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August 25, 1999
JAMES CRAMER: We have Greg Norman with us this morning. Qualifying for this NEC
Invitational by virtue of his position on the 1998 International Presidents Cup Team.
Greg, you've won twice here at Firestone Country Club. Maybe you could get us started by
telling us about coming back to a place where you've known such success.
GREG NORMAN: I personally think of all the golf courses we play on the PGA TOUR, this
is the closest one to a U.S. Open setup. It's a got the length, the narrowness of the
fairways. It's got heavy rough. It's got precise iron play. And I think of all the ones I
enjoy playing, this is one of my top, top ones. We've seen conditions over the years of
the golf course not being the best. But I think we all enjoy coming back here because of
the pure layout of Firestone Country Club. I haven't seen the course yet, but I'm sure
it's not going to be any different than what it's been in the last couple years, and I'm
sure it will be great.
Q. Yesterday's conferences were all a referendum on the upcoming Ryder Cup. Your team,
I know it's (inaudible) apples and oranges, but had a much more decisive victory. Do you
guys feel lost in the shuffle a little bit?
GREG NORMAN: Not at all. We're probably glad we're not involved in the shuffle. I think
what's -- the difference, in comparison with what I've read in the media and the
newspapers, is the Presidents Cup was structured in such a way where the profits went to
the players, and the players then just obviously handed it on to their respective
charities. I see that as the difference. Presidents Cup is a thought that took place
probably six or seven years ago between myself and Tim Finchem. If we couldn't play on the
Ryder Cup Team, maybe we should look at playing the rest of the world against the winner
of the Ryder Cup. That was the initial thought -- to incentivize the international players
that don't have a chance to play on a team competition. The international players who play
to a high level of the game right now -- the Els, Price, myself, Elkingtons -- we've never
had that opportunity. We've had the World Cup and the Dunhill Cup. But to play a format
like the Ryder Cup, a true head-to-head battle comparing all the emotions, mental energies
that's drained, through the four or five weeks leading up, we wanted to feel that
ourselves. So the when the structure of Presidents Cup came along, I guess there was a lot
more forethought. There wasn't the lineage of time that created where the Ryder Cup is
right now. Remember, the PGA of America probably lost a lot of money in the early years
with the Ryder Cup. Now they are making some money; so therefore, people are opening their
eyes up and want to know where it's all going. They see the Presidents Cup; they see that
we've got $100,000 a piece to give to our respective charities. You can see from a
players's perspective to be asking the questions that they are asking. Because of the
players that play on the Presidents Cup, compared to the Ryder Cup, in their mind has a
lot more image and history and feel about it from the Americans' point of view, because
it's got the tradition to it. They can see they are getting only -- what is it? A $5,000
-- whatever they are getting. I don't even know the true number. We get that, plus
$100,000. And we they think maybe should get that, and plus a little more for the Ryder
Cup. I can understand that. I'm glad I'm not involved with it. But I'm just telling you
what I'm seeing through newspapers and magazines.
Q. There was an article in Sports Illustrated calling the Presidents Cup -- saying it
was cluttering up the schedule and it should be gotten rid of for the Americans. What's
your reaction to that?
GREG NORMAN: My reaction to some comment like that is, first of all, A, is you take it
with a grain of salt, because you don't know whether it was a factual comment. B, you look
at it from the pure fact that myself, personally, if I got an opportunity of playing for
my flag -- and again, you've got to understand, the International Team, we don't play for
the Stars and Stripes. European Team, they don't play for, you know, the Union Jack or the
Spanish flag. They play for a conglomerate of flags. But when you can play for your
country, if I can play just purely for Australia, no matter what sport that I'm
represented in, that would be just a huge honor for me. I don't see it as clutter. I can
only see it as betterment of the game. Clutter comes from cluttering up your schedule by
playing tournaments for appearance money and playing in exhibition matches. That, to me,
is clutter. When you've got something that -- the short-term history of the Presidents Cup
or the future, long-term history that will be created through the Presidents Cup, and the
good the Presidents Cup does for respective charities, giving away -- what is it? $2.3
million for charity for one event. That's 24 players plus the captains, maybe 2.6, 2.9. I
don't call that clutter. I think it's good for the image of golf on a global basis. I
think the terminology of the word is the wrong choice.
Q. Would you have any objection to playing the winner of the Ryder Cup each time?
GREG NORMAN: That was my initial suggestion. That's how it should have been. Don't
forget, you've got the Europeans and the Americans and the rest of the world, that's a
pretty formidable force. And I think there will be a fairly good balance between having
that and the winner playing the winner. You can do a rotation system like that. I thought
that would work very, very well. I don't see that ever changing right now. I see the
original -- since the inception of the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup -- I don't see it
flipping back to where the International Team plays the winner of the Ryder Cup. It's too
well established now.
Q. There was a story in Golf World Magazine --
GREG NORMAN: I personally haven't spoken to Tim about it. I know Bob Collins was up
there Tuesday in Jacksonville. I haven't got a full brief on it yet. I haven't spoken to
him. I know Andrew was asking me this question last week. I will not be playing my full
12. But I did have -- I did send letters out to the PGA TOUR, and my doctor sent letters
to the PGA TOUR at the start of this year saying that I wasn't going to play a full
schedule because he didn't know what the reaction of my shoulder would be at the end of
the season. I'm going to Vail for two to three days of work with Dr. Steadman the week
after next. So I'll be there. He's going to give an evaluation of the shoulder. I haven't
seen him since -- when was the last time -- more than a year. So now he's going to give an
evaluation. If he gives me a clean bill of health, I might just pop in a couple more and
go play. But I knew I couldn't go and play 20, 22, 23 tournaments this year. That was my
outset and basically the direction I took right from the beginning of the year.
Q. Do you anticipate playing a fuller schedule, at least 15 next year?
GREG NORMAN: It depends on what happens the week after next. You know, I feel pretty
strong in my shoulder. I feel like I've got a lot of mobility in my shoulder. At times,
where I don't practice for a couple of days, I feel like it gets tight again. Cold, damp,
rainy weather doesn't do it any good. I need to give a bit more evaluation on how to go
about it. Maybe there's a new exercise program after 12 months that I might have to get
Q. Have you thought about what you might do if you're denied a medical exemption?
GREG NORMAN: If I'm denied a medical exemption, I think I'm allowed to play about ten
or eleven. Maybe five or seven exemptions, plus the majors. So, you know, I'll just play
the schedule and go play elsewhere if I wanted to play. I've got enough work going on in
other parts of the world where, if I couldn't play the number of tournaments that I would
like to play here in the United States, then I'll obviously look elsewhere.
Q. How many do you need to play, anyway, when you throw in the world events and the
GREG NORMAN: Totally, I would be very happy playing with about 18 to 20 tournaments
next year. That's 15, if I need to play the necessary 15. If I don't have the medical
exemption, then I'll play my 11 or 10 or 8, or whatever it is I need to play here, and
then go play. But I wouldn't like to see that happen, because I wouldn't like to see it
where I went to play my X number of exemptions where I'm allowed to play, invitations, and
I wanted to play in one later on in the year, and they said: Sorry, you couldn't play.
That might be a little embarrassing for all of us.
Q. You used the word "clutter" and what's good and not good for the game of
golf. With the benefit of hindsight, I wonder whether the exhibition in Sherwood in August
is good for the game of golf. Some observers have suggested that perhaps it's not.
GREG NORMAN: I can only speak for my personal experience. I've turned down exhibitions
like that. I had a chance of playing against Tiger when he first came out on the TOUR, and
I opted not to, because I had -- I just think that there was -- again, this is my opinion.
There was enough talk about how the players are and how greedy they are, playing for a $1
million for a first prize and 400,000 second prize. When you really look into it all,
there was a lot more to it than that. I thought the players got a very, very bad deal. I
thought the players weren't greedy and got the minor share of the takings. So for the
image of those two players, Tiger and David got out of that whole exhibition match was
unfair on them, because it's a not a true reflection on who actually made the most amount
on that deal. The players are obviously invited to this because of their stature in the
game of golf. They make the decision on what they can fit in their schedule. Going back to
that word "clutter," it's up to the player whether he wants to clutter up his
schedule or not. That's a situation where they felt like it was good for the game in their
mind. That's why they did it. But I just feel that, not all of the media reports -- some
of the media reports called these guys greedy. And I don't think they are were greedy at
all because of how much money they were playing for. A million-dollar first prize; what
was it, $400,000 second prize? So from a player standpoint, I don't think it's cluttering
it up, because you make your own choice. If I was going to clutter up my schedule, I would
be doing all that, doing exhibitions, playing my 15 tournaments, traveling down to
Australia and end up being exhausted at the end of the year. That, to me, is clutter. Plus
all the outings you've got to do throughout the year for your respective companies.
Q. Do you think rotating events is a good idea? And where will that leave Firestone if
it's not played here in 2001?
GREG NORMAN: Sometimes it's great to keep coming back to the same place. Augusta
National, I feel that way about that tournament. Going back to old territory, good
memories, bad memories. Firestone is the same. You come back to good memories, bad
memories. I enjoy this golf course. I think that over the decades of tournaments being
held here, they have supported the game of golf very, very highly here in this part of the
world, even when the economy hasn't been great in this part of the world. I think a lot
has to be taken into consideration. I'm not the one who makes the judgment call of it. But
I'm just saying that I would like to see tournaments have a home, because they build up
tradition and history and you can compare yourself to who did what 20 years ago, and your
name is on the map.
Q. If you were running these world events, is there anything else you would do
GREG NORMAN: We don't have enough time. (Laughing.) I'm sure everybody has got their
own personal views. I do. But I don't think we need to open up that file.
Q. I saw a note that you're the oldest player in the field. Maybe it's because I'm
about the same age you are, but it just doesn't seem like calling Greg Norman the oldest
player in the field -- it just doesn't sounds right.
GREG NORMAN: My wife has brought that up to me a couple times at a few tournaments in
the past. She said: I think you're the oldest player in the field. Okay, well, that's a
good news/bad news situation. The good news is that my strength of play has stood the test
of time, the fact that you can stand up with these 19-year-olds now. I guess Tiger is
getting over the hill at 23. But 19-year-olds coming out and doing the things they are
doing. But that just shows you what you can do in the game. Whether you are 19 or 44 or
70, like Arnold Palmer, playing to this day, the game of golf allows you to do that. And
that's the beautiful part about it. I said that the strength of a person's character is
built over a period in this game. It's not built over one, two, or five years. There's a
lot more to just playing the game, and how you handle it when you do. The only test is
being out here as long as possible. So to say I'm the oldest one in the field, I guess I
feel pretty good about it.
Q. Will you miss the World Series format at all, the champions only?
GREG NORMAN: In a way, this is kind of it. But I will miss it, because there's certain
things about when you won, coming here and going to La Costa; that was a caveat for your
performance in a given week. And there was always that incentive in the back of your mind:
Boy, this is my schedule. I know I can play well at these golf courses. If I can do this,
then I can put in this tournament here. And when I used to do my schedule, I always used
to do it: I'm going to play these 13 tournaments on the assumption I can play La Costa and
Firestone. And if you don't win, you had to jack up two tournaments to get 15. That's the
way I did it. I had a strong incentive with the way I did my schedule. So make sure I
played well enough to get in it.
Q. We went down memory lane yesterday with Jose yesterday about his 61. When you won
the first time, I think it was with a chip-in in the playoff. At the moment, many stories
had arisen where, that after a number of things like that have happened to you, it was you
making it happen to someone else. Can you reflect back on that, that first win here on
that last hole? Did you define it as that kind of moment?
GREG NORMAN: Not at all. I define it from the moment -- I had an opportunity. I had a
fairly easy chip. I remember the chip very well. I was in such a focus at the moment,
there was -- I can still remember the spike marks sticking up that I wanted the ball to
run over, which was the apex of my chip. And that was about 15 feet out from the hole. I
went in and hit that, and that's when I knew I had chipped it in. I can remember that so
vividly. I can even take you to the spot where I was. Not thinking about what happened,
who chipped in against you at the time and payback or whatever, you don't think about
stuff like that, because the people who did it to you weren't on the receiving end when
you did it to somebody else. It's just a matter of executing, do your job, and playing the
best shot you possibly can at a given time.
Q. I realize, Greg, this is 72 holes of stroke play and people are playing for
themselves exclusively this week. But with the Ryder Cup being a month away and with the
Presidents Cup being six months away or whatever, can you see any early messages being
sent, any pride developing, even though they are playing as individuals?
GREG NORMAN: I definitely feel that way. I think the players now in the immediate
future, the Ryder Cup, now that all of the majors are over and done with, they are
definitely gearing for that. Because four weeks goes by very, very quickly. I imagine a
lot of guys on the European Ryder Cup team, it will be their last event before they head
out to Europe and come back. They want to leave America leaving the statement that we made
-- and yet there might be some who say: I don't really want to get too far in tune four
weeks out. But I definitely believe the players, as competitive as what they are,
definitely will be going in with that attitude.
Q. Would you care to handicap the matches please?
GREG NORMAN: I haven't seen them.
Q. I'm talking about the Ryder Cup?
GREG NORMAN: I haven't seen the pairings.
Q. That's like six of them.
GREG NORMAN: Has it been automatic pairings or they say they want to put --
JAMES CRAMER: Compare the four major champions this year together and then they tried
to put as many American -- international American Europe.
GREG NORMAN: They try to split it up.
Q. I wanted to see if you can pick a winner for the Ryder Cup?
GREG NORMAN: No, I'm not going there. (Laughing.)
Q. Can you tell us what turned things around for the Presidents Cup team, and if there
are any lessons there that either you learned that the previous European underdogs have
taken in or something that Europeans can learn from your team?
GREG NORMAN: The thing that really sticks in the forefront of my mind is the team
spirit that we had. We worked extremely hard for two years. Remember, we had all that
debacle and rhetoric running around about the allegations of who ousted who at the
Presidents Cup many years ago, the captaincy. And we all knew the exact truth of how that
all took place, and the interpretation was incorrect. At the end of the day it was
starting to spill out on the players. So the players started talking within ourselves, the
practice rounds. For two years, we started talking about gelling this thing together as a
team. We don't play under one flag, but we play together as an united front against a
very, very strong, powerful American team. So we started our team spirit way back then. So
nothing was going to interject in that. We were going to get into our zone. We had this
university city. All of us worked very hard with the captain on who we thought should be
the selections. Peter Thomson was very, very close with us. So by the time we got our team
nailed down, we already had a huge amount of team spirit and enthusiasm. So when we went
down to Australia, there was no way we were going to get beaten. We were relaxed. There
were no outside agencies, like this Ryder Cup, maybe the internal turmoil running within
certain players within the team. Our team was very, very unified and I think that was a
big plus. I think when I look at team sports, that's the most important thing, and the
most crucial thing for the captain to do is get the guys feeling good about everybody.
I've seen it in the NFL, the NBA, other sports, individuality is not good for team sports
and I think that comes down to the coach and the captain to gel all those people together.
So from the Ryder Cup's point of view, I've seen that happen with the Europeans. And they
were down and out, the team -- Seve did a wonderful job with them, inspiring them, talking
to them. That's his nature. He's got that matadorial spirit. Mark James is doing that
since he was elected as captain. I've seen him and just heard little snippets on the
driving range from the players on how they are all getting together. So team work -- Ben
Crenshaw started it on the PGA, and I think that's the key to it.
Q. Do you think the selections (inaudible) putting his stamp on it?
GREG NORMAN: Every captain is going to put his stamp on it. I remember Peter Thomson
saying the hardest part of his job was picking two choices. You can go down and say: I
want 13 or 14 and just get out the easy way. Or you can be like Mark James and people are
always going to critique him and say: Why did you pick him, why did you pick him. But at
the end of the day, that's the captain's decision. That's the hardest decision he's got to
make because he knows he's got to kick off two three or four guys because they had the
expectation of getting in. You are going to go in and say this is my decision, and we're
going to go in and win on these terms and let's go. But I remember talking to Peter
Thomson on a site visit one time at a course in Melbourne, and he anguished over it. He
was already gray, but he was turning gray trying to decide what to do. But that's got to
be a tough one.
Q. I asked this of David Duval yesterday. There was all the fuss over the money, but I
wonder if the players, did they see this in any way as an effort for the Ryder Cup. Is it
sort of a perk?
GREG NORMAN: This tournament year? Here? I definitely think it's the carrot out there
on the end of the stick. You've got to give a little bit back to these guys. PGA TOUR
probably recognized that to some degree. We touched on the question before about how do I
feel about this not being just the winner. I personally like it where it's just the
winners. That can incentivize you to go play. The incentive to play on the Ryder Cup or
the Presidents Cup team is a great incentive because you're playing for your country, a
different format, different feel; you're playing with your buddies. I don't see anything
wrong with team sport. The hardest thing being in a team sport is the guy missing a
4-footer to lose for the team. Everything else in the week is going to be a great week.
That's the way I feel about it. I don't think Michael Jordan went to play in the Olympics
for a specified amount. I think he went there because he was playing for the Stars and
Stripes and the same with all the guys who represent whatever team in any sport. But I
personally like this as the winners coming back here.
Q. So getting back to a question I asked earlier, if the International side wins the
next Presidents Cup on these shores, do you think that maybe the golfing world fans,
journalists, observers, might have to speed up their timetable for saying the Presidents
Cup and Ryder Cup are maybe drawing closer in terms of prestige?
GREG NORMAN: Prestige, maybe. Tradition, not. Because tradition only comes from the
characters of the players who have performed on the stage. And you can go back and think
of some wonderful matches and wonderful comebacks that only compare over a period.
Prestige, you can almost create. But when the tradition and the history of the game --
however long it takes a Presidents Cup to get to where the Ryder Cup is now, the Ryder Cup
is going to be that much further ahead. So it's going to be very, very difficult for the
Presidents Cup to catch up with stature and tradition and history to the Ryder Cup.
Q. Are you going to play the Dunhill Cup this year?
GREG NORMAN: No, I will not.
Q. And secondly, is Graham Heimli (ph) going to caddie for you?
GREG NORMAN: No, I don't think so. Where is he from?
Q. He's an Aussie. Someone told me he had worked for you in the past?
GREG NORMAN: He might on one off-week, but I can remember my caddies who caddie on a
consistent basis. He might have done it on an one off-week somewhere, but as I say, I
don't remember. (Laughing) "You did a great job that week -- what week was
Q. We've got one of the World Golf Championships that is match play. Do you think it's
particularly effective in identifying players who might be good in match play events, the
Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup, and if so, do you think additional points should be
given to people who fair well there?
GREG NORMAN: I don't put a whole lot of stock there because match play is a totally
different format. It depends on your mentality on each given match. Mentality comes into
consideration of how you feel about the individual playing: Is he your best friend is he
your worst enemy. Did you like his demeanor on the golf course. Do you not like his
demeanor on the golf course. Those kind of things affect you on how you play head-to-head.
And match play, in the Ryder Cup format and the Presidents Cup format, is probably the
height of tension. Whereas, when you're playing in a tournament, you're only playing for
the victory of the check, the prize money of that event. But when you're playing match
play in a team event, you've got 11 other guys riding on you. If you're the last guy
coming down the last hole straight head-to-head, and you've got to make it, nobody in this
room or no public person who follows the game of golf could ever understand what goes
through that person's stomach, mind, adrenaline, the nerves, nerve endings. It's
gut-wrenching. So you've got to be able to pick a guy that can handle that situation
through past experience, and that doesn't necessarily mean that because he won a few
tournaments in the match play event that he is going to be able to handle it in the Ryder
Cup. There's very few guys that can do it. I mean, I only touched on a very small piece of
it myself in the Presidents Cup. But I would hate to be that guy coming down and having to
make that shot and having to do it. You'd better be locked in on your task at hand.
Q. Who would you want to do it? Can you think of a couple guys, if you could pick
somebody to have had a last putt?
GREG NORMAN: You know, even if you wanted to think about who is the best putter in the
world, you don't know how their reaction is going to be at the given time. No matter how
great a putter you are, you only have to just his time it by a fraction and you're done.
I'm trying to think it while I'm answering, leading up to the answer of your question.
Probably somebody with -- who is A, got the experience, to know how your body reacts; that
would be a veteran like a Hale Irwin or a Jack Nicklaus, somebody who has been there and
done it enough times to experience it. And on the other end of the scale, I go to a young
kid who just wants to ram it right in the back. Let me get this job over and done with and
go have a beer with the boys. He doesn't know anything different. So somebody really
young, or somebody really experienced. Look at Sergio, total class act from a kid who is
19 years old. A wonderful new wave of energy coming into the game of golf through him.
You've got Tiger who has got the ability. Got the skills to do it. He's got youth on his
side and he's developed a little bit more experience. He's got probably got the perfect
marriage between standing out there and doing it. But from the older aspects, you start
looking in the Ryder Cup players. Who is on the U.S. Ryder Cup team? Davis Love? O'Meara?
He has got the ability to do because of the stroke he's got, the tempo of his stroke. I
don't think anybody would want the job, but I think everybody would jump at the chance and
say just give me that chance to do it. If I do it, I do it, I don't, I don't.
End of FastScripts