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May 31, 2017
MARK WILLIAMS: We'd like to welcome Greg Norman into the interview room, the honoree for the 2017 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. Congratulations. And if you could just talk a bit about today and what it's meant to you, and obviously you have a wonderful relationship with Mr. Nicklaus.
GREG NORMAN: Well, first of all, yes, he has been, there's no question. For most of you in the room here, knowing that, for 41 years.
But really like I said consistently today, when I got on the plane to fly up here today, I was trying to put into words what it meant, how to express myself, the meaning and the strength of it. And there really isn't a right way of expressing it because it's a reflection of everybody recognizes your performance on the golf course as well as off the golf course, how you conducted yourself in different situations. But at the end of the day, it's when you reflect back on all the other honorees that you realize that you're sitting in a very elite bucket of very impressive individuals.
So, to me, I still can't find the right words to tell you the truth. But the relationship I've had with Jack has been extremely special. From 46 years ago, as some of you may have heard, to where we are today it's hard to imagine you can have that type of -- or somebody can have that type of effect on you as you go through life. And when you sit down here today, and for him to say what he said to me about my speech was, again, one of those moments where I wanted to deliver a speech that didn't have notes. I wanted to deliver a speech that came from the heart and I did it.
And I think it impressed Jack. And I think that's the most important thing. If you can impress a guy as humble as he is, you've done your job.
MARK WILLIAMS: It's hard to believe it was 40 years ago the last time -- 46 years ago. During that period you had seven top-10's. Is there any particular moment in this event that really stood out to you as one moment that was more significant than another?
GREG NORMAN: I'd have to say the people. This is probably the most enjoyable tournament to play golf under front of a group of people. Why? I don't know that. I don't really know the answer, but the all encompassing answer is that they really, truly appreciated the game of golf. And every time I came here there would be family members or even somebody came up to me today that I signed an autograph for when she was six or seven years old going down the 14th fairway, and she lived in one of the houses. And that's going back now 30 years.
So that in its own right tells you the impression the people of this area have left on me. So I would say the people.
Q. Congratulations. Jack, I guess, was kind enough to tell the story about your first time playing together and your unfortunate opening shot. What were your recollections there?
GREG NORMAN: Exactly, as embarrassed as I've ever been on a golf course. And that is so true. I cold topped it. I was lucky to put the ball on the tee because I was shaking that much. I actually think I dropped it and hoping it just stayed on the tee.
And I hit it 40 yards, not even 40 yards. I had just won the week before. So I was very, very much embarrassed, humiliated, but also stimulated in a lot of ways just by being there with Jack.
I beat him the next day, by the way. I shot 72 and I think he shot 73. So it was rewarding.
But really the end of the 36 holes was probably the most memorable of all for me because he sat next to me in the locker room, changing his spiked shoes at that time, and he put his hand on my knee, he said, "You've got the game to do well in America." And that was that. Again, that was Jack saying the right thing at the right time to give me the confidence.
But you would have been impressed with the cold top. It went dead straight, too, by the way.
Q. I've got a text message from Jim Tucker, he said that Jack also cold topped a shot, a fairway shot. So you weren't alone that week.
GREG NORMAN: See, I intimidated him.
Q. I was going to ask you, you've had a lot of great awards in your career, where does this award rank in those awards you've received?
GREG NORMAN: Look, I'd actually put it up in the top two. I think the number one for me was carrying the Olympic torch across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. That one you can never describe or explain, but just to be there with the 30-odd-thousand people, when there's supposed to be 3,000.
So I'd put this one in my top two, for sure. Because it's a culmination of time, that's what it is.
Q. If you could have one mulligan in your career, what would that shot be? And did whatever went wrong on that particular occasion, did it have a residual effect? Was it something you continued to think of in the future? How did you get over it?
GREG NORMAN: Look, I wouldn't pick maybe the main one, but it's one that comes flooding into my mind. The first one would be the '86 Masters, the 4-iron instead of the 5-iron. Jack beat me in that event. Didn't he shoot 29 on the back nine or 30 on the back nine? Something like that.
I knew then I made -- all day long I had been playing great golf. Solid golf. Really aggressive golf. And I made a decision -- and Steve Williams said, Hey, you know, just go ahead and power your 5. It was 187 yards. I can tell you exactly what the yardage was. And I wanted to just carve in a really nice soft 4-iron in there and knock it close. And I had been on a bit of a birdie run.
And I made the wrong choice. If I had to go out and made that shot again, I would have pulled out a 5-iron, and hit it right at the top of the flag stick like I had been doing all day and just hit a hard 5-iron. The result have been different, I don't know.
Q. When you went to that 4-iron, did that shot stick with you in any way?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I still remember it here today (laughter), so I guess it does stick with you.
Look, I think we all sit back and think about shots and putts you missed at a time and why. Was it technique? Was it mental? Did it hit something or just a bad judgment call? I don't know. Of course they stick with you. No question. Does it haunt me? No. Because it's part of the game. It's just one shot and I hit it at the wrong time and you don't want to do it again.
There have been times with Tony Navarro on the bag, he said, Back off.
I'd say, I ain't backing off, I'm hitting this flat out.
So maybe that was a bit of a residual, I'm not going to fall into that trap again. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But you definitely do remember.
Q. Could I please get you to comment on the games of the three young Australians, Curtis, Brett and Ryan, and how you see the future of the Australian golf with those three?
GREG NORMAN: I think every time I look at the new wave of Aussie kids coming through, technically they're all good, they really are. I think it's an incredible indicator of what we've produced out of our small country of 25 million people and 1.2, 1.3 million golfers, that we have this ability to keep churning out these great players every 15 years. It seems like it's an every 15-year cycle.
I think it's just a reflection of the guys before who delivered the message and the stimulation to these young kids when they were five or seven or eight years old, watching their 22-year-old hero go do it. And they just want it.
Australians, their sporting personality is engrained in them anyway. We realized to become really, really good, we have to leave our homeland, unfortunately, because we're an island isolated in the middle of nowhere. And we don't have the quality of week in, week out golf tournaments to play in or cricket matches or rugby matches, anything like that. We don't have that quality. We have to travel.
And I think it is a reflection on our DNA of what Australia is. We aren't afraid to go overseas and take our talents, as good as they are, to showcase them anywhere.
These young kids, they'll be just as good as the Danes of the world and Scots of the world and my generation. They're emulating what I do or did, and I love to see them.
Q. Brett is from your home of Queensland. He of course won the Queensland Amateur. What about him impresses you? Do you think he can go on to win out here?
GREG NORMAN: I think any player who is on the PGA Tour can win, I really do. I don't care if they haven't won or have won the Queensland Open. If you win you have that one extra step on the ladder that you are more successful than somebody else. So any one of these kids can win. It just depends on a lot of outside circumstances and what they have in their head, does it marry up with their heart. And if they want to really go after it and trust their heart then their head has got to let them do it.
There are a lot of ways to look at it. But I hope they all succeed. I hope Brett goes on. He can win this week. There is no reason you cannot if you believe in yourself.
Q. There was that great moment in Turnberry where Nicklaus came down from the grandstands and spoke to you. What day was it, what did he tell you, what did you think when he gave you these nuggets?
GREG NORMAN: It was Saturday night. You're talking about before the final round or the Sunday night after I won or both? It was Saturday night. I was leading the tournament. And he noticed something in my game, whether it was at the U.S. Masters where he beat me or whether it was at the U.S. Open where Raymond beat me, I'm not sure. But he noticed something in my swing that my grip pressure was getting a little bit too tight in my left hand. And that way I wasn't releasing the golf club the way I was releasing it. And he could tell by my flight path of the golf ball. I was leaving the ball out to the right a little bit more often, so that means I was squeezing, I was holding on too long, wasn't releasing the golf club.
Anyway, Saturday night we were at dinner and he came up and said, Just a tip. I noticed this with you. Just relax your grip pressure on your left hand.
Great. Hear it.
So I go back to bed and I thought about it more in the morning when I woke up. And then I started a little saying within myself to make love with your hands. And if you make love with your hands, you're actually caressing it.
So every time I picked up a golf club under pressure I said, Make love with your hands. I took that to the driving range Sunday morning. And it was really a bad wind to practice in, it was hard left-to-right. And there's nothing worse for a right-handed golfer. And when I was starting to hold the ball back into the wind perfectly, that means I was releasing the club exactly the way I wanted. I was hitting the ball dead straight in a 20 to 25 mile left-to-right hour wind. And it was all about the grip pressure.
On Sunday night when I won, he was the first guy outside of my caddie to come down and congratulate me. And he walked down out of the tower to do that. I was very, very happy, but I think he was equally as happy as I was.
Q. You've been part of the Presidents Cup as a player and a captain. I was wondering if you could give your thoughts on what the International team has to do to finally win?
GREG NORMAN: I have no idea. I really don't. I think the hard thing for the International -- Presidents Cup International Team that I experience, and I'll tell you what I felt, it's the -- it's trying to get everybody to play under one flag. You can say that about the Ryder Cup, but when you think about the Ryder Cup the guys did a lot of traveling together. They moved through Europe together. They moved through America together. So there was a bit more of a team spirit within the Ryder Cup and the players.
The Presidents Cup, we had a big language difference. And then you have the cultural -- the different foods. And trying to supply the right foods for the right Korean players, and Japanese players and South African players and the Australian players who want meat pies, it was just a very tough logistically to get it right.
If I wanted to have a conversation with a Korean player, you had to go through an interpreter. You lose the message, because the interpreter is probably not going to say exactly the message you want to say, because he may not want to offend the player about what you want to say. So that became to me -- it's going to be very, very difficult for any captain to try to jump that hurdle and make very much a cohesive team.
And all I want the players to do is just play like you play golf. If you play golf individually, treat it as an individual, and play the way you're supposed to, you'll win. Simple as that.
Q. Is it as simple as -- they always have great, I want to say commiseration, if it's when they haven't won. Maybe they need to do that at the start of the week and get that bonding session out of the way?
GREG NORMAN: Look, what is the bonding session? I tried to do different ways of doing it, too, and it just comes down to the players. Sooner or later you're going to be embarrassed when you have your ass handed to you. Sooner or later, you would think they would come together individually to make a team. Once they do that I think they'll have a really good chance of it.
Q. First time The Open is going back to Birkdale since '08 when you and Padraig had that great run. Two things about that. First, where does it rank among your Open venues? How do you rate the course and what do you attribute to your success to that week? It sort of seemed to come out of nowhere. And yet you were like the old days, obviously, it was almost like the same, like ten years earlier, if you could recall any of that?
GREG NORMAN: I can recall about every shot I hit that day or that week. What I loved about it was when I arrived there early, I went to Skibo Castle to practice, which I normally did every year. I looked at the long range weather forecast, and it looked terrible for the entire eight days or nine days we were going to be there. And I thought this is perfect for me.
I threw away the yardage book. I knew if I just played by feel, and at the time -- because I hadn't played a lot of golf. I had to trust my instincts more than anything else. So that week I just -- when I practiced, the weather was bad, I was actually practicing really well. I was starting to feel better and better from the Monday to Tuesday afternoon. And Wednesday morning, I actually said to myself, for a guy who hadn't won the week before, to being Wednesday morning feeling like, hey, I've got a chance if I stick to my most neutral approach to have and be as uncomplicated as I possibly can.
I was hitting 5-irons from 112 yards, little chip-and-run 5-irons. People looked at me like I was crazy, but it worked. And at the end of the day obviously Padraig hit a beautiful shot into 17, put the dagger into myself and Poulter's heart. But at the end of the day, it was just a great feeling for 72 holes of the tournament. I actually thought -- I never thought I was going to lose the golf tournament, to tell you the truth.
I think the momentum changed for me when we came off the 63rd hole and there was like an hour and 40 minute wait or an hour and 10 minute wait. There was a big long wait. There was five groups of players in front of us and we had nowhere to go. So we were sitting under those weather huts they have over there, four sides and four benches, four corners of the compass. And unfortunately for us the only place to get out of protection was sitting in a gold fish bowl with everybody there looking at you. So it was very difficult to keep your mojo going for that whatever time period it was. I think it was an hour, if I remember. But it was very, very hard. When I got to the 10th tee, I felt a little bit more difficult to stay in the moment and really push forward.
Q. We in the media are kind of outsiders, and we're always focused on chronicling wins and losses. I wonder if friendships such as you have to Jack Nicklaus means as much or more than your victories, and if it's difficult for outsiders to understand what peers under pressure, the kind of bonds that they do form?
GREG NORMAN: That's a great question, probably one of the best questions I've been asked in 30 years. Because you have no idea what the bond and how it's formed until you get to a moment in time like this. And you can talk about the rivalries you have in sport, and you can talk about not knowing anybody until you get to a certain moment in time. And really the time is the indicator. The time creates the bond. Because for the first couple of years that you're playing the game of golf, first of all, all you care about is yourself, and wanting to be the best you can be and keep pushing, pushing, pushing. But then you start getting into the arena with the group of individuals, and I mean the group, there's always about 10 or 15 of is us that carry the weight of everybody else. We go after each other.
And you go in the locker room, and one group might sit over here and have their iced tea and lunch, and one guy might be sitting over there. And there never is that bonding over time. It's only over a period of time that you respect each other for what you do and how you approach it and respect each other if somebody beats you and how they beat you and how you message that to that person. And that only comes over time.
True relationships happen that way. And I could probably write a book in its own right just on that with Jack, about the moments we've had, practice rounds and the moments we've had in conversations during those practice rounds. And talking about commissioners of the Tour, talking about the world Tour, talking about things like that where he becomes or you become very much more confident that you can actually get a logical, common sense answer instead of a biased, predetermined answer that is determined in the individual's mind, not in the collective thought processes of the two of you.
Q. Talking about legacy, can you talk about your body of work, what happens inside the ropes and what happens outside the ropes. Can you talk about your legacy, how much what happened inside the ropes is part of that and how much what you've done outside the ropes and continued to do outside the ropes is part of that, as well?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I've pretty much led two different lives. When we walk address the ropes, we're a fish in a gold fish bowl. We're like the athletes in the arena. We're exposed, no matter what we do we're exposed. No matter what we say, we're exposed. No matter what our facial expressions are, they're given out.
So what I did on the golf course, I was extremely proud of. Did I make a lot of mistakes on the golf course? Yeah, everybody makes mistakes on the golf course. Did I get everything out of my career on the golf course? I can honestly say probably not.
But putting that all aside, I maximized everything I did. I cared about everything that I did. My priority was the game of golf first, my country second, myself third. That's the way I was. And I was a big believer in that because as you sequenced to where I am today, if I didn't do that, unbeknownst at the time, subconsciously, I wouldn't be where I am today in the business world. Because the teaching lessons that you learn from taking what you have on the golf course off the golf course, now it becomes a very private one, because my business is private. I don't tell people a whole lot about my business unless you're watching something or announcing something or you're involved with golf course design projects. Nobody really asks me about my clothing business. Nobody really asks me about my wine business. But at the end of the day that world is to private.
And that is the fun world to be in because I've screwed up in business, too. I've lost millions of dollars in deals in business, but nobody knows about it. They don't write about it. It's pretty cool. I like that (laughter).
And I've also made a lot of money in business, right? But I don't tell anybody about it. I just humbly go through my life, like I was on the golf course. And I humbly go through my life off the golf course doing the same thing.
Two different legacies: one on the golf course, one off the golf course. So my attitude is -- I had a finite time period at the peak of my career. It was like 15 years. I have like a legacy in my business world that will go on for 200 plus years, basically forever.
So you understand what I did here was so valuable to what I'm putting in place today.
Q. (No microphone.)
GREG NORMAN: The hardest thing for me was human resources. The hardest thing for me today is human resources, because I can give 30 seconds of my thought and direction and it will create 30 months of work. And what I mean by that is I can see something, I feel it, I know it's the right thing to do, I'm going to go after it. You better have a team in place that wants to go with you for that 30-month journey. Actually we're going to market with a project at the end of this year that will be four years in the making. Four years. And if you don't have that team going along with you, understanding your vision, your thought process, your plan, your execution, it's a tough one. But if you do have that team in place it becomes such an enjoyable journey and so rewarding. Who knows how it's going to play out, anyway. But I do know the formation of great people, great partnerships, it takes a long period of time.
So human resources are the two things. They can make you or they can break you. And you have to identify that very, very quickly in business. And I have a great saying, if you can't change the people, change the people. If somebody doesn't see your vision, then they shouldn't be in your business because you've got to share what is my brand, it's my vision, it's my company. You've got to share that and go through it. If you need to take somebody by the hand and educate them, great. If they want to absorb it, great. If they don't, you've got to be quick enough to say, Sorry, it's not going to work out. We're going to go on and do something else.
Q. I was curious, is the game of golf in general at the moment in good hands with the post Tiger Woods era?
GREG NORMAN: I think it's in fantastic hands. The analogy I would make for my era, it's comparable to the mid-'80s. In the mid-'80s, we had probably 8 to 10 to 12 players that could equally have been No. 1 in the world.
Today you probably have 8 to 10 to 16 players equally in that realm. And it's not just their player ability wise, but it's the way they conduct themselves. Each and every one of them, they absolutely stand up and carry that baton for No. 1 in the world for a long period of time. They feel it. They see it.
So I love where it is. I actually watched golf today and I hadn't watched golf in 40 years. I've never really watched golf, because I do like to enjoy -- even Thursday and Fridays in the gym, I'll turn on golf to see what's going on, to see what these kids are doing. And that's an indicator to me that I like where golf is.
Q. You like where they're going now with rules, particularly the trial by TV?
GREG NORMAN: Look, I think my answer to that is it's a wake-up call for every player in this day and age. No matter what you do, no matter what you say, you're scrutinized. Every shot is recorded. It's high definition television. So as a player you've just got to be more aware, more alert and more astute about the rules of the game are the rules of the game. And if there is -- it could be -- not the intent to break the rules, but because of the technology and high definition, you don't know you've done it, but you've done it.
So I think it just makes a player -- should make the players more aware of where they are and what they're doing.
Q. Do you have any concerns that Tiger may never play again? What do you make of his situation at the moment?
GREG NORMAN: Well, from Tiger's perspective, I'm not going to comment on it. I don't know anything about it, to tell you the truth. I will say this, I do feel sorry for him. Collectively I think you'll hear that sigh in the locker room.
But this is all about The Memorial here. This is all about Jack's event and everything. I do hope he gets himself to a better place in life because nobody, nobody likes to see that happen to anybody.
Q. What do you think he needs to do to get back to playing golf again?
GREG NORMAN: I don't know. I'm not into Tiger Woods' head. I probably didn't say 20 words to Tiger in my entire life. All I do is I hope he finds himself because it's not about golf now, it's about life. And when you have a certain responsibility, you've got to take that responsibility full on. So that's why I hope -- I feel sorry for him. I really do feel sorry for him. And I do hope he gets himself back to an equilibrium in life.
Q. A lot of people consider you the greatest golfer out of Australia, Peter Thomson with his four majors, obviously. What does Adam or Jason or anyone behind them need to do to be the greatest golfer?
GREG NORMAN: I think these guys are the greatest golfers out of Australia in their era. I was in my era. Peter was in his era. It's very difficult to compare myself to Peter or Adam to myself or Jason to myself.
All I do know is that quality people, they have quality golf games about them. They care about the game in Australia from what I see. I'd like to see Jason go back and play a little bit more. But again his family is over here and I understand that because I went through that, too. So it's a very difficult balance to make to support your home sport and to support where you are with your family. So it's a tough one. But they do, the boys go back and support it, and it's great to see that. I think they probably eclipse what I've done to a degree by continuing on the game of golf in Australia.
MARK WILLIAMS: We appreciate you spending time with us.
GREG NORMAN: Thank you.
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