Greg Norman reveals the tip Jack Nicklaus gave him before first major win
Welcome to our new series, golfer-to-golfer, where we try to learn from all different kinds of avid players out there, in hopes that the rest of us can take away something that might improve our own games.
This week, we’re hearing from three of the greats: Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, who reveal in ESPN’s new 30 for 30 the advice Jack gave Greg that helped the Shark win his first major.
Greg Norman was the best player in golf in 1986, but he was in danger of ending the season without a major to show for it.
Holding the 54-hole lead in each of the first two majors, his late Masters charge sputtered with a bogey on the 18th hole, and his U.S. Open bid ended with a final round 75.
Again the 54-hole leader at the 1986 Open Championship at Turnberry, Norman admitted that he was nervous, and that questions over how the pressure was affecting him were starting to bother him.
That’s when, as Norman entered the clubhouse following his third round, Jack Nicklaus, who was eating lunch with Tom Watson at the time, decided to intervene.
“I walked over to him at sat down, and I told him: ‘You know, I’ve watched you in the last couple of majors where you didn’t quite get it done, and I’ve seen a flaw repeated,” Jack said in the documentary.
Lighter grip pressure at setup
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The flaw Jack had spotted was Norman gripping the club too tight under pressure. That was causing Norman’s ordinarily long, loose and powerful golf swing to become shorter and tighter under pressure, which would cause him to hit wayward shots.
And as Norman retells it, Jack’s advice was simple.
“He put his hand on my shoulder: Just focus on your grip pressure tomorrow, that’s it,” revealed Norman.
“It was typical Jack, keeping it simple,” Watson adds. “Keep your hands lightly on the club, and just play golf.”
Thanks in part from that tip from the 18-time major winner Nicklaus, Norman went on to shoot one-under 69 on Sunday to win his first major championship by five strokes.