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October 29, 1997
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you for sharing some time with us this afternoon, Mr. Norman. Any questions you may have?
Q. Greg, congratulations on the formation of the world tour.
GREG NORMAN: Thank you. It took a while, but it turned out all right, I think, yeah.
Q. So how do you feel about that now, essentially your idea has come to fruition?
GREG NORMAN: How do I feel about it? Well, I think it's good for the game. I welcome it. It's been a long time coming. But you've got to understand that I took a lot of heat and a lot of criticism early on, which hurt, for obviously different reasons people have different perceptions and different reactions to it all. But, you know, in hindsight, I think it's the right thing. The arrows can hopefully come out of my back now and we can all go forward. Like I said, it had to happen. The game of golf is heading that way. It's going to continue heading that way. The more you can incorporate golf on a global basis, the better off you are. You know, I understand why it happened a couple years ago, why people, separate groups, weren't all for it. I think there's only one word for that, and that is control. Now control is there, in their mind, and let them have it, let them go with it, let them see what they can do it. As I say, it's good for the game of golf.
Q. Are the parameters the same as what you had envisioned? Is it going to settle your need to get the world golf noticed in the right area?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think we're going to get it noticed more so now. I think from my point of view, the need for something like this was, A, for the players, but B, for the game of golf; people in the world who actually only get to see some of the best golf played on television. When I think back to when I was sitting down and trying to get the best for everybody, best for the media, best for the players, best for the spectators, is to get the best players in the world, the best coverage in places where people don't get a chance to see it. Most of the time nowadays, to do that, huge amounts of appearance money have to be paid. You only get a couple of guys going anyway. That's the way you try and get the best golf tournament outside the major championships. Now, with a bit of luck, we've got three, possibly four. And that will keep developing over years. Maybe by the year 2010 or something like that, a long-term view, there will be something up there on a full scale basis. You know, when I sat back and listened to it all, take it all in, I'd get images of what I was saying three years ago and what I was hoping happened three years ago. Water has gone under the bridge, here we are, it's going to happen.
Q. Any tougher for you to schedule yourself for the year? At least three events, now there's a significant tournament really from February through November. The Presidents Cup is in December. Is it going to be tougher for you to find an off-season? Are you going to be able to play matchplay in February? Is that too early for you?
GREG NORMAN: I always play somewhere overseas in February anyway, either in Australia -- pretty much in Australia, maybe playing in a tournament in the Far East. I don't think you're going to add to any more events. Again, going back to the original philosophy that I had, I always wanted to play the U.S. Tour three years ago. I always said I wanted to play, keep my commitments. But also I'm an international player, and a lot of the guys are international players, and they're always going to travel. So you're not actually adding on any more or forcing any players to play any more. I was still going to play my 15 plus the eight that we hoped to have on The World Tour. Now we have three. So you play your 15, I'll play my 15, whatever the number is, then play -- if I want to play the three, I can play the three. So you're really not adding any more. The schedule does get very tight. Obviously there's going to be overlapping. Obviously, again, it's going to be opposite another tournament, full-field tournament. But there's a lot of golf tournaments that clash around the world, that overlap each other. I don't see it as an added weight to the amount of tournaments you have to play.
Q. You have specific tournaments that suffer a little bit, but these new events will more than make up for that exposure for the tours, is that what you're saying?
GREG NORMAN: Correct, yeah.
Q. Greg, the first couple years at least two of the three events were in the U.S. Would you like to see more of them eventually played overseas?
GREG NORMAN: I haven't read or heard what happened in the announcement this morning. I know there's talk of having one in the Pacific rim in the year 2000. Am I correct in saying that?
GREG NORMAN: There's one in Valderrama in 1999. Am I correct in saying that?
LEE PATTERSON: Yes.
GREG NORMAN: So, you know, one out of three isn't too bad. I'd like to see it balanced out. I'd like to see it spread throughout the world on basically a 50/50 basis, because I think it's only fair. Majority of golf is played here in the United States because it's the country with the largest population. So you can't cater a 50/50 split, whether it's two here, four here, four overseas, the United States can handle that.
Q. What does it do to bring PGA TOUR Australasia into the bigger picture now? What does it do for Australia as far as getting them involved with the world tour? How do you feel about your home country being involved?
GREG NORMAN: I think that's really the silver lining behind the dark cloud, if you want to call it something like that. I think from the small operations, like the South African Tour, I don't know whether the Japanese Tour is involved. I'm sure they will be somewhere down the line. From the Australasian Tour, it gives them a piece, like I explained before, to get the Tiger Woods of the world, myself back to Australia, the Nick Prices, the Ernie Elses. Especially Nick Price and Ernie Els, automatic clash, because their Tour is going on at the same time our tour is, because it's the southern hemisphere. It's difficult to pull those guys over. By having the smaller satellite -- not even satellite tours, but the smaller tours involved with it, they'll get a huge benefit out of it, probably more so than the U.S. Tour. Now, just like the Presidents Cup going down to Australia, when you get 24 of the top players in the world going to a small country, with the popularity that the game has, it's going to be a huge boost. So that's what's going to happen. If there's a tournament that goes down in the Pacific Rim, if it does happen to go to Australia in the year 2000, that would be wonderful. Wherever the tournament is, you're going to have 30 or 40 of the best players in the world going there. That's going to boost the economy for the Australasia PGA TOUR. You can see how it works. I think it works better for the outside tournaments, outside tours, more so than the U.S. Tour, because they get the chance of having all the top players there.
Q. Do you think it will trickle down to the Juniors and everybody involved with Australia, with the Presidents Cup and this announcement, will it trickle down to make Australia a booming golf country like the U.S. has been the last few years?
GREG NORMAN: I think Australia has been booming anyway. Every time I go back there, they say the game of golf has just been on a steady increase. Now, whether it goes and peaks, don't forget, if you start spiking, it can go the other way. I'd rather see a steady climb happen in the game of golf than a spike like the stock market, then a crash and spike. That's the secret to having good growth in good business, have a steady growth. No doubt you'll see it jump up a little bit, especially with the Presidents Cup. As far as I know, the thing is sold out. I know with tournaments that I run down in Australia, we're sold out of sponsorship. Almost 12 months before you have the event, the Holden International, people want to be involved with golf. It's not a difficult sell in Australia. That's what the Presidents Cup has found, the USPGA Tour has found. They didn't have a problem selling out the ticket sales. I believe there's 180 Bucks apiece for a ticket. The sponsorship sold out very quickly. I'm sure it's exactly the same in South Africa, if the Presidents Cup went there or, what do they call this thing, World Championship of Golf?
LEE PATTERSON: Yes.
GREG NORMAN: WCG. When that goes down to South Africa or Japan, the same thing is going to happen. Don't think you'll have a problem.
Q. Given your success at Firestone, how do you feel about the event with the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams comprising the field, replacing the World Series of Golf? Any thoughts on that?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think the World Series should have a special -- in my heart it definitely does because you work hard to get into that event by winning a certain tournament or somewhere in the globe. Then, again, you look at the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup, you have to perform exceptionally well to get on either one of those respective teams. I think from the incentive point of view, it's pretty much the same. I don't know whether that's the sole criteria. Lee, you know?
LEE PATTERSON: It is.
GREG NORMAN: It is the sole criteria?
LEE PATTERSON: Yes.
GREG NORMAN: That's going to be a small field. You're going to have your best players there anyway. What is in the Ryder Cup, 13?
GREG NORMAN: 24. You have 48 players. Out of those 48, I'm sure you're going to have 40 of them winning tournaments and would have got them in there anyway.
Q. Greg, what about this tournament now, your thoughts on the course going in, general thoughts about yourself as you get ready to play tomorrow.
GREG NORMAN: I feel very good, very strong about it. I like the golf course. It's playing long. Seems like hitting a lot of 4, 5, 6-irons all the time, all day long. I think it's a great venue for this championship, I really do. You know, it sets up well for good players.
Q. Do you agree the tournament is won and lost on the greens, as some other golfers have said?
GREG NORMAN: That happens every week. Irrespective of whether they're 18,000 square foot greens or small greens we have at Hilton Head, every golf tournament is won or lost in the greens. Can you hit it perfectly and not get it in the hole, hit it bad and get the ball in the hole? That can be said anywhere. These greens probably outside of St. Andrews, the largest set of greens, continuous for 18 holes that I've ever seen. You know, you're going to have a lot of -- hopefully not a lot, but a lot of 100 footers. The guy who lags great this week is the guy probably going to be right there at the end.
Q. Greg, I'm not sort of considering any sort of smugness, but do you feel a certain satisfaction now that this has come about?
GREG NORMAN: This?
Q. The World Tour, this World Tour, do you feel a certain satisfaction because of all the flak you took and you have been proved right?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I'd have to say yes. Yes in two senses. Yes, it's happened. And, yes, a lot of my ideas are in place. I think it goes to show that I had the foresight, I had the knowledge of what makes the players tick, what makes the game of golf tick and what people are looking for. I suppose when I sit back and take stock of it and see it, understand it a little bit more, I mean, I'm going to probably read the transcript of what happened today, we all had a meeting this morning with Tim, there's a lot going to come out, as time goes by. But, yeah, I feel a sense of satisfaction. I'm glad it's over and done with. As I said, I hope the arrows and the bullseye comes off my back now and everybody can just go on. All I want to do is play golf, enjoy myself. As I say, I think it's great that Tim Finchem and the Federation of tours have gotten together to do it -- have done it, excuse me. I'd say I'm happy.
Q. Have any players thanked you for getting the ball rolling on this now that it's happened?
GREG NORMAN: No, not yet.
Q. Getting a finder's fee on this?
GREG NORMAN: You know I won't get that (laughter).
Q. Do you think there's any chance this would have happened, your venture, if your idea hadn't taken place? Do you think we would have had this right now?
GREG NORMAN: I think it would have eventually happened. Might have been a long time down the line because I think you would have found everybody was very happy with their environment. It's like any new idea, it's hard for people to accept sometimes. It just takes a period of time for that to sink in. I don't think it would have happened maybe not for another ten years. I would say, yeah, it was a big catalyst, it happening within the five-year time frame.
Q. How much of a role do you think the business world has? You have companies thinking global that weren't five years ago. Do you think that's part of it as far as sponsorship; countries interested in being exposed around the globe instead of one country?
GREG NORMAN: The thing that really got me sparked on the whole thing three, four years ago when I was sitting thinking about it, was the exposure television was getting on a global basis. I think if you look at that as priority one, then the sponsors are going to take into consideration what's your audience. Take Formula I, the perfect example. One of the few sports on a biweekly basis that goes on a global basis. Not even soccer, I don't think, gets beamed around the world on one moment in time for an hour and 40 minutes like Formula I does. There was huge exposure. You look at the sponsors of Formula I, the Fosters of the world, the Goodyears of the world. They lock in right on the audience of what television gives them, how much air time they get, the exposure they get. That's exactly what we thought about with The World Tour. I'm sure it's exactly the same as what the WCG thinks about right now, is the exposure. Then you come to the sponsors and go, "Okay, Oracle, IBM, whoever you want to go to, you're a global company, this is what we can offer you, are you interested?" Boom, you'll find that they'll do their numbers and come up with a price. Perfect example, I believe Andersen Consulting, right? I mean, their sponsorship in the Andersen World Championship to this point must have been millions of dollars. I guarantee you it was closer to ten than five because it was a global sponsorship package. Obviously they thought it was great exposure for them because events were being played all around the world. Obviously their decision to stay in, because they are staying in on the matchplay, shows you that their value for dollar is right there.
Q. During the press conference here, the Commissioner mentioned your name a couple of times, thanked you actually. Did he mention you at the players' meeting?
GREG NORMAN: Yes, he did.
Q. Greg, looking back at this past year, has there been a year when so many young golfers have come onto the scene as this year, not just Tiger, but Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson? When you look back at this, will this be one of the significant aspects of this past year, even though obviously the veterans like you are still on top of the game, so many new guys seemed to have come along?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think you're always going to find there's going to be a new wave of kids coming out. Every kid who comes who is two years from wanting to be a professional golfer has his dream. So he's going to come out there with a lot of more vengeance, a lot more fire in his belly because he can see what can happen in a very, very short period of time out there, with the prize money being as huge as what it is. I don't even know if they mentioned the prize money for the WCG. You're starting to talk about $4 million plus tournaments. For a 21 year old, that's huge. You'll find, like the record for my money list, that will be gone in two or three years because you'll start seeing these guys going out there, three events, three to five million dollars per event, million dollar first prize, you win a couple of those, you do well on this Tour, four million you win in a year. If you're a good player, you do that on a repetitive basis, within five years, you're going to break all money lists. Every young 21 year old should see that and that should be his goal because there's a lot of money to be had out here. When they come out of the starting blocks, they've got no fear, they're ready to play. It just depends on how long they continue on with it. Time is the only thing that will tell that.
Q. Are you saying it's the money that's bringing out the brilliance in these kids? There's always been kids, but suddenly they're winning all the money?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think that's got a lot to do with it. I mean, their incentive, it's a business. I mean, they're out there, they love to play the game. Golfers are the most fortunate in the world of any sport because we have longevity, have the ability to play the game, basically was a hobby for us, turn it into a business. You're doing something you love to do as your business, obviously you're going to make a lot of money out of it. That is a criteria that you have to think about. I'm sure the guys are dying to play in the Tour Championship because it's the highest prize money of the whole year.
Q. I don't mean to belabor it, but what is it now? It can't be just that there's more money involved there for the kids? Have they been better prepared? Is it college golf? You used to say it would take five or six years on The Tour to start to win money, to be consistent, just as a rule of thumb.
GREG NORMAN: Wasn't my rule.
Q. But now they're coming out and winning scarcely out of college.
GREG NORMAN: Well, like I said, when they come out of those starting blocks, they're ready to play. Tiger Woods, he played more golf as an amateur than he did as a pro. So he was groomed for it. All these kids are groomed for it. They're getting great collegiate golf scholarships. They play six days a week. They have to be on the driving range early in the morning, go do their schoolwork, go back to the driving range late in the evening. So they're getting it all the time. They're getting competition. There's a lot of events that they can play out there as an amateur. There's a lot they get into as a pro, too. So when they hit the ground, they're hitting the ground running. I think that's great. I think the country that's been most successful out of all of, if you want to read up and study about it, is Sweden. You can go back ten years ago, European media guys will understand this, you can go back ten years ago, there wasn't one good Swede player that would come out here and consistently perform week in and week out. Now we have, what, a dozen good Swedes. One just won the America Cup a few weeks ago. There's a perfect example of the government getting behind and promoting golf or promoting a sport, giving them scholarships, giving them places to go play and practice. When these kids come out nowadays, these young Swedes, boom, they're off and running. It all starts at the grass root's level. But their number one incentive is to get there out on the PGA TOUR and make 12 million bucks in their career, quickly as they can make it.
Q. What have you been doing during your time off, Greg?
GREG NORMAN: Just a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Business. I really haven't done much. Just enjoyed being at home for a period of time.
Q. Did you have any holidays?
GREG NORMAN: Just one big holiday, I suppose, but it was all mix and match. Did a little bit of fishing. Spent a lot of time with the family. Just enjoyed being at home.
Q. Didn't go anywhere special?
GREG NORMAN: No.
Q. Thought you had some big trip planned.
GREG NORMAN: No. It was very quiet.
LEE PATTERSON: Anything else? Thank you.
GREG NORMAN: Thank you.
LEE PATTERSON: Appreciate your time.
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