For second time in 4 years, injury sends Norman home early U.S OPEN

June 15, 1991|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Correspondent

CHASKA, MINN. — /TC CHASKA, Minn. -- Greg Norman walked stiffly from the physical-therapy trailer to a waiting car yesterday at Hazeltine National Golf Club and was gone. Another U.S. Open had closed prematurely for him.

A hip problem that had begun last week at the Buick Classic and flared up in the early-morning hours yesterday prompted Norman to withdraw after 27 holes of the 91st Open. Norman was 5-over par at the time, 1-under for the round.

"It's disappointing," Norman said. "I thought I was a pretty fit guy. I've been doing a lot of stretching, but not a lot of strengthening, and I think that might have led to this problem."

It marked the second time in the past four years that Norman has withdrawn from the Open because of injury. At the 1988 championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., Norman hurt his wrist when his club hit a rock during the second round.

Norman, who took five weeks off earlier this year because of mental fatigue, said he won't play again until the British Open next month. He was scheduled to play at the Western Open two weeks before the British Open and will need to pick up another event later this year to satisfy the tour requirement of 15.

"We felt it was in his best interest not to continue," said Brett Fisher, one of the physical therapists employed by the PGA Tour. "We didn't feel it was worth it to make it any worse. We had advised him not to play this morning, but Greg wanted to give it a shot."

Laura Norman, the player's wife, said her husband had complained of pain shooting down from his hip into his legs early yesterday morning and that it had worsened on the front nine. Norman said later that the pain intensified after he hit a 4-iron on the third hole.

It is only the latest chapter in a soap-opera saga for Norman this year. He has been fined for criticizing a TPC course in Florida in March, complained of burnout after the five-week break and has yet to win a tournament.

"I'm not jumping up and down with joy," said Norman, 35. "You never expect something like this. You start to wonder, is it going to be the same? But I'm sure it will."

Laura Norman had a suggestion for her husband.

"Maybe he should just start over in 1992," she said.

* With a lot less fanfare, Ken Green also withdrew yesterday. It had nothing to do with a physical problem. It had to do mostly with what Green shot in Thursday's opening round: 81.

"I just wasn't mentally there," said Green, who didn't even bother showing up for the second round and returned home to Danbury, Conn. "I just didn't want to deal with it, so I didn't."

The other player to withdraw was Ronan Rafferty of Britain.

* Extra precautions were taken by tournament officials yesterday in the wake of Thursday's lightning strike, which left one spectator dead and five injured.

But misfortune continued to plague Hazeltine. Nine spectators were injured, none seriously, yesterday morning when a portion of the bleachers by the ninth green collapsed.

"Two were taken to the hospital for cuts and bruises and released," said a USGA spokesman.

* Former University of Maryland golf coach and current touring pro Fred Funk missed the cut for the fourth straight time. A 4-over 76 yesterday put Funk at 7-over 151.

"I played better than I did Thursday, but I putted worse," said Funk, who has not played well since a fifth-place finish last month at the Colonial.

Woodmont head pro Bob Boyd also missed the cut, at 6-over 150 after a pair of 75s.

* Fuzzy Zoeller's hole-in-one on the fourth hole was the second in two days on the 194-yard par-3. John Inman had one there Thursday.

Odds and ends

Best score: 67, by Corey Pavin.

Worst score: 83, by Jack Kay Jr. and Darrell Kestner.

Best hole: Hole-in-one by Fuzzy Zoeller on 194-yard fourth hole; eagle 3 on par-5 seventh hole by Bob Lasken; eagle 2 on par-4 12th hole by Lasken, who finished at 74.

Worst hole: Triple-bogey 8 by Jon Hough (par-5, 15th); triple-bogey 8 by Brian Tennyson (par-5) seventh.

Largest margin of difference between first and second round: 12 shots, Tom Byrum (68-80),

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