March 7, 1997
LEE PATTERSON: Tell us about it.
GREG NORMAN: As good today as it was yesterday. Is that enough? Is it over?
LEE PATTERSON: That was pretty quick.
GREG NORMAN: I can't fly at nighttime, so I've got to leave.
Q. Don't you have to wait for Nick?
GREG NORMAN: He's going to have to come back early in the morning. I don't know what he's going to do.
Q. Going to leave him here?
GREG NORMAN: Have you got a bedroom for him?
Q. We could probably find a spot, being that some guys will probably be checking out.
GREG NORMAN: Is he going to finish tonight or are they going to blow the whistle?
Q. He's on 15.
GREG NORMAN: Okay.
Q. Can you talk about the differences in the weather between yesterday and today? Yesterday was beautiful, sunshine, soft breeze. Today the wind kicks up, it turns dark.
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, just that the breeze was steady for us all day. When we teed off the first hole at 1:30 and we had the northeast wind blowing at 12 mile an hour, I guess, and it stayed the same way all day. And, it's nice when you've got weather like that, because at least I play under a consistent wind, you know how the wind IS blowing. It's when it gets variable in strength and direction, you start getting a little bit confused. But, I've played here enough now to know how to play the golf course in any wind, basically. So it's a comfort zone for me.
Q. We kept hearing about the tough new Monster, and right now, the cut number is probably going to be the same or even lower than it was last year. And you're at 10-under, on pace for 20-under. So, is it all cosmetic or is it really a tough course?
GREG NORMAN: Well, they asked me that question downstairs, and my only answer is you've just got to give the players their dues. The players seem like they get better and better as each year goes by. No matter what golf course you throw at them, the guys seem to -- if they're on their game, they're going to shoot the scores they're doing. There's only a couple of golf courses that get even with the players and make you really play. And, those golf courses are when they get hard and fast, i.e., Shinnecock, i.e., Augusta National. I've seen Muirfield Village play under extremely hard conditions, like at the Ryder Cup. The guys had a tough time shooting the scores there. It's the only way you can slow up the scoring with these guys out there. You give them soft fairways. You can give them -- ask them to drive it up a gnat's ass, and they'll drive it up a gnat's ass and make a birdie - that's how good they are.
Q. Speaking of which, yesterday, that was your strength, obviously, driving the ball?
GREG NORMAN: Driving it up what?
Q. On the line, on Raymond's lines, as you said. You said today was just as good as yesterday. Did you drive the ball --
GREG NORMAN: I drove the ball better today; more so because of the crosswind. I don't really tout the product very much, but I'm using this new XS ball. It's a new two-piece ball. I've been used to using a wound ball, the old tradition ball. Any two-piece ball, in the crosswind, the spin ratio stays vertical, and it holds its line better in the crosswind. I was hitting the ball solid, so any crosswind, the ball was going straight. You talk about technology, going back to why the guys are doing the scores they're doing, the technology does that. The golf balls go straighter, equipment, you know, but still the guys have got to swing the clubs, and you still have to make the putts. The greens are getting better. They're smooth. Here we are late in the day and you very rarely see a spike mark. So, it's all part and parcel of why the scores are staying consistently low.
Q. That ball is on the approved list?
GREG NORMAN: That ball is on the approved list, yeah. (Laughter).
Q. Greg, the way you're playing this week, does it remind you of any of your three victories here, any one in particular, maybe 93?
GREG NORMAN: No, not really. I'm not relating back to the way I played a couple of years ago or the way I won. No, I don't think there is any correlation that you can compare either way.
Q. You said last year, even though you won, you didn't think you were playing very well. Are you playing better this year?
GREG NORMAN: I'm playing well now, yeah. I'm hitting shots, like the 18, the 9-iron in 18 in a crosswind, I'm starting to feel very comfortable with. And, that's a nice feeling to have. Because as Tony says, you're starting to play golf again.
Q. Greg, is there any golf course where you feel as comfortable as you do on this one or are there other courses where you feel like you know exactly what you're going to do?
GREG NORMAN: Like Royal Melbourne I feel comfortable, Harbour Town I feel great. Augusta, I feel great. What's another one over here? St. Andrews, I love playing. So, yeah, there's probably a good dozen golf courses I love to play. Huntingdale is another one. But, those golf courses, when you get to the first tee, you know exactly how to play the golf course.
Q. Go through the card real quick.
GREG NORMAN: First hole, driver, 3-wood, 2-putted from 18 feet. 3rd hole: Driver, 5-iron, 1-putted from about 15 feet. 4th hole: 6-iron, front bunker, 2-putted from about 15 feet. 5th hole: Driver, 7-iron, 15 feet. I birdied 7?
Q. No, 9.
GREG NORMAN: I birdied 9. 9, I hit 6-iron to about 18, 20 feet. 10: I hit a driver, 3-wood right bunker, holed it for about 10 feet. 13: Birdie, a 4-iron in the lip, exploded out to about 15 feet and 2-putted. And 18: Driver, 9-iron to about 11, 12 feet.
Q. What was the distance on the 9-iron at 18?
GREG NORMAN: 135 yards.
Q. Tee was up a little, Greg?
GREG NORMAN: Tee was up a little, maybe 12 Tone said. We had 260 something to carry that bunker. Yesterday we had about 278, I think it was. So, 263, something like that.
Q. Did you have any birdie chances on 8 and 12, the two par 5s?
GREG NORMAN: 8 I did. 8, I drove it in the left bunker. I pitched and wedged about 20 feet. 12: I drove it up the rear end of a tree; chipped it out sideways, holed a 15-footer for par there. And, then I hit the next series of holes, a bunch of great putts that never went in. So, 18 was just enough to crown the day.
Q. Greg, can you talk about Nick and how he seems to have gotten things back in gear?
GREG NORMAN: Well, he was in gear. He just wasn't putting very well. He was striking the ball very well, all that time. And, he just wasn't making any putts. I don't know whether he lost confidence in his putting, but now his confidence is back. So now he's just playing the way he normally plays.
Q. Have you played with him at all lately?
GREG NORMAN: No, we haven't. We just go and hit balls, we don't normally play. And, he hits balls different times than I do. I like to go out early, he goes out late.
Q. Greg, when you were talking about the courses that you really feel comfortable on, is there anything that they share that's in common, other than the fact you just know them?
GREG NORMAN: I just know them. Being around them enough you get to know them. Muirfield Village is another one where we play The Memorial. You play it under all the conditions, whether it's windy or whether it's dead calm. And you know the lines to hit it. When you get up on a tee and know where to hit it, you don't have to say, well, okay, the wind is coming out of here. I don't really know where to hit it now because I don't know what the wind is going to do with the ball. That's a big difference. So, all of those places I've played so many times, and I've played them well, too.
Q. Greg, when you started practicing for Dubai, is that when you realized you regained some of your length and how much of it have you gotten back?
GREG NORMAN: Oh, I don't know how much I've gotten back. But, I knew before that, when I went to the Andersen, that I was picking up a little bit of yardage that I've been missing for a couple of years. Holes like 18 where you get up there and a little into the wind and rip it across the bunker, I hit it 135 yards, that makes you feel good knowing you can do that again. So I knew before going to the Andersen that I was getting myself in a better position.
Q. Just the grip change that made that or have you done something else?
GREG NORMAN: A grip change?
Q. That created a little more length?
GREG NORMAN: No, I didn't change my grip.
Q. You didn't?
GREG NORMAN: Uh-huh. Not me.
Q. Greg, some guys -- seems like some guys are complaining about 18, it's a hard driving hole for a lot of guys, and you can't miss left, you can't miss right, you've got to kind of throw it back right and try to get up-and-down. What do you say to them? How important is length? Is it a fair hole?
GREG NORMAN: You can say that about a lot of holes we play. And, the thing is, you know you've got to play them. Most of the time when you hear those complaints on a Tuesday and Wednesday you know you've got an advantage over the guys, because they're already worrying about getting to the 18th when they're getting to the first tee. I've been the same way where you feel, oh, my God, there might be a hole that you don't like to get out there and play. But if you start beating yourself and convincing yourself, you've just got to tell yourself to keep playing the hole. You can't stop at 17 and walk in. You've got to figure out the best, irrespective of who you are, figure out the best way to get the job done and go on. But, I guess I've complained in the past about things, too. That's the way -- the best way to handle it for myself and everybody else, too.
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