Born in Queensland in the 1950s. Junior members at Virginia Golf Club. Coached by PGA Immortal Charlie Earp. Breakthrough victories at the West Lakes Classic. Major champions.
The shared history of Greg Norman and Wayne Grady is extensive yet their personalities could hardly be more different and now they face off one more time in our ongoing quest to identify Australia’s Greatest Golfer.
As Norman ascended to the very top of world golf with a single-mindedness that drove his success during both his playing career and then into the Great White Shark business empire, Grady wasn’t afraid to sample the good life in his 30-year playing career.
While Norman mingled with presidents and kings of business, Grady always maintained a connection to the common man, best evidenced by the proclamation he made following his 1990 US PGA Championship victory at Shoal Creek: “You bloody beauty.”
Only one player in history has spent more time at No.1 than Norman’s 331-week reign yet he finished his career with only one more major championship than Grady.
“Maybe he wanted it too much. Maybe it was the pressure he placed on himself,” Grady reflected in a 2013 interview with the Courier-Mail.
While the numbers lean heavily in Norman’s favour, Grady’s personality meant that he was never intimidated by Norman on the golf course.
A two-time winner of the Australian PGA Championship, Grady and Norman were locked together at the top at the end of 72 holes of the 1988 Australian PGA at Riverside Oaks, Grady prevailing at the fourth playoff hole.
Eight months later they were pitted against each other and Mark Calcavecchia in a playoff to decide the winner of the 1989 Open Championship, the Queensland pair vanquished by the American in the four-hole decider.
Grady would have his major moment the following year while Norman’s extraordinary career was highlighted by his twin British Open victories in 1986 and 1993.
A force of nature who inspired countless Aussies to take up the game throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, Norman’s influence on Australian golf may never be truly measured to its fullest extent, his 89 career wins at the very highest level a tally few can comprehend.
Career wins: 89
Major wins: 2 (British Open 1986, 1993)
PGA TOUR wins: 20
Australasian Tour wins: 32
Australian Open: Won (1980, 1985, 1987, 1995, 1996)
Australian PGA: Won (1984, 1985)
Career wins: 10
Major wins: 1 (US PGA Championship 1990)
PGA TOUR wins: 2
Australasian Tour wins: 3
Australian Open: 2nd (1996)
Australian PGA: Won (1988, 1991)