Teacher had faith in Woods Harmon had no fears of Norman-like rerun

April 14, 1997|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A year ago, Butch Harmon spent one of the FTC longest days in his career as a golf teacher watching Greg Norman blow a six-shot lead and lose the Masters to Nick Faldo.

Harmon, Norman's teacher at the time, took that memory to Augusta National with him yesterday -- but he knew that it wasn't going to happen again.

He knew that his latest star client, Tiger Woods, wasn't going to let his record nine-shot lead going into the final round of the 61st Masters slip away.

"Tiger is a much smarter player than Greg Norman because he's not going to take the same chances," Harmon said after Woods won by a tournament-record 12 shots. "He also doesn't have the history of losing here that Greg had."

It was a comfortable day for Harmon, who comes from a prestigious golfing family that includes four brothers, all of whom are club pros. It ended for Harmon in his second green jacket ceremony at the Masters.

"But it will be the first I'll remember because when my dad [Claude] won it, I was only 5 years old," he said.

Elder is a Tiger fan

Woods was born Dec. 30, 1975, some 8 1/2 months after Lee Elder became the first black player to appear in the Masters. The significance of those dates was not lost on Elder, who has known Woods since the young star was 14.

"It's interesting how these things work in cycles," Elder said. "Just like it's interesting that Tiger's victory comes nearly 50 years to the day since Jackie Robinson first appeared in a major-league ballgame."

Elder, who now plays the PGA Senior Tour, vowed last night to be at every major championship in which Woods has a chance to win. When somebody kidded him that he may have to cut down on his playing schedule, Elder said, "I'll still play, but if I can be there I will."

Elder was touched when Woods mentioned him at the jacket ceremony, just as Woods was touched when Elder came to the practice chipping area before the round.

"He made me cry when he walked up the 18th fairway," Elder said, "and he made me cry with that speech."


Woods talked by phone to President Clinton, who told him "the best shot he saw all week was the shot of me hugging my dad." Fred Funk finished his best Masters with a par 72, giving him a four-round total of par 288. It was good for a 17th-place tie for the former University of Maryland coach, and marked the first time that he automatically qualified for a return trip. Jack Nicklaus broke another Masters record, but not the kind he wanted to hear about. After setting the record for most rounds played -- yesterday's 6-over 78 was the 147th for the six-time champion -- Nicklaus said, "Another old-age mark."

Pub Date: 4/14/97

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