March 26, 1997
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
WES SEELEY: We are joined by Greg Norman, only the second time someone on this TOUR has been able to say that. Glad to have you here.
GREG NORMAN: Thank you. Deep emotional pleasure being here, Wes. Sitting beside you on this auspicious occasion.
WES SEELEY: You think it is easy to come up with something clever to say every time?
GREG NORMAN: Okay.
WES SEELEY: Questions?
GREG NORMAN: Questions?
Q. Greg, how are you playing coming into this tournament and how are you feeling?
GREG NORMAN: I am playing very well. I actually think I am playing just maybe a touch better than I was going into Doral. And my feelings, I feel great. I am looking forward to the next -- I play six of the next seven weeks, so my schedule is very bunched up this year. I am playing a lot of golf between now and the end of August. And, after that, I am not playing very much. So, I am feeling pretty good about things.
Q. Does being away from competition - since it is only your second time out - how much more work do you think you have to do to get back to your A-game?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think A-game physically is there. Whether the A-game mentally is there is another thing. That is why I decided to play New Orleans next week. If I was going to play, take a week off. It would be pretty hard for me to play in that competitive mental frame of mind as you go out there and play. So, that is why I think it is important to play competitive golf. So what percentage that would be, I don't know. I am probably about 75% ready to go play right now in the head.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Ladies and gentlemen, if I could interrupt for just a second. Greg and I were talking the other day, and there he suggested maybe I stop by his interview here at THE PLAYERS Championship, because he and I both are constantly asked questions about what the chemistry is between us and whether we get along or whether we are fighting about something or what. And, we wanted to try to put all that to rest because we have what we think is a pretty good working relationship. And, one last time, if anybody has any questions about it, we are here together and happy to answer anything you might want to know about what we talk about or don't talk about together.
Q. If we accept that you have a good working relationship, how did the theory develop that you didn't have a good working relationship?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: He is Australian and I am Irish. (Audience laughter.)
GREG NORMAN: I think the theory didn't develop between the two of us. It is like anything in business, you are not going to agree on everything 100%. It is how you work those disagreements out is the most important, crucial thing. And I know that just as much as a business as it is on the golf course. If I take a double-bogey on the second hole, I am not going to take that double-bogey to the third hole because it will ruin my rounds, so you have to drop it; forget it; work the situation out in your head. It is the same with any business. Same if I am sitting down at a board room, if you have a disagreement with the board of directors, you have got to work it out. That is one thing that Tim and I have done. It is contrary to what the perception is perceived to be out there and probably hurts both of us because we are both working for a common goal. I have my agenda to work for and he has his, and ironically, they work together. That is why all the way along, yes, we have had disagreements. But at the same time, we have sorted our disagreements out in a professional and manly manner. Our relationship as friends is still the same. Irrespective, we do have a disagreement. That is why I wanted Tim to come in here because it is important that we all understand that there is no feud between the two of us. There never has been a feud between the two of us, and there will probably never be a feud between the two of us. I think that is important for you to know.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Probably.
GREG NORMAN: Probably.
Q. Can either of you or both of you please elaborate on what you have worked out and what issues needed to be worked out and how you resolved them?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: As I have said before, Greg and I have a normal number of questions and issues that we talk about that relates to my job and the fact that Greg is a player. But Greg, like Jack Nicklaus, like Arnold Palmer, like some other players, is also heavily involved in the golf industry and in the golf business. He is an architect. He is a tournament sponsor. He has a lot to do with a lot of different things that move within the golf industry, around the world, and consequently on the business side of things we come into contact. So, we are constantly dealing with each other on a whole range of issues, whether it is the Shark Shootout or his involvement with the new TPC at Sugarloaf or his support --, terrific support, he has provided in our Presidents Cup going to 1998 to play at Royal Melbourne, we just have a lot of issues we talk about. In terms of speculative issues, like what should be the makeup of competition, we discuss it. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don't agree. In the last year or so, certainly in the last six, seven months, when we have a meeting, we probably spend an hour talking about eight or ten various topics of common interest. And, like I say, it is a lot of different things. We respect each other. And, I think we like working with one another. It is just that we are not always going to agree on everything.
Q. So you are not going to fire him, Greg? You are going to keep him around for a couple more years?
GREG NORMAN: I can't fire him. He can fire me, but I can't fire him. No, I think we will keep him around here. Like, you guys weren't privy to the meeting we had last night, but the meeting we had amongst all the players was a very upbeat meeting. Like I said to Tim in our last meeting, I said he is in a very, very strong position because the game of golf -- I have never seen the game of golf as strong as where it is right now. Not only from the players' point of view, but from the sponsors' point of view from the media exposure. I think we have more people covering the game of golf now from the spectators. I have never seen it this strong. You can go back to the mid-'80s when there was a lot of corporate money around and people were spending money not only just in golf, but in everything. The game of golf is so healthy, and I think we are all very fortunate to be involved in it right now. I think going -- what Tim was saying last night at our meeting, PGA TOUR has got a very, very strong grip on the direction they want it to go. And that is all credit to him. And, I can honestly say, when I first came out on the TOUR, our former commissioner wasn't anywhere near as open and easy going with the players as what this commissioner is.
Q. There was a reference in today's paper concerning, at least, one writer's opinion, that golfers were shying away from the media because of some reporting styles. I was wondering if that was discussed last night and what kind of conclusion you came to?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It was discussed. And, I discussed it also in the breakfast meeting this morning with the leadership of the Golf Writers Association. And, the fact of the matter is that there are a vast minority, but small group of people in the press who would rather in their writing dwell on the negative and try to pick up the offhand remark, from any an athlete - now it is in golf - and playing that into a story. That is unfortunate. And, our players are reacting negatively to that. But, in the scheme of things, we recognize the wonderful relationship players have had with media over the years, and we don't want that to change. I certainly think the vast majority of players agree with that concept very strongly. On the other hand, I think it is up to us as an organization, not just the player, if somebody is going to take off unfairly on a player, I think we, as an organization, need to step up and talk to those individuals in the media and try to change their behavior a little bit. So maybe we need to be a little bit more aggressive. But, I think it is -- the good news is that golf has gotten to a point where it is attracting the kind of media attention that - perhaps in a broadened sense - than it has in the past, and these problems are going to occur and we will probably try to deal with them. I don't want to detract from Greg being here at THE PLAYERS Championship - I am going to take off. Greg is a former champion at this event. I anticipate he is going to be right there Sunday afternoon, and Greg Norman and the relationship he has with this tournament is hopefully what your focus is. He and I, together, just wanted to put to rest any continued speculation that there is some ongoing personality problem or working problem that he and I have because there isn't. It is as simple as that.
Q. Do you guys fish together?
GREG NORMAN: Have we fished together?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No. I asked him not to invite me to anything, never as a guest. He talks about -- he talks about -- one time, we were talking about the little bit of scuba diving I have done - eight times - and he starts talking to me about spending times with sharks at 65 feet.
GREG NORMAN: If I was going to get rid of him, I would take him diving. No problem. It would be the easiest thing in the world.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thanks a lot.
GREG NORMAN: All right. In answer to your question in the back about the media and article in the paper this morning, I didn't read it. I have only heard the players talking about it. I think you will find that the majority of the players understand the responsibilities we do have. We understand that there is going to be a negative approach thrown in every now and then towards players or certain players. We accept that. We accept that responsibility. You will find that the majority of the players, that probably all the top players, accept that responsibility. As much as when it happens, we don't like it, but we accept the fact. We don't shy away from the media. We never have. I haven't seen -- I know I haven't -- I might have skipped maybe two press conferences in 21 years of my life. If I go -- if I am asked to go, I go. I think that is the responsibility of being one of the top players. You have got to take the good with the bad.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about this golf course as a challenge when it is soft?
GREG NORMAN: Well, unfortunately, it has probably diminished by at least 50%; maybe more. You have got the rough up this year, but the rough really only comes into play when the fairways are firm because the ball has a tendency of getting through the fairways. The rough is severe, yes. But with the fairways as soft as they are, the ball is only rolling maybe 1 foot, 2 feet. So that means if you are driving the ball well, you shouldn't really be getting yourself into too many bad positions in the rough. Obviously, the greens are soft, absolute pure putting surface. So, I would say it diminishes by at least 50%. So if you are shooting 18-under, under these conditions, normal conditions would be 9-under, that type of thing.
Q. Your thoughts on Jack Nicklaus being named the captain of The Presidents Cup team?
GREG NORMAN: I think it is great. I mean, you have had Arnold Palmer and now you have Jack Nicklaus. You have had two of the greatest icons in the game of golf. I think it just gives stronger credibility to The Presidents Cup.
Q. Are you putting with the Ping you have had for years?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah.
Q. Two-part question: Are you a guy who tinkers with putters? (2), with this kind of a putter war going on with Titleist and Odyssey, have you -- obviously, you don't need the 800 bucks - whatever it is they pay - to play it each week.
GREG NORMAN: How do you know? (Audience Laughter.)
Q. Maybe you do. Can you see players become motivated for the wrong reasons to play certain putters?
GREG NORMAN: I think that is a player's prerogative of what putter he feels like. I don't think players go out there to putt with a putter just because he knows he is going to get 800 bucks. I didn't know that existed, to tell you the truth. I do tinker with putters. I tinker with them at home in my backyard. I always end up going back to the same putter that I have putted with, with that Ping. I have probably putted with that now four years. This is probably my fourth year. So first part, yes, I do tinker, but eventually, I don't come out into the real world under the gun with a putter that I don't feel comfortable with. This putter war, everybody is trying to build everybody a perfect putter, I suppose, and in search of the holy grail - this game is. You never get it. You never find it. You think you have got it. I am trying a couple of drivers now. I think I have got it, and I don't have it. That is just what this game does to you.
Q. You said a second ago that the PGA TOUR has a strong grip in the direction that it is going. Are you satisfied in the direction that it is going?
GREG NORMAN: I think so. Sitting in the meeting last night, 12 months from now, I think they have got a very positive step on it. I think they are understanding the overall dynamics. I mean, I am just very new in the business world, but I understand the dynamics of business, and they have got a lot of good heads on their shoulders. The boards of directors, the outside Board of Directors, the Dick Ferrises of the world and Red Polings, those type of guys, I think, have all really put their right advice in at the right time. And, just from reading and understanding and hearing what I am hearing, yes, I really do think they have.
Q. Have you reached a comfortable level with the swing changes you have been trying to make?
GREG NORMAN: Oh, yes, I am very comfortable now. I mean, it is one of those deals that I really don't think about it. I think about the shot that I want to hit instead of the swing I have to put on it before I have hit the shot that I want to hit. So, I am just eliminating a piece of the equation.
Q. Can you talk about the status of this particular tournament - top 50 players in the world this year, does that increase the prestige of it among the players and --
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think, by far, this is the strongest tournament we play in all year. If my memory is right, it might be -- the PGA Championship might be the next one out of the top 50 that play. You probably know that better than I do. But, from pure strength point of view, this is the toughest one to win. But from a stature point of view, you have got your four Majors. We discuss it every year. You have got four Majors. Leave them where they are. Then you have got the best of the next. And, I would say the TPC is, by far, ahead of the best of the next because of the strength of the field. And, the guys love coming here. They do a great job for us here. Every year, it seems like it just gets that much better. How they do it? I don't know. But, it feels that much better.
Q. Have you talked to President Clinton since the accident?
GREG NORMAN: Yes, I have.
Q. Will he be making a return visit any time soon?
GREG NORMAN: Return visit to? Golf?
Q. To you?
GREG NORMAN: I am sure there will be a return visit, yeah. We have discussed that. And -- just one of those unfortunate accidents. He is going to be tied up. He is not going to be able to do the things he likes to do for a while. Then again, it might have been good for him to slow him down a little bit too. I am not saying hurting yourself is good for you, but looking behind every dark cloud, there is a silver lining, somewhere, for some reason. And, maybe just slowing him down a little bit in that regard might have been good for him.
Q. From what I have read, you were very upset with the whole thing. Are you getting over it a little bit in that regard as far as the accident?
GREG NORMAN: Oh, yeah, we are pretty much over it. At the time, before last week, it was difficult because you were there all the time. I played an extremely low profile on the whole thing. I didn't want to get involved with the getting on talk shows and stuff like that, which I turned down every single one. I never did one of those because I didn't think it was my position to do that. I am not that type of person anyway. I think from our point of view, my wife's point of view and mine, we were looking forward to having a friend over for a couple of days, and as it turned out, that friend hurt himself. And, you know, you feel bad if anybody hurts themselves at your house, but it compounds the problem when it is the President of the United States. So, you know, it is one of those unfortunate things. We're over it. We talked about it a little bit more. Some of the players have asked me about it, so I talk about it with them. But, you know, I won't go into the nitty-gritty details of it - that is for sure.
Q. I wanted to ask what the -- just what the aftermath was like in terms of you getting called and media and all the frenzy that was there. Was that unlike you had ever seen before?
GREG NORMAN: It was terrible. It was ridiculous. There were people hiding in the bushes. They have got a photograph -- I wasn't in it, thank God -- but my wife and my attorney were sitting there and one other person, and I don't think he is in this room, but they got this photograph. How the hell they ever got this photograph, I will never know. Bunch of grapes out in front of the house. They must have been camped out in there with camouflage on to do that. That is the type of -- there were helicopters flying over the house all the time. It got a life of its own. For some ridiculous reason, it got a life of its own. That is why I refuse to get up and do any interviews and talk about it. I have made a press release, and that was it.
Q. How many of those type of things came your way, do you know? Dozens?
GREG NORMAN: Dozens. Literally dozens. So everything from the morning talk shows, from Larry King, all those people wanted to get my idea or my view of what happened.
Q. You talked about having your A-game physically. I know you have spent a lot of time working with Pete Draovich. I am wondering what kind of things you do and how important is it for your game?
GREG NORMAN: Pete and I have been working now nearly four years, and we basically work on stabilization and speed and obviously flexibility. I am not as young as I used to be, but I have a poor back and a poor hip. But, you know, the work that we do basically -- kind of like isolates each and every one of those, and you build up the muscles around each problem, and, that is how I protect myself, through good stabilization. And, I guess if it wasn't for Pete, I may not be playing now. Because '91, '92, when my back was really bad, when I decided to do all this, if I look at my back in X-rays now, I wonder why I am out here playing. But, it is because of the way we have worked at it, and basically picked out certain muscle groups and studied the rotation of the golf swing to put them into our exercise program. I am not out there to build bulk. I am out there to build stability and flexibility.
Q. How many times a week would you put into working out every day?
GREG NORMAN: Every day at home, basically I probably go five days a week. He always likes me to have two days off, either Wednesday or Sunday, or somewhere along the lines like that.
Q. Talk about 16, 17, 18.
GREG NORMAN: Under the conditions, they are -- like they are, as we speak, they are not as difficult as what they would be if they were extremely firm. Mainly because you have got water behind the green on 16 and 17 and when you have got firm conditions and you are going at the green on a par 5, you have a tendency -- you could land on the downslope of the green and run through the back of the green and finish in the water after hitting a good shot. Same with 17. Very difficult to get it close on that back tier on 17 when the green is firm. So, it is not as terrifying with the greens when the greens are soft as they are when they are firm.
GREG NORMAN: 18 is just two solid shots. That is all it is. You have got to hit good driver, then you have got to hit a good 5-iron, 4-iron or 3-iron, like today it was like a 7-iron shot, so those type of -- every shot has got to be solid. Even your first putt has got to be solid. If you don't hit a solid first putt, you have got a 4- or 5-footer off so the last hole is a good finishing hole because you have got to hit four good shots to get your day done.
Q. Are these the type of conditions this week where your records could be threatened?
GREG NORMAN: Oh, I don't know. Anything is possible now on this TOUR. It is hard to say. A guy gets hot is a guy who gets hot. It will be hard there. It might -- they may tie it, but I don't think it will get beaten.
Q. What week will you take off in the next seven weeks?
GREG NORMAN: Harbour Town, Hilton Head.
Q. Then you are going straight to Atlanta?
GREG NORMAN: Atlanta will be my last one. Two of those weeks, I am not in this country. I am out of this country.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about Stuart Appleby's game.
GREG NORMAN: I always thought Stuart was really one of our -- two of our young stars, Appleby and Allenby have really shown that they can take the game on and come over here and win. Robert hasn't, but Stuart has. Robert has done very well every other part of the world he played. It is only a matter of time before he does it here. But with Stuart, you know, when you've got two guys like that, like I played with the two of them today, it is just impressive to see those two just going along with each other. They kind of egg each other along, but they also give each other the need to tell which is needed. So if there was good friendly rivalry out there within Australia, now with two young players, I would say that would be the two. It is just time for Stuart to win here, just as much it is time for Robert to win. So, you know, that is what I said, welcome. He deserves to win. He is a good enough player to win. Once you win over here, you get A little bit more confidence, and he could have easily won one last week too, and he has got the game to win this week. He is long and strong.
Q. Before, during or after the Clinton incident, did the two of you talk at all about The Presidents Cup since it is going to be in Australia?
GREG NORMAN: We talked about it prior to me going down to Australia way back in -- what was that? -- January, February, I think it was. At the house, no, we didn't discuss that. We didn't discuss golf at all. We touched on one subject, but that was about it.
Q. What are the other chances, Greg, do you think of him going down to the Presidents Cup?
GREG NORMAN: President Clinton?
GREG NORMAN: I don't know. I don't know what his schedule is like. I know what his schedule was like to get him to come down for two days. What is it like to get him to come down there for President Cup? I know he would love to be there. I know he loves Australia. We did talk about that. After his visit down there, he absolutely fell in love with the country and fell in love with the people. And he said he is going to come back before his second term is over, so hopefully that will be for The Presidents Cup because I think it will be great for us to have him down there.
Q. You said you have gotten over the President's accident, but have your attorney and your insurance agent gotten over the accident?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I don't think the President of the United States will sue me.
Q. How about the taxpayers?
GREG NORMAN: I don't know. I don't think so.
Q. You've got such a strong record in major tournaments. Do you have a different attitude, both physically and mentally, towards major tournaments on regular TOUR events?
GREG NORMAN: I would have to say yes to that. Sometimes it is harder for me now to get myself up for a golf tournament, and yet when you go to a major championship, I think you automatically get yourself up because of the stature of what you are playing for that week. So, you know, I would have to say yes to that question.
Q. Physically, do you try to keep your swing and mechanics down as simple as possible?
GREG NORMAN: The closer you get to the tournament time, the simpler it's got to be. If you working on anything, on your golf swing on Wednesday night before a major championship, you're in for a hard week.
Q. What are your thoughts on going back to Royal Troon this year?
GREG NORMAN: I have got a lot of good thoughts. I was interviewed about that just recently about some of the holes out there. Even though it is a straight-out, straight-back type of golf course and the postage stamp, one of the great little par 3s, I like it. I've got a lot of good memories and thoughts about it. When we played it, it was extremely hard and fast, so it will be interesting to see when we get back there, whether the conditions are the same.
Q. This particular return to Augusta may draw more media and fan attention because of the way things finished up last year. Do you think that will create a little more distraction for you, even though you are veteran, in dealing with distraction or are you going to change your pre-Augusta routine to deal with it?
GREG NORMAN: No, I am not changing anything. I am going to do my press conference and deal with it like I deal with every other press conference and every other golf tournament I go to. I accept the fact that there will be a lot more hype about it, I suppose. Some of that might play in my favor too. I think there might be a lot of good sentiment out there amongst the gallery. Who knows, I am even getting it out here now. And it is not good luck this week, it is good luck in a couple of weeks. I think people feel that. I can tell you I got a lot of mail after The Masters last year. I am getting almost the same amount of mail leading up to the Masters this year. Obviously some of the people wrote to me afterwards. I am not saying they are. Same people who wrote to me are writing back to me wishing me well the next couple of weeks. It has just been an interesting flow, the sequence, the last 12 months.
Q. Obviously you work very hard to keep the back strong and supple? What do you sense might be the long-term prognosis with it?
GREG NORMAN: Of mine?
GREG NORMAN: Retirement. I think that would be the best bet. Just stepping down one day because I can tell you, when I took that three months off and I didn't play golf for two months, except for the Andersen, I never had a hip problem; never had a back problem. So, that tells you one thing: It is playing the game of golf and hitting golf balls which fatigues my back and inflames the problems that I have there. So, I enjoyed it. Believe me, I enjoyed it waking up every morning without having an ache and pain and having to stretch out to get myself going for that day. So, that is the only answer. I don't see myself having to have surgery. Even though one person said I should do and two others said I shouldn't do. So retirement would be the best way out of this whole thing.
Q. Do you sense there might be a time when you work at it as well or keep it as strong or as supple as you are doing at the home?
GREG NORMAN: I think if I keep my routine going as I am doing, I think I will be strong until I am 60 because I have got a very discipline approach to life and the things I do my workout and things I eat, and my attitude towards life, so as long as I keep that, I don't see any reason why because I think -- I know I am fitter now than when I was in my 20s and when I speak to people in their 50s they feel they are fitter than when they were in their 30s. So, you keep that approach, you shouldn't have any problem.
Q. Did the recent swing changes reduce the load on your back at all?
GREG NORMAN: Yes, they did.
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