The Masters’ most tragic figure was soon on the phone to console and encourage fellow Queenslanders Adam Scott and Jason Day after they came so close to breaking Australia’s 75-year Augusta national duck on Sunday.
"He was very proud of us," Day said. "He’s very proud of what we did out there and how we played."
Playing together, Scott (67) and Day (68) had just posted fourth-round scores that would have been good enough to close out most major tournaments.
But, just as happened to Norman in previous decades, they were blown away by a piece of magic from someone else.
South African Charl Schwartzel, 26, birdied the last four holes for a 66 – the best closing round at the Masters in 22 years – to snatch the green jacket in one of the greatest finishes to any major tournament.
Day and Scott finished tied for second, two shots behind. Almost lost in all the excitement was Geoff Ogilvy, who birdied five holes in a row on the back nine to close with a 67 and a share of fourth with Tiger Woods (67) and Luke Donald (69).
Norman, who so often stumbled with victory in sight, or had it whisked from under his nose by the likes of Larry Mize’s 140-foot chip-in, is a figure of inspiration to many of Australia’s current generation of golfers.
So his call meant a lot to Scott and Day.
Scott’s emotions swung between dejection and pride. A wayward second to the reachable 15th cost him any chance of a birdie or eagle that might have closed the deal.
Nevertheless a tap-in birdie at the 16th after an immaculate tee-shot left him two shots in front and he parred in.
"It’s just disappointing that I didn’t win when I held the lead with a few holes to go," the 30-year-old said.
"I’m usually a pretty good closer. I didn’t do a bad job today, but Charl was better. It was an incredible finish. I’m proud of the way I played, but I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it done when I was right there at the end.
"To be right in the mix here is everything I’ve dreamed of. Just didn’t quite pan out."
Day, at 23, came close to becoming the first rookie to win the Masters since 1979.
He was in a five-way tie for the lead after 13 holes but fell behind with three successive pars before making birdie at the final two holes.
"I couldn’t do anything more than what I did," said Day.
"Scotty played well, I played well and Charl played magnificently.
"I’m very happy with how I handled myself out there, especially as this is my third major and first Masters.
"It was unreal, the most exciting tournament I’ve ever played in. It was an amazing feeling to be out there in the thick of things."
"It was unfortunate me or Scotty couldn’t finish it off today but it just shows how good Australian golf is right now.
"One of us is going to get that green jacket one day."
Amid the numerous overnight charges, 21-year-old overnight leader Rory McIlroy melted, his four shot edge vanishing as he shot 80 in a collapse reminiscent of Norman’s surrender of a six-shot lead in 1996.
Day and Scott join four other Australians to finish runner-up in the Masters – Jim Ferrier in 1950, Bruce Crampton in 1972, Jack Newton in 1980 and Norman in 1986, 1987 and 1996.
"It has been a big deal for Australia, especially since Greg was getting close so many times," said Ogilvy, who birdied 12 through 16 to take a share of the lead with two holes to play.
"It’s nice to finish the week with my best nine holes."
Ogilvy’s US Open title in 2006 is the only major triumph by an Australian in the past 15 years.
While Australians are still winless at Augusta, South Africans have won the Masters five times – Gary Player three times and Trevor Immelman won three years ago.
And don’t forget Louis Oosthuizen blew away the field at last year’s British Open, which means South Africans have won two of the past three major championships.
For the first time since 1994, all four major titleholders are non-American, and all are first-time major winners.
It’s truly a global game, with Australia very much in the mix, even if that green jacket remains frustratingly elusive."