do as I did, do as I say,” is the answer to all those seeing a comical irony in a man labelled golf’s biggest choker advising another victim of the stretch on how to hang tough. Dustin Johnson's supremacy is the most impressive since Tiger Woods in his prime And if that will not suffice, then the detractors should simply rerun the tapes of Sunday’s final round of the 84th Masters and watch as Johnson cast off the doubt of his previous shortfalls – of holding the 54-hole lead at a major four times and never once prevailing, of five runner-up major finishes – and easing home by five shots in a Masters record low of 20-under and realise that Norman, with his eight major runner-ups, was figuratively in his corner. It was perverse, because in the hours leading up to Johnson’s 68, wisecracks actually predicted that the 36-year-old would “do a Norman” in reference to the most infamous Augusta collapse of all, when Nick Faldo overhauled a six-shot deficit. That excruciating Sunday afternoon will “celebrate” its 25th anniversary in April, although Norman’s pain might not now be so pronounced after living through a Masters victory by proxy. There were certainly echoes of this in his message to his friend on Sunday night.

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