Golf fans tuning in to the weekend rounds of the British Open last month may have experienced mild bewilderment-something akin to deboarding a time machine stuck two decades in the past. No less than a golf rock star nicknamed after the fiercest of wild beasts sat atop the leader board. But this crowd-pleasing shot maker was no Tiger. Instead, aging legend Greg Norman, the Shark, reemerged from obscurity to compete once more.
As if filling in for the injured Tiger Woods, the 53-year-old Australian navigated the links of Royal Birkdale with all the touch and ball-striking flair that propelled him to more than 80 professional victories and 331 weeks as the world's No. 1 ranked player between 1986 and 1998. On a track more wind tunnel than golf course, Norman out-gutted his younger competitors to a two-shot lead through Saturday. Everything about his game resembled the greatness of a bygone era.
Now, a casual golfer amid the honeymoon celebration of a new marriage to tennis great Chris Evert, Norman stopped by golf's oldest major championship and nearly became the game's oldest major champion. Trouble was, the aging Aussie's recapturing of his former self proved too complete. Alongside his pure stroke and driving accuracy, Norman also rekindled his propensity for Sunday fades. His final round 77 dropped him six strokes behind tournament winner and repeat champion Padraig Harrington.
The spoiled fairy tale was nothing new. In 1986, Norman lost 54-hole leads in three of the four majors. A decade later, he turned in a collapse for the ages, shooting 78 on the final day of the Masters to blow a six-shot lead. Norman's record in majors now includes 14 top 3 finishes and 30 top 10s, but just two titles.
Unlike the great 1986 resurgence of Jack Nicklaus, when an aging champion shot 65 on Sunday to capture his sixth Masters crown and remind the golf world of greatness, Norman's encore served only as a painful reminder of a career still falling short of the talent behind it.
Major League Soccer, the stateside kid brother of the more talent-filled European leagues, took one step closer to legitimacy July 20. But to the dismay of MLS officials, that step brought a piece of European soccer culture better left across the Atlantic. Dozens of opposing fans broke into a brawl during halftime of a so-called friendly match between England's West Ham United and Columbus Crew of the MLS.
Columbus police and Crew Stadium security eventually separated the packs of rioters and made several arrests. Unruly outbursts are not uncommon in the English Premier League, but passion for American soccer has never before reached such heated levels. A mob of Crew fans has dubbed itself Hudson Street Hooligans, modeling a brand of gang violence depicted in the recent film Green Street Hooligans. Such developments should be enough to give pause to desperate American soccer fans longing to import the European game.
Cycling's long run of doping scandals took their toll on public interest last summer. But the numbers from this year's Tour de France suggest the sport is moving in the right direction. Teams like Garmin-Chipotle of the United States have committed to year-round random drug testing. The result: Only two lesser-known riders were disqualified this year, television viewership on Versus climbed 16 percent, and daily downloads at the cable network's website more than doubled.