home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


November 10, 2001

Greg Norman

ANA LEAIRD: Good afternoon, and welcome to the World Golf Hall of Fame press conference, and welcome, Greg. For those of you who are on the phone line, Greg is joining us from the media center at the Franklin Templeton Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida.

GREG NORMAN: It's a great honor for me to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. To be honest with you, it came as a bit of a surprise. I never expected it. Because growing up as a kid in Australia, mentality as an athlete in Australia, to our athletes of higher stature, is one that we never really had a Hall of Fame to look forward to. Not like over here in the United States where in Canton, Ohio you have the NFL Hall of Fame -- and I've driven by it many, many times when I've played up there at the World Series, and I've always wondered what it would be like to be having a bust in that Hall of Fame. So as a kid growing up it wasn't a big deal for me in Australia. Obviously, when Commissioner Finchem called me a couple of months ago and told me that I was inducted in the 2001 Hall of Fame, I thought, "Well, gosh, how am I supposed to react to this?" I really was not too sure. I was a little bit apprehensive to say the least, a little bit odd knowing what to say and how to accept it. But as time has gone by and the moment draws closer, we are about 24 hours from it, I think the enormity and the importance of it is really setting in. The importance to me is the recognition that has taken place, for the commitment to the game of golf and commitment to the excellence in the game of golf. And sometimes, I kind of relate to the game of golf in different ways than a lot of other people. To me, it's not something that you can really measure up in victories. It's actually what you do in golf in general across the board; how much you give back to it. So I look forward to tomorrow night tremendously. It's going to be a fast start to me. I've got to leave there, straightaway and fly down to Australia. So it's not like I really can have the time and enjoy it and absorb it from there on, but I will once I get down to Australia on Tuesday morning.

Q. Can you can you talk about some other players that it will be an honor to -- specific players that it will be a specific on honor to have your name alongside in the Hall of Fame?

GREG NORMAN: My biggest idol in the game of golf is Jack Nicklaus. When I grew up, starting the game in the 70s, really thinking I could be a professional golfer, of a quality that I could compete on an international basis, I always looked up to Jack. And a lot of what Jack has delivered to the game of golf is what I touched on in my opening remarks. It not the victories that count to me. It's the quality of how you deliver your losses and the quality of how you deliver your victories. Jack was the epitome of that. Jack taught a lot of people the sense of respect to your fellow competitors. He was always very willing to be the first person to congratulate the individual. And it was such a powerful message for me when I was growing up as a kid. I remember when Jack beat me at Augusta, when he played that phenomenal back nine to win, I made a point of waiting around for him. Because to me, I know as a child I had really looked forward to winning the Masters, but when he did win it, I realized how important it was for him to win it, as well. So I made it a point of making sure that I waited for Jack, and I waited quite a long time. I don't think there's any other golf tournament where I've ever waited for anybody. And Jack did the same thing for me at the British Open, when I won the first one in Turnberry, he was the first guy outside of my caddy and my wife walking up 18. He made an effort to come down off the tower off 18; he was commentating at the time. And those were the things that really stick in any mind. And to know that I'm going in into the Hall of Fame with Jack, along with many other great players who have really bestowed their credibilities and their images to the game of golf, not just playability-wise, but for what they have done to the game of golf: From the R&A, the USGA, from manufacturing, just for -- to me, that's why the enormity of the Hall of Fame is really setting in because it's not just for golf. Just look at the six inductees this year; it's not just for golf and how you play the game. It's for golf in total. We have a wonderful, broad spectrum of people being represented in the induction this year, and I think that's a credit to the Hall of Fame for recognizing all of them.

Q. Tell us a moment or highlight from your career you could capture and have shown on the screen behind you during the ceremony; what would you choose that to be?

GREG NORMAN: I could answer that two ways. I could answer it in two ways from the fact of 1996 and how I handled the loss of the Masters. I think that's important -- that's an important message for everybody to see. This is what I mean by how you are really governed in the game of golf. As devastating as that loss was for me at the time, it was important for me to make sure that I went there and handled the bullets fired at me. I think too many other players in sport and even in my sport of golf, turn down the media, let go -- of their responsibilities and live up to what they need to do, accept that -- what happened. And it want an extremely important moment in my life that I had that feeling of necessity to be the gracious loser, to go down there and answer the questions, to take all of the bullets that you needed to take, to get up walk away from that press conference and say, "Hey, it's over and done with." Once I left that press room that thing was over and done with. So that was an enormous step as far as I'm concerned in my growing of stature in my mind about how I felt about myself and delivered what I needed to deliver to the game of golf and to kids. So much from that moment on people stopped me on the streets, other people stopped me at a soccer game and said, "Hey you changed my life." I'm talking about adults because of the way I conducted myself there. So that to me is a very poignant moment in life. On the other side of the coin, from the happiness and the ecstasy and the joy of winning, I'd have to go to my first golf tournament I ever won, because that gave me the credibility within myself to believe in myself; that I had the ability to compete on the world stage of golf. That was only my third golf tournament I ever played. I didn't have any money that I could feel like I'm set for the next year or two years or five years -- it's not like the young kids nowadays where they are set for ten years or their whole life before they even turn pro because of potential guarantees and endorsements that are already lined up for them. So in '76, I won $7,000, I believe it was, and I thought I was the richest guy in the world. And that gave me enough money to buy airline tickets and pay hotel bills. That's the difference; you had basically 20 years of time span between the two events, but two very powerful ones in my own mind.

Q. You took up the game maybe a little bit later than some teenagers, but you became a good player very rapidly. Was there one facet of golf that came easy to you right off the bat, and what was the thing that you identified early on that you had to get better at and over the course of time it measured up to other skills that allowed you to be in the position that you are now?

GREG NORMAN: I think the ease within myself was the belief within myself, after I won the third event. The sheer power that I brought to the game, my coach, Charlie, always said to me, "Greg, just learn to hit the ball as hard as you possibly can and we'll figure out how to hit it straight." So my power allowed me to overpower golf courses. And back 25 years GO, 20 years ago, if you hit the ball 300 yards, you were doing very, very well. We were breaking down the par 5's, and in those days they were 525, 530 - very seldom were they 570 to 600. It's kind of like what Tiger does nowadays. He's really playing a par 68 every time he walks on a golf course. I felt the same way. So having that feeling of overpowering, power in my game, I felt like I could dominate most of the golf courses that I played.

Q. In terms of peaking for a couple of events, you sort of singled out the '93 British Open and the '94 PLAYERS Championship, maybe where it all came together. Can you talk about how well you were playing at that time and any specific memories of those two events?

GREG NORMAN: Well, the British Open in '93 to me was the ultimate of all championships I've ever played in, whether it's been a major championship or not because very seldom have I ever played in my entire career an event where all of the top players were in contention to win, all of the highest-ranking players in the world were there on Sunday, and we knew it was going to be a tough victory. Whoever was going to win, it was going to be tough. Faldo was playing extremely well at the time. So was Bernhard Langer, myself. I believe Ernie Els was there, Corey Pavin was there, Freddie Couples was there. So we had -- we had the Who's Who in the Game of Golf ready to jump all over us. It was not easy being the last couple of groups off. I think I was in the group in front of Faldo, second to last group off. So all of the guys out in front of us had the opportunity of capitalizing on the golf course before we even got going. So you knew as the low scores were posted that -- as you teed off, you'd better put the foot down on that pedal very, very hard. So as the day wore on and you could see the players just getting and better and the scores just getting lower and lower, it was a very satisfying feeling. And probably the poignant moment for me of the day on Sunday was when I walked off the ninth green going to the 10th tee, and I think I had a one-shot lead at the time and I reminded myself of what I read about Larry Bird one time and he said, "All I want is the ball. If we're one point down with two seconds left on the clock, just give me the ball. I want the shot." And I had a one -shot lead and I said, "Give me the ball. I want this lead. I want it, I want it, I want it." I remember walking to the 10th tee, we waited for a few minutes, got up there drilled it down the fairway and it was like from that 10th hole on. I had a very, very confident feeling that I had a good chance of winning the championship. TPC was unique in its own right because I remember talking to Pete Dye. We were building a Medalist Golf Club and the week before -- I said to Pete when we were at the Medalist Golf Club the week before, and I said, "I'm going to go up there and shoot 24-, 25-under." He looked me like I was crazy. And lo and behold, I go out there and do it. I think the players didn't like me doing it because the golf course is getting tougher and tougher as the years go by. But when you go out there and do that, I've never gone through 72 holes without making a bogey, and I remember going into Sunday, that was my goal, believe it or not more than anything. I knew if I went through 18 holes without making a bogey, I would have a pretty good shot of winning the tournament the way I was playing. When I finally made a bogey, then I had to concentrate, lock down and make sure I didn't let things slip. Sometimes when you miss your goal, you have a tendency of letting things get away and I stayed focused on it and completed the victory.

Q. (Inaudible)?

GREG NORMAN: ... Any country in the world. I can think of comparisons, what Seve Ballesteros did for Spanish Golf, what Gary Player did for South African golf, when the Byron Nelsons and the Sam Sneads and the Arnold Palmers and the Jack Nicklaus's and the Raymond Floyds and Lee Trevinos and Tom Watsons have done for American golf. And I knew it was extremely important that if I wanted to go up there and compete on the world stage that I had to have that image and knowledge of what it takes to be that person out there in the forefront. And I looked up to Peter Thomson, David Graham and Bruce Devlin, who were the three guys that really were ahead of me in my time, and I always admired them for their ability to perform overseas. So, they were my role models of Australia and I wanted to move up and try to emulate them and beat them, what they had produced on an overseas basis. But then comes the learning curve of understanding and responsibilities. So many times now, I get really disappointed when I see that happening with some of the younger generation of players, they seem like -- and Tiger Woods is not that way. Tiger Woods has done a phenomenal job considering his position and what he's done in the game of golf. But I see a few other players of who have a tendency of shirking their responsibilities that come with not just the ability of playing golf and winning golf tournaments, but everything else that comes with it, things that happen when you get in a vehicle and you drive back to the hotel; or the things that happen when you're in restaurant; things that nobody ever really sees. And it's extremely important issue for me that our representation towards our game, towards the flag of the country that you represent is across the board; it's not just on the golf course. It's an extremely important point that you have to make nowadays. If I was ever going to be a coach or a mentor or anybody now -- and I said this to the younger kids from Australia, that their responsibilities of doing that is extremely important. Nobody is bigger than the game of golf. You have to take your successes in stride. But, whether they listen or whether they don't, it's up to them as long as you know and you feel like you've given them guidance. I think from Australia's perspective we have got a great pool of young talent from a country there's only got 18 million people. We have got a lot of great talent coming out, not only from the male side but the female. Look at Karrie Webb. Karrie has conducted herself as well as any professional golfer that I've ever seen.

Q. I was wondering if you remember any details about how you won at the West Lake Classic, were you ahead at the time or did you come-from-behind? Any details that you recall?

GREG NORMAN: I remember very well. I had a five-shot lead going into the last round and I was really -- actually I think it might have been more than that. I think that I had a ten-shot lead and I think I won by five, is what it was. I remember I ditched the field very early on -- I had the Peter Thomsons, the David Grahams, the Bruce Cramptons of the world and some of the other top Australian players down there. And the way I played 54 holes, as a rookie, my third golf event, kind of like took them all by surprise and by storm, I suppose -- and I remember the last day because I didn't know what to do. I think I shot about 73, 74, 75on last day but I ended up winning by five shots. I think the thing that I remember most about that victory was when I was up in the clubhouse, I didn't know how to conduct myself. I actually stood back in the corner of the clubhouse waiting for the presentation with the president and the captain of the club and all of the other members and associates that were there. I was very quietly standing back in the corner not knowing what to do. I was a bit of an introvert at the time and I remember standing with my friend Brian Smith, and I said to Smithy and myself, I said, "You know what, if I want to be truly successful in this game, I've got to get out of this introverted feeling that I've got right now." And boy, I made a conscious effort over the next five to seven years, which pretty much led up to the '86 British Open and really came out of myself a little bit, and to not feel like I didn't know what to do or whether I felt like I belonged. So it was a tough battle because it went a little bit against my nature.

Q. I don't know what sort of texts they put with the statue or the big glass pane, but if you could write it, how would you have people remember you -- how do you want to be remembered -- in a way, I guess this will serve as your golf epitaph -- is the right word, by I think you know what I mean?

GREG NORMAN: I like that word, epitaph. (Laughs). I would have to be consistent with what I said in the past, with my commitment of excellence to the game of golf. And I think that's a very simple saying because it is a game. I commit myself to the game. Win, lose or draw, I commit myself to championing the right causes. Never once in my life have I ever tried to undermine the game of golf or hurt the game of golf. And I've always tried to do the best for the game of golf. So the commitment to excellence to the game of golf would be something that I would probably like to see there.

Q. We are all so focussed on your PGA TOUR wins over here, besides that first win, is there one or two other tournaments of your international victories over the years that for one reason or another are very special and come to mind?

GREG NORMAN: Yes, winning the Australian Open for the first time was important to me because it was my National Open. It's like an American wanting to win the U.S. Open. Winning in Europe was important because it was my base for the first couple of years. I really -- couldn't single out one particular golf tournament but I can definitely single out one particular golf shot that I played to win a golf tournament, and I think the World Match Play Championship, as I talk now it comes into my mind. The World Match Play Championship when I beat Jack Nicklaus, I think it was in the semifinals, the 20th anniversary of the World Match Play. Here, I'm up against my idol. He was -- how long was that -- that was probably 15 years ago, so Jack still was very, very, very competitive in those times. And we had a wonderful tussle over 36 holes, the final match and I eventually beating him. I thought that was a powerful moment for me and I believe I went on and won the World Match Play from there. So, there was -- and the head-to-head battles, that was important.

Q. I think Payne Stewart showed a lot of class at the U.S. Open with Lee Janzen and also sportsmanship with Colin Montgomerie at the Ryder Cup. Can you share a few memories of Payne Stewart who will be inducted with you?

GREG NORMAN: Well, I've got a lot of great memories, probably some I shouldn't share with everybody because Payne and I enjoyed probably a lot of good, private, fun times when we played exhibition matches. What you saw with Payne on the golf course and the way Payne was off the golf course, Payne was a very driven guy on the golf course, but he was a wonderful guy off the golf course. He was very, very open. He enjoyed his life. He enjoys his life with other people enjoying their life as well. I can remember Payne -- gosh, I'm going back now probably to like '80 or '79 when he didn't even have his PGA TOUR card and he was trying to qualify, and we were in Australia and he came over and spent some time at my house over there, and we were in the swimming pool drinking red wine, drinking beer, doing whatever we needed to do make ourselves feel pretty good on a Sunday afternoon or whatever it was. Those are the moments that come flashing in my mind with Payne. Again, he's done a phenomenal job on the golf course. His credentials speak for themselves. At the same time, if people knew what Payne was like off the golf course, his giving towards other people and organizations, the time and effort that he made to make people extremely comfortable when we do exhibition matches -- those are the things that people don't see that we see and those are the things that stick in my mind more than his U.S. Open victories or more than how he carries himself on the golf course -- because that is important, no question. But to me, the other side is just as important.

Q. Many people would think that being a Hall of Fame type of golfer is more of an ending, but for you, it's also been a beginning: You are creating courses, I love your Cabernet Merlot. How would you explain what golf has enabled you to do that's really important in your life?

GREG NORMAN: Again, the game of golf has obviously given me every opportunity that I have right now to be in the position that I am right now. Everything is really been a line extension from the game of golf; if you create yourself by how you create your image -- my high standards on the golf course, with my morals and my ethics, with the rules of the game, with how the game of golf should be conducted and how you should conduct yourself on the golf course; I've always been extremely, extremely high. And so I carry that iver into the business world. And having very high morals and ethics and standards in the business world has allowed me to create such a high pedestal for all of my people who work for me; that they understand that we only do things with quality, with long-term value and direction. Thank you for the comment on the wine. It was a prime example of what successful branding really can do because the company, Mildara Blass, was trying to get into the United States and the wine industry; had a great wine, with a little tweaking from myself and what I thought the taste to be for United States market -- because with the right branding, they branded it obviously the Greg Norman Estates. It has been a case study in how successful branding can be. You have to deliver the product but you have to deliver the quality as well as the value that comes with it. And everything that I've done in business, I benchmark those. In business, yes, I have made mistakes. Just like back on the golf course, you make mistakes, but the wonderful part about business is not everybody gets to see your mistakes because in the private world of mistakes, you don't let anybody know your mistakes. But we do have them. We do make them. I do make bad judgment errors, but at the same time, because of our high quality of commitment, we have been able to establish a very, very good direction in the business world.

Q. You are a pretty young guy to be entering a Hall of Fame of any sort. What kind of things can we expect from you in the future? Any particular goals that you have or accomplishments that you are looking toward in the next 10, 15 years?

GREG NORMAN: Are you talking about playing-wise?

Q. Whichever. Competition-wise, business-wise?

GREG NORMAN: Competition wise in the game of golf, I'm very much a realist. I'll be 47 next year in February, and even though I keep myself very, very physically fit, there are other things in life that I've got to experience and enjoy more than the game of golf. I would never walk away from the game of golf because that is my inner core. That is me. The playability, the competitive level is always going to come from inside the heart and as well as my heart wants to do it; I will still be competing. I am not retiring. I've read a couple of interesting articles over the last couple of weeks because I will be giving up my PGA TOUR card because I failed to play the necessary number of tournaments. But that was circumstances beyond my control. I had to miss Doral, I had to miss the British Open, but that doesn't mean to say that I'm not going to fulfill my commitment of playing the number of tournaments that I would lake to play whether I'm on the U.S. PGA TOUR or not. I will still be able to play my 12 or 15 tournaments that I like to play a year. And I want everybody to know, if they look over the history of my career or the last 10 or 15 year, I have always just hit the number of the PGA TOUR, 15 events, maybe 16 or 17. I don't think I go too many more beyond that. So my number on the U.S. PGA TOUR has always been basically the bear minimum. Unfortunately, this year, I couldn't. Obviously, people are going to say, well, business got in the way. Yes, no question. I tried to get the Disney in. I would like to have played the Disney but I had already made a commitment six months prior. If people knew what my schedule was like and how committed I am to everybody, I'm not going to change something I made six months ago to -- that really doesn't have a major impact on what I would like to do next year because I can still play 12 or 15. That's my competitive side. From a business standpoint, obviously, since 9/11, we're all going to suck up an extra hour of work a day, instead of 24, you spend 25. It's a commitment that everybody, not just myself and my organization has to do. It's a commitment on a global basis because. We have seen a change in philosophy with the consumer. But that will change because if you have total belief in the U.S. government -- I have total belief and I feel extremely safe in the way President Bush is conducting this whole episode. So from my business perspective we go about business as normal. We are still -- know the direction we want to go. We see things seven to 10 years to 15 years out with a couple our ventures. So we are very, very comfortable with where we are now because we are a global company. In many ways sometimes when things slowdown in one part of the world they pick up in another part of the world. That's what we are seeing now since 9/11. In the business world we see a bit of contradiction in what you read or hear on the news services. We are seeing a very successful business on one side that everybody is saying is not really that way. So depends on where you are in the market and depends on how you've prepared for it allows you to adapt to circumstances like what happened during 9/11.

Q. I was wondering, what was the catalyst for your decision to come and play in the United States to leave the European Tour? Was it the success of David Graham, or success you had in Europe?

GREG NORMAN: That's a very good question. I always wanted to play in the U.S. because I always knew that's where the best players were playing. Because in Australia in the late 70s we always had Jack Nicklaus or Gary Player because of the corporations that they were representing at the time, the club manufacturers; they always come to played in the Australia Open. At the time it was regarded as one of the top 5 golf tournaments in the world. So I always had the chance of playing against these high-quality players, not only players from South Africa, other players who came down as well: The Lee Trevinos, the Jerry Pates, the Raymond Floyds, the Tom Watsons of the world. So every I'm they came down in the early part of my career, I knew from about '76 to 80 knew that I needed to go play in the United States. But at the same time, I didn't want to jump straight to the United States. I wanted to get an unbelievable grounding, the best I possibly could, playing in Europe. Remember, I didn't have a whole lot of money, so I had to go build up my financial base to allow me to give me the confidence to go to the United States and buy a place and feel stable enough to be there. So it was a very calculated approach that I made. I spent four to five years from '76 to 81 and that's when I decided to come over to the United States. I felt like I was ready to play here. I felt like I wanted to play here. I met an American gal and I married that American gal I met in 1979; so, my transition was very, very easy, as far as I'm concerned because I mentally had prepared myself for it. And I truly believe that's why I came across here and played so well because I felt like it was my second home, and it has been that way. The relationship I've had here with the American people, American corporations has truly been phenomenal, and it's been a tremendous relationship. Just to get away from golf a little bit, I think I just knowing that Australia has been the only ally to the United States and fought side by side with them in every war and no other country can say that; and here we were, one of the first country to step up and support with the United States after 9/11 and say we're going to send troops we're going to help you, is just an indication of how comfortable it was for me to come over the United States because I knew the similarities and the support and the beliefs from the two countries were extremely tight.

ANA LEAIRD: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297