Greg Norman, haunted by bad luck in major American golf tournaments, was forced to withdraw during the second round of the U.S. Open Friday after aggravating an injury to his left hand.
"It's probably the lowest point in my career," said the white-haired Australian who had drawn the biggest galleries of the week. "I've never pulled out of a tournament before."Norman, among the top contenders for the 88th Open title, sustained what was believed to be a torn ligament when his club struck a rock while he was making an approach shot to the ninth green. The rock was covered by tall grass.
He hit a drive on the next hole but then withdrew in pain when he tried to hit a 6-iron out of the rough.
Norman, who had shot a 3-over-par 74 in the first round, was one over for the day when he left The Country Club course.
He told reporters he had never been so disappointed.
"It is the U.S. Open, isn't it?" he said.
Norman would not speculate on what treatment he might require or on how long the injury might keep him from the game.
"I really don't know. So much has happened in the last 20 minutes that I'll have to think a while before I know what might happen," he said.
He said he had persevered after re-injuring the wrist more than a year ago, accepting the pain and the fact he could not hit down on the ball as he would like.
He flew Friday afternoon to Birmingham, Ala., to be examined by his orthopedic surgeon. A doctor at the course gave a preliminary diagnosis of a torn ulna collateral ligament at the left wrist.
He said he first injured the wrist in childhood and that it had bothered him intermittently over the years.
"But this is the worst it's been," he said.
Norman said he had been taking medication for about 18 months to alleviate the pain and swelling.
After he left the course, he went to the medical tent where his arm was put in a sling and his hand packed with ice.
Although he won the 1986 British Open, Norman has a history of bad luck in golf's major championships.
He lost a playoff to Fuzzy Zoeller in the 1984 U.S. Open, was the victim of Bob Tway's birdie from the bunker on the 72nd hole of the 1986 PGA Championship, and was a playoff loser to Larry Mize's pitch-in birdie in the 1987 Masters.
Norman's huge following here, where he is known as a Boston Celtic fan, included Larry Bird, who followed him for both of the early rounds.