Greg Norman offers up classy reflection on 25-year anniversary of Masters choke


Twenty-five years on from one of Australian sport’s most crushing defeats, Greg Norman has no trouble sleeping at night.

The upcoming Masters, which kicks off later this week, marks a quarter-of-a-century since the Aussie golf icon famously capitulated in heartbreaking fashion at Augusta to give up what everyone assumed was an unassailable lead and gift Nick Faldo the trophy.

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Starting the final round with a six-shot lead, the only person who could beat Norman was himself. So the story goes, British golf writer Peter Dobereiner bumped into the The Shark before his final round and told him: “Well, Greg. Not even you can f*** this up now.”

Talk about famous last words.

Norman fell apart on the back nine to lose the unlosable tournament by a staggering five strokes, and he ended his career without donning the most famous green jacket in sport.

But the nightmare that was 1996 is not a memory that lives rent free in Norman’s head

“I don’t reflect on it. Time goes by, it’s the only thing you cannot stop,” he told The Observer. “It only really comes up when other people want to speak about it.

“I don’t lie in bed of a night thinking back to what happened 25 years ago.”

In fact, Norman has a healthy perspective — and a somewhat surprising one, given the magnitude of the event — on a loss that would haunt most athletes for the rest of their lives.

“It’s only a sport, right? It’s only a game. It’s nothing else,” he said. “It didn’t affect my health where I was suddenly incapacitated for the rest of my life.

“Things happen in sport. If you are going to let a negative result affect you then you aren’t a very strong person. I have never been that way, I never cried over spilt milk. You move on in life.

“Whether it’s the members of Augusta National, the people who live in Augusta, anyone who went to watch that Masters or saw it on TV — I had a such a good following. They sent me a lot of well wishes and messages of support. That’s no different today when I walk through the streets there.

“There is a legacy of what you have done, people respect how you handle yourself. Maybe 1996 was a big part of that.”

Sweet satisfaction in Johnson’s historic win

Not that it sounds like he was in need of any healing process, but Norman took great satisfaction in Dustin Johnson’s triumph at Augusta last year.

The American finished five shots clear en route to becoming the first player to ever shoot 20-under on the famed course, his four-round total of 268 securing a place in Masters history as the lowest 72-hole score.

Before the most prestigious major on the calendar, Johnson reached out to Norman to ask for help with his putting. The pair reportedly spent just 90 minutes together before the tournament honing the eventual winner’s short game, but it made a world of difference.

“I’ll help him whenever he asks,” Norman told The Observer. “It was great that he reached out to me and I’m glad it was so positive for him.”

“It is very satisfying,” Norman added of Johnson’s victory. “When you have been in the thick of things, in the inner circle, you have so much knowledge and experience. If you can hand a piece of that on to help somebody else be successful, that is very rewarding.”

Norman makes dad eat his words

Norman revealed on a recent podcast he is making moves to trim down his $400 million business empire, and opened up on how he made his dad eat his words after The Shark’s father doubted he could ever make it as a golfer.

Norman has previously said his decision to abandon a career in the Royal Australian Air Force resulted in a “rift” with his father when he made the decision to pursue a career in professional golf.

Norman this week re-visited the decision that created a divide in their relationship on the Four Courses podcast with Geoffrey Zakarian.

“My dad never thought I’d be the golfer I became,” Norman said. “He wanted me to be either in his engineering business or be a scholar or go on and do something else in the business world.

“We had a little bit of angst about it all when I told him — hey, I’m going to turn professional and I’m going to be an assistant pro and in three years’ time I’m going to play the tour. He’s looking at me like, ‘Are you crazy, you’re not good enough to do that, nobody in our family has been a professional sportsman or woman’.”

Norman’s career exploded from the moment he fell in love with the sport at the age of 16 — going from a handicap of 27 when he first started playing regularly to playing off scratch in the space of 18 months.

He was a professional and winning tournaments by the age of 21, and won two major trophies at The British Open in 1986 and 1993.

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DNA evidence leads to arrest in 25-year cold case rape in California


Authorities arrested and charged a man in connection to a 1995 rape case in Riverside, California, based on DNA evidence.

Ralph Leslie Kroll, 49, is facing charges of rape by force, kidnapping, and the use of a deadly weapon by a sex offender, according to the Riverside Police Department. Kroll was arrested on Oct. 8 at his Eastvale home and remains in custody, but authorities only announced his apprehension Saturday.

Authorities believe that Kroll is the suspect who attacked an 18-year-old and forced her into a nearby apartment complex where he sexually assaulted her. Detectives submitted the case to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office for an arrest warrant against Kroll based on DNA evidence.

It’s unclear what new DNA evidence led to Kroll based on the police department’s release.

Kroll was in custody at the Robert Presley Detention Center on a $1 million bond, according to inmate records. It’s unclear whether he has retained an attorney.



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Mortgage reform – Boris Johnson wants 25-year fixed-rate mortgages | Britain


WITH THE average new mortgage costing 2.14% a year, it has never been cheaper to finance a purchase, and the divergence between the costs of buying and renting (see chart) further strengthens the incentive to buy. But regulation makes it impossible for many.

Rules imposed in the aftermath of a financial crisis caused by dodgy lending require banks to check not just whether applicants can afford the offered interest rate but whether they would still be able to if rates were three percentage points higher. That, together with the need for a chunky deposit, raises the bar to home ownership. According to a recent report by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), there are currently more than 3.5m “resentful renters” who would be able to afford the monthly mortgage payments but are held back by stringent affordability checks and high deposit requirements. The CPS’s proposed solution is fixed-rate 25-year mortgages with a loan-to-value ratio of 95%. Fixing the rate for the whole term would obviate the need to stress-test borrowers’ ability to pay more.

The government wants to make this happen. Boris Johnson, in his party conference speech on October 6th, argued that doing so “could create 2m more owner-occupiers, the biggest expansion of home ownership since the 1980s”. But how?

Britain’s mortgage market is dominated by banks and building societies which generally fund themselves with short term borrowings and deposits, and offer fixed rates only for two- or five-year periods to avoid a big mismatch in the duration of assets and liabilities. In Denmark, which has had a system of very long-term fixed-rate lending since the 1850s, the market is served mainly by specialist lenders funded by long-term bonds. No stress-test is needed to avoid a mismatch, so the market determines rates.

A 25-year loan priced at around 4% is an attractive asset in a world in which a 30-year British government bond yields just 0.9%, so the CPS believes that it should be possible to attract insurance companies and pension funds, which have long-term liabilities, into the market. The way mortgages are sold may explain their absence. Brokers, who arrange 70% of mortgages, have an interest in selling clients new products every two or five years rather than one that would last for a quarter of a century. Insurance companies and pension funds are cautious, too. An insurance boss worries that there could be a mis-selling scandal if interest rates were to fall further and new borrowers claimed they had not fully understood the terms and were “trapped on a supposedly penal rate”.

Robert Colvile of the CPS, who helped write the Conservative Party manifesto for the 2019 election, reckons that the government could use its convening power to overcome this hurdle, getting the firms to sit down with the Bank of England and other regulators to make clear that it would welcome such new products. Some Tories want to go further and extend a form of government guarantee to such mortgages, rather as America does through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, federally backed mortgage companies. The Treasury, understandably wary of extending a government guarantee to high loan-to-value mortgages, prefers the CPS’s cautious approach.

If it could be made to happen, both long-term lenders and borrowers would benefit. But the government would also need to find a way of getting more houses built if a flood of new money is not just to push prices up even further.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Fixing it”

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