August 24, 1997
LEE PATTERSON: Congratulations, sir. Share your feelings with us at this point.
GREG NORMAN: I feel very good actually, Lee, especially the way I played taking away the 18th tee shot - really the way I played from the 7th hole on this afternoon was very strong. I never really put myself in a position to put myself in any trouble to struggle, except 18. And I did what I had to do. I knew Phil and Cooky back there weren't going to disappear. I knew they were going to hang in there all the way along. I had to go out and do the job. I got the job done.
LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?
Q. Nick Price mentioned something about silencing your critics today. Was that on your mind at all, or can you address that?
GREG NORMAN: No, not at all.
Q. Talk about the conditions. The rain, all that stuff.
GREG NORMAN: The conditions, like we have right now? I think it is just indicative of the way the whole tournament went. I was extremely impressed. We got the round done for one. Never imagined we could finish today. The greens were perfect. There wasn't one position on the greens where we had to lift the ball and move because of the water. Yeah, the fairways are a little moist, but we got the lift, clean and place, which was a very smart move by the PGA TOUR to have. But, pretty much we played the same conditions for four straight days.
Q. Greg, you said by your own standards that this year hasn't been a good one for you. How does this help it out?
GREG NORMAN: Well, like I said yesterday, if I win, it will be a poor-plus. So, it is a poor-plus. It was nice to win. It really feels great to win; especially, like I said, the way I did win today. And to win on this golf course - I am a strong believer, you don't come to Firestone to overpower the golf course. I think that is very much a misnomer. I think the secret to playing around here is keep the ball in play. Doesn't matter whether you are 320 off the tee; if you are in the fairway, it is fine. Firestone is not a golf course where you overpower because there is not a lot of Par 5s there to overpower anyway. One of the par fives, nobody can reach in two. So, the second hole pretty much everybody can. So, it is a golf course where you have to play within your capabilities and not try and force the issue in trying to hit a little bit further than what you think. Just accept the fact that it is a long golf course. I think that shows true with the leaderboard. You see Freddie Funk who is not a long hitter. John Cook not a long hitter. But, then you have got Phil Mickelson who is a long hitter. Tiger - I didn't see where he finished - but he is a long hitter. So, how you manage the game around the golf course is the important part. That is the way I played the whole week.
Q. Greg, how does this compare -- how did the feeling compare to the last one when you won on the chip-in in that playoff?
GREG NORMAN: Two totally different feelings. I mean, I won this -- the chip, I never had the lead in 1995. The only time I had the lead was on my own was when I chipped the ball in the hole. This time I had the lead for, I guess - Lee, you might correct me - but I think for about six, seven holes when I birdied 11, I think it was, I think I tied the lead or -- you guys probably know better than I do.
GREG NORMAN: Totally different feel because they are two events in two totally different ways. I am just as elated, -- believe me, I am just as elated inside. I might not have been showing it, but I'm just as happy inside than when I chipped it in two years ago.
Q. You mentioned those last six holes John stumbled and Phil pretty much stayed at 4 the whole time. You make four birdies in the last eight holes. What was working for you out there, mentally and game-wise that enabled you to do that under such pressure and in basically sub-par conditions?
GREG NORMAN: Just had everything working. I hit the fairways. Hit a lot of good iron shots today. I hit them close. I actually had a couple right next to the hole which makes it a lot easier. I thought I made the putt on 16 today. And, there wasn't one putt out there today that I hit poorly either. Every putt I hit exactly where I read the putt. I misread 16. I misread 13. But I had no complaints. Every time I missed the putt, I said, you hit it exactly where you expected the ball to go, but it didn't break. So, there was nothing out there that you could question yourself on. Everything was right.
Q. Aside from your two British Open Championships, is it possible that the two Championships here rank next against your accomplishments?
GREG NORMAN: Oh, no. I could think of a lot of other fun golf tournaments I have won. TPC, I really enjoyed winning that golf tournament the way I won it. I can remember other golf tournaments when you come from 6 or 8 shots behind where people don't think you've got a chance of winning - winning. Every tournament has got a little bit different feel. Every victory has a different feel. But, believe me, every victory means the same.
Q. When did you allow yourself to think that this tournament was yours for the taking, at what point?
GREG NORMAN: When I hit the 7-iron on the 18th green. Really. I mean, even though I had a 4-shot lead -- I knew when I birdied 17, that was the first time I glanced up at the leaderboard, and I knew then I had a 4-shot lead. Once I hit it on 18, I knew, you know, I was going to make 5, and that was the end of the story.
Q. Decision to punch it backward, I mean, how did you come up with that and was that an easy decision?
GREG NORMAN: I really didn't have any other shot. I was about six inches from being able to hit it down to the 18th green. I couldn't because there was a limb sticking out on my backswing there. So I just played, took the safest route really.
Q. Actually -- well, so your idea instead of punching -- you could have punched it into the 18th fairway.
GREG NORMAN: No, could -- maybe.
Q. But you wouldn't have been going for the green, so your idea was to still go forward as much as you could?
GREG NORMAN: Well, my idea was to make 5 and get the hell out of there. That is what my idea was.
Q. You got to play with Nick twice this week.
GREG NORMAN: Three times.
Q. From a friendship standpoint, how much did that help a little today in terms of maintaining, you know, your focus today, having someone that you felt comfortable with?
GREG NORMAN: Well, it is always great to play with your friend because I know, you know, at one stage there we were very close. He had a chance to win, too, but he drifted away from it. When he drifted away, he knew I had a chance to win, so, he was right there. He was saying the right things, too. But, you know, a lot of other players do that. But, it is always nice to have your best friend do that there with you all the way.
Q. You said you learned that you can't overpower this golf course. How many times had you played this course earlier in your career when you reached that point where you realized I can't overpower? Have you played it a lot?
GREG NORMAN: Oh, no, I think I have played it the same way pretty much all the way along because it really isn't any huge advantage here. The only advantage really is -- and when the fairways are hard and fast, you are still hitting short irons in there. Everybody is doing the same. So, when it is playing long like this, everybody is still hitting medium irons into the greens. So it is one of those golf courses that, no matter what the conditions are, it is pretty much the same for everybody. You still can't reach 16 in two, whether it is hard and fast and everybody can still reach the 2nd in 2.
Q. You mentioned earlier that the fun is back in playing. Has the emergence of Tiger Woods taken some of pressure off you?
GREG NORMAN: To win?
Q. How has it helped your game, as far as not being in the spotlight?
GREG NORMAN: I welcomed Tiger - I said this back in November last year when he first started performing right after Vegas, I think it was, around September, October, November -
you know, to me, being a bit of a Godsend for me, really. I have enjoyed it. I love being in the back seat. I really do. I am not one who seeks limelight. I am not one who seeks the hype. I really do enjoy sitting back there and enjoying my life a little bit, more relaxed perspective. But, at the same time, I don't shy away from the responsibilities of the game of golf that I have to do. So, the emergence of Tiger has helped take a lot of that away from me. And, believe me, I have enjoyed it, and he can have it. (laughter) He deserves it. He is a great individual. I have had a lot of time with the guy. He is a great player. But, he can have it for the next 21 years. I just enjoy doing what I do. Like I said, I don't need the limelight or the attention.
Q. Greg, talk about two things. One, is playing in these kind of conditions -- how was it out there?. Secondly, what did you think of the crowds out here in the rain?
GREG NORMAN: Well, it was a sell-out everyday, I believe. And today was no different. Everybody came out and used their tickets. Like I said at the presentation, I thought the crowds here were phenomenal - very supportive for everybody; not just myself. And, you know, I think we found every time we have come to Ohio, when we go to Columbus for the Memorial, same deal, they are very, very supportive of their golf. I just -- I enjoy them.
Q. You said yesterday that golf had not been enjoyable for 12, 18 months, but now it was again. What changed in the last week, in the last month?
GREG NORMAN: Probably just spending more time with the game. You know, when you spend time with something you get to work out your problems and my biggest problem was like I said at the start of the week, I wasn't scoring as well as I knew I could score. When you are not scoring, you are putting the results on the board, you might be able to get it from A-game to B. But, the bottom line is what the number is you are putting down on your scored card at end of the day. And, I wasn't really doing that as well as I should have been. And I went back to work really and worked on my short game a little better. And, really the short game is a reflection on how you play the rest of your game. If your short game is good, you can play the rest of your game with a bit more relaxing approach. If your short game is poor, you put a lot of pressure on driver and irons. You know you can't hit fairway and greens, so that is probably the gist of it.
Q. I remember a couple of years ago, I think it was at the British Open when you made a bogey - you said that was actually a good thing because it got your focus going again. Was the bogey at 6 - I think it was - that kind of case today, or what was it at 7 that really got you going?
GREG NORMAN: No, not really. At that stage, I knew I was still right in the thick of it. When I walked to the 8th, I knew that guys behind me weren't doing anything either. You could tell because there were no roars from the galleries. I said at the 8th tee, "They are not doing anything, you made a couple of bogeys, just forget about it. Do your own thing." Didn't do anything to spur me on. I just kept myself in a nice patient mode.
Q. Greg, you have won two plus the Andersen - a million bucks, plus the Andersen and yet you say, "Poor-plus." Can you talk about the standards that you set yourself at?
GREG NORMAN: Well, that is one thing I have always done, is set extremely high standards for myself. Ever since I was 21 years old, I suppose. I think that is what motivates me, what drives me. You know, this year, quite honest, I had -- the start of the year, my major performance was very pathetic, to say the least, for me- well, for anybody, anyway because I missed two cuts. And, then, really, the British Open, I wasn't a factor. And, PGA I felt like I could have been a factor, but I didn't get it over the hump. So, from that perspective it is a poor year. Winning twice out here -- I know when I won in Memphis there were a few people made comments about "Big fish in a little pond," you know, I mean, I think that is -- I think that is a pretty sad statement to make because there was a lot of other great players here on the Tour. And, I think that is a very shallow statement to make. But, to win anywhere is hard against these guys. It is just as hard. And, you know, so winning this week helps and I mean, I forgot all about the Andersen. That was so far long ago.
Q. It was this year.
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, what did I win two million bucks already this year? That ain't bad? (laughs)
Q. You say you are happy that the limelight has kind of shifted from you. Do you still crave the satisfaction that will come of winning another major at age 41?
GREG NORMAN: Absolutely. I look forward to that day. I know it will happen. Because I love the game so much. I love to play. I love to practice. I love what happened out there. That is what it is all about. And, you know, if you can do it at the World Series, you know you can do it at any other golf tournament; let alone a major championship. It is in there. I know I am a winner. I mean, there is lots of times you just don't win, sometimes. And, there is lots of times when I will win and I look forward to that. So, I am going to take this on until 1998 with a lot of zest.
Q. You have got your game back and you have got some enthusiasm back. This is the time of year you start to slow down.
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I am done now, really. Only reason why I am playing a couple of more tournaments is to get my 15 in. Now, what have I won here now? 18? If the major championships counted on the PGA TOUR, I would have 20 and that would mean I am exempt. So, that would mean I wouldn't have to play anymore.
Q. What are you going to play? What will you finish with?
GREG NORMAN: I am going to play Canadian and THE TOUR Championship.
Q. What about overseas, anything?
GREG NORMAN: I am going to go to Lancome the week after the Canadian Open. I am going to play a couple in Australia. Shark Shootout. And, I think that is it. I have got about four, five tournaments left.
Q. You ranked 66 in driving distance. Is that a misleading stat at all or have you consciously changed your game?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I am definitely not hitting the ball as long as I used to. But, that doesn't -- I don't look at the stats because lots of times I don't hit the driver off the stat hole. Like I said, around here I have changed my game a little bit. I have changed the way I play the game a little bit and I guess I enjoy it more because it seems like I have a little bit more control over it.
Q. When did you start working harder on your short game? Was it after the U.S. Open?
GREG NORMAN: That was right after that, yeah. Right -- probably I went home because I went and played the week before at the British Open and I spent a week at home just on my putting green everyday for two hours a day. After the U.S., every time I have gone home I have spent two hours -- just dedicated two hours everyday to go down the backyard, whether it was raining -- if it was raining, I put my rain gear on and would chip and putt. And, you know, really applied myself to doing that. I have got a great little short game there in the back of the house, I might as well use it. I hadn't been using it.
Q. Why did you get away from doing that?
GREG NORMAN: I don't know. I used to go down there, but I didn't go down there with the depth of time that I do. Now, I guess, I enjoy it just as much because my little boy loves to play. He comes down there and chips and putts with me now in the afternoon. He gets -- well, we were at summer break, but when he goes back to school, he always comes down and chips and putts with me just before dinner. So I think that is nice as well.
Q. There is a lot of talk lately as far as changing of the guards players under 30. Do you feel that win sends a message that you are not yet ready to pass on the torch?
GREG NORMAN: Well, there is that hype again, you know, I am not even over that. I just go out and do my own thing. And, you know, a story is good for everybody and everybody wants to write a story and whatever the story is, so be it. I don't pay attention to it. I really don't. I get asked questions like that, but I try and keep away from it because I know that is not the case. The case with the game of golf is you have got to learn how to get the ball in the hole, doesn't matter whether you are 20 years old or 50 years old. And I have seen too many great players winning in their 40s and great players are still going to win in their 40s and they are still going to have 20 year olds winning when they are 20 and in the 30s. It is just going to happen. Guys are going to win irrespective of what age they are. I expect one day at 50, roll a win on the regular Tour, I really do because you can see Hale Irwin has got every chance coming out here on a certain type of golf course and beating the younger fellas just as much as anything else, so....
Q. Greg, do you do anything different when you are in the fairways on a wet day like this as far as hitting the irons, less divot, more divot, anything that you change in your game?
GREG NORMAN: No, not really. We had lift, clean and place today which was a great decision by the PGA TOUR staff. But, no, you still go and hit the same shots. We don't pick it any differently. Might be one situation where you got a 60- or 70-yard sand wedge shot, you know the ball is going to spin so much, because you have got a dry ball, you have got a dry club, you have got it teed up, that is when you got to change where you land the ball, but that is about it.
Q. Greg, six birdies on this course today and in some measurement would be considered, spectacular, but would you say your play today was more steady and methodical than spectacular or a mixture of both?
GREG NORMAN: A good strong-steady, I would call it. It wasn't spectacular, but I hit a lot of great irons shots. The shot I hit at 17, for example, from 168 yards, that was a great golf shot. I would say a good strong-steady would be the best way to put it.
Q. Can you go through your card for us.
LEE PATTERSON: Birdie on 4.
GREG NORMAN: Driver, 2-iron, just off the edge of the green, chipped it in from about 18 feet.
LEE PATTERSON: Bogeyed 6 and 7.
GREG NORMAN: Driver, left rough, 6-iron short of the green. Pitched it on to about 25 feet and 2-putted. 7, 3-iron, right rough, chipped it to about six feet, 2-putted. 8, driver, 6-iron about 18 feet. 11, hit driver 9-iron to about 18 feet. 12, hit 5-iron to about seven feet.
LEE PATTERSON: 14.
GREG NORMAN: 3-wood, 6-iron about seven feet. 17, 3-wood, 5-iron to about seven feet. And, 18, I hit driver -- well, right, and laid it up out on the 10th fairway and 7-iron onto the green and 2-putted from downtown.
Q. You set a couple of examples of how the weather changed your round today.
GREG NORMAN: Changed my round?
GREG NORMAN: I don't think it changed my round at all. Pretty much the same all day. The way we started off, it was raining, stopped, you know, pretty much just on and off all day. Wasn't really any change that you had to make because of the weather because we knew exactly what we were getting all day long.
LEE PATTERSON: How far was that 7-iron on 18?
GREG NORMAN: I had 157 yards to the front of the green, so I hit it about 165.
Q. Did the weather change Tony's job much from a caddy's perspective?
GREG NORMAN: It is a pain in the ass for the caddies. They hate it because they have got to be the octopus. They have got to have six more arms. They really do. We give them the putter; they have got the towel, they have got the umbrella, all that stuff. It is very, very difficult for them. It is teamwork in bad weather and a good team always makes it easier for the guy who has to hit the shots.
Q. How did Tony get a yardage from that 10th fairway?
GREG NORMAN: He just --
Q. Walked it?
GREG NORMAN: Ran down to the green, walked it back. That is why I took a little bit longer.
Q. I believe they said on TV that your 7-iron only just cleared the trees; is that accurate?
GREG NORMAN: Well, cleared. It doesn't matter. I was trying to get over it, so....
Q. Was there a thought in your mind that there was a possibility of not clearing it?
GREG NORMAN: No, shit no. It was always going up over the trees. Never a doubt. That is the hype again. You want to believe all that hype. (laughs)
Q. You have had quite a bit of success on this course. What is it about it that you like?
GREG NORMAN: Like I said the other day, I feel very comfortable here. I enjoy playing here. I got a good feeling for the golf course. I know the different conditions. I know how to play the golf course in different winds. I have played here -- my last time I played here -- first time I played here was 18 years ago, so I feel like I have been out here a long time. I haven't played 18 straight years here, but I have been here enough to understand the golf course.
Q. When you looked at the leaderboard first time on 17, were you surprised?
GREG NORMAN: I was -- I thought I had a 2-shot lead going to 17. I think John bogeyed 16, that is what I was surprised with. I think -- I thought he knocked it on the green in 3 and going to have a makeable birdie putt from the -- what I judged from what the gallery was saying, but I guess he didn't hit the green in 3.
Q. He hit a flag.
GREG NORMAN: Oh. Then I knew I was going to be okay.
Q. Greg you said you thought the guy in his 50s or 50 could win out here on Tour.
GREG NORMAN: I said under certain conditions he could.
Q. What about the Majors, do you think it is possible and, if so, do you think it may be possible for you in say eight, nine years?
GREG NORMAN: Geez, give me a chance, Andrew. Geez. Ask me that in eight, nine years' time. I'll be there. I don't know whether I will even play golf when I am 50. You know, I have said that before. Time will tell. But, you know, I am sure my competitive drive will still want me to be out there competing. But, tell you the honest truth, I would say yes, Andrew. I think finding the guys in their 40s now, Tom Watson, he is extremely fit. I know Tom works out. I know I work out. You know, so there is guys in their 40s making their transition into 50, who are 46, 47 are still fit and strong. They are still hitting the ball a long way. They have still got the control over their game, even their short game. So, the answer is yes. I would like to see it happen because I think it would be great for the game of golf. It would be great incentive for Tiger Woods thinking here he is, he is 21; he has got 29 more years and he has still got a chance to win a Major Championship. No other sport in the world gives you that. And, I think that is great for the game.
Q. What does a win like this do for your confidence?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, of course, it gives you confidence. It is a great feeling, feeling of satisfaction. I'll enjoy it more tomorrow morning, I think. Takes me a little bit longer to let things soak in. I guess when I have a couple of beers and relax tonight, because, you know, you are just taken right out of the arena and right here and really don't have time to be absorb what goes on sometimes. And, I think tomorrow I'll probably enjoy it a little bit more than I am right now.
LEE PATTERSON: Anything else?
GREG NORMAN: Thanks a lot.
LEE PATTERSON: Appreciate it.
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