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June 16, 1999

Greg Norman


LES UNGER: We're pleased to have Greg Norman with us this afternoon. And I think Greg is the first player we've had sitting here who has just come off the golf course. So rather than conjecture, we can get some real facts about how the course is playing. So, can you brief us a little.

GREG NORMAN: Well, I think the golf course today is a lot better than yesterday. The greens are a little firmer today. I think they may have gone out and rolled them last night, but they've got more speed to them. Overall, I think of all the U.S. Opens I've played in, this is by far the best, by tenfold. I think they've done a phenomenal job in the setup of the golf course. They've maintained the integrity of Donald Ross, and the way you should play it. This is the best U.S. Open I've seen, and that's pretty much the word on the driving range and the putting green. Everybody is in agreement that it's going to be a fantastic Open. It's going to be an Open that's more of an international Open. A lot more players could win this golf tournament than we've seen in the past. And I think that's a credit to the USGA for setting up the golf course the way they have.

LES UNGER: There's been a lot of talk in the last day or so about what the rain will do. Are you saying it hasn't had much effect, or how would you put it in your words?

GREG NORMAN: It has softened it up to a degree. We haven't had a lot of rain, but the greens have got enough speed on them now that I think you have to be very, very careful on where you hit the ball on the greens. You have to be very careful where you miss-hit your shots. You don't want to be long on any one of the greens by any means. So the golf course is not as fiery as probably what they'd like to have had, but I think it will improve the next couple of days as they dry out, and they'll get the conditions the way they want.

Q. Greg, when you say this is truly a international Open and more players can win, do you mean because they've brought more of the bump-and-run game in around the greens?

GREG NORMAN: Yeah, that would be the correct answer. Before the U.S. Open was more of a -- you had to be very conservative. The driver wasn't in your bag; the driver is in your bag this week. You're hitting a lot of those. There's a lot of medium-iron shots into these greens, and if you miss the greens, you've got a variety of different shots, anywhere from putting with your 3-wood to putting to 4-, 5-iron. So that the guys who grew up in Europe, and the guys who play in Australia and the U.S. guys, we've all played these type of golf courses before. So right now it's more of an open Open, I would call it. And it's great that the U.S. Open is that way this year. And I hope they stay that way for years to come.

LES UNGER: What will your weapon be on the short shots? We've heard a variety of them discussed.

GREG NORMAN: I think it depends on the location of the pin, how much grain is on the slope. Again, I think the it's going to be a slow week this week, because the players that miss the green are going to take a little more time to study how much grain is in the slope, which will dictate what shot you need to hit the more grain there is the more 3-wood, run upshot it is. The less grain, the less potential you have of bumping-and-running, depending on the severity of the slope and depending on where the pin is. It's going to be your call one second before you pulled the club out of the bag.

LES UNGER: When was the last time you used the 3-wood for that purpose?

GREG NORMAN: I've used it for years. I think some of the Australians would know, that we play where there's a lot of runoff around the green. I grew up using that 3-wood putt shot since I was in my teens and 20s. So I know that shot and I've played it before; so I'll use it here if I have to.

Q. You alluded to the driver. How often do you see yourself using that, and any more so in this tournament than in the past, is it the short rough?

GREG NORMAN: Well, the rough is a little shorter, and I think, again, I'll go into that in answer to the second part of the question. The driver, they've given us more room off the tee to use that driver. On Pinehurst, the way Donald Ross designed this course, he wanted you to put the ball in a certain location on the fairway, and sometimes that means getting it down there. And the USGA has given us the opportunity of getting it down there. At the same time with the rough not so deep, now you can go down there, and you have 160 to 180 yards to the middle of the green. Now you have a problem: I can get it on there; do I run it on there. If I get a flier, I'm going to go over the back of the green. There's no rough to arrest our ball if it comes out high out of the rough; so now you've got the ball coming out hot, hitting a green a little firm, and racing off the back of the greens. Whether that's by design or good judgement, I don't know, but they've done a great job of keeping the rough at a certain height where you can get aggressive, but that aggression could come out and bite you at some time during the week. So how many times I use a driver, out of the 10 holes, I probably use it nine times, eight times, something like that. I'm using -- 7.

Q. That's more than normally?

GREG NORMAN: Usually a one time driver, 7 time 3-wood and a couple of 3-woods.

Q. Greg, you mentioned people taking a lot of time around the greens and going over their options. That's going to affect the people in the fairway waiting to hit their shot into the greens. How do you deal with slow play at the Open? What do you think when you've got five extra minutes on your hands?

GREG NORMAN: Well, you really don't think about too many things, but the pace of play has been dictated all the way around. You wouldn't stand around 5 minutes, unless there's a ruling. You just learn to deal with it. You walk slower. Sometimes you're going to be in a position where you might have to take that extra time. So everybody is going to be in the same position. Not everybody is going to hit every fairway and every green. We'll be put in the position where we have to wait for somebody to get up-and-down off the edge of a green, and you learn to deal with it over the years. I don't think there's any secret to what you do; it's just being patient.

Q. Explain why you get the 3-wood shot around the green?

GREG NORMAN: Well, the 3-wood has about 15 degrees loft on it, and what you can do is depending on the amount of grain, that, you can deloft your 3-wood, and you've got enough swing on the golf club, and you don't have a lot of backspin. If you take a 5-iron, 6- or 7-iron, you get a lot of backspin, the first bite of the grain on the hill, it stops very quickly, and the ball has a tendency to come back to you. With the 3-wood, you have the opportunity, it's like a loft on a putter. You can have four degrees; it gets it up on the surface of the grass, quick enough, so it starts rolling with a lot of topspin. You've got the momentum of the ball going up the green.

Q. Greg, coming back to play now, what's the state of your game, and the level of your confidence going into an open?

GREG NORMAN: State of my game is good. Level of confidence is good. Not way up there, because I haven't been playing a lot of golf. But all in all, I feel very comfortable about the approach. I feel more comfortable because of what I've seen out there on the golf course. I just enjoyed walking around there. It's a pleasure to play this golf course. This is going to go very, very high up on my list of favorite golf courses to play right now. I played very few golf courses on the PGA TOUR that challenges you in every aspect of your game, from the putting all the way down to your driver. And Donald Ross has done it here. I know I played THE TOUR Championship here a couple of times, but yeah, I didn't like it as much as what I love it now.

Q. Greg, could you talk about missing the Open last year, and did you watch it at all, and what were your thoughts on that?

GREG NORMAN: It was at Olympic, wasn't it? I did watch a little of it. Not a whole a lot. You don't like sitting out missing major championships. You like to be that in the thick of things, whether it's golf course, love or hate, it's the U.S. Open. It's not very fun. Olympic, I like that golf course. I played well around that for a few tournaments. It's just one of those deals that you've got to play the cards that you were dealt; and so, I just sat back.

Q. Greg, just off the top of your head, first of all, how do you define what you call the "Donald Ross philosophy of golf." The 3-wood shot we're talking about, on which greens would you visage this?

GREG NORMAN: Well, the philosophy of Donald Ross, is the way he's structured the greens. He built this as a second-shot golf course by the way he built the greens. There's not a lot of trouble off the tees. Not a lot of fairway bunkers. If you are in the fairway bunkers, they've got new sand; so the ball can nestle down, but you can actually get out of the bunkers and onto the greens. But he designed it as a second-shot golf course. And the way these greens are built, which are inverted basically, and there's a lot of run-off areas within that. There's one green out here, I think it's the 5th hole, is probably an 8,000-square foot green, and only 700 square feet of pinnable surface. You think about that that's 7,300 square feet of movement of the green. So it's a very, very precise second-shot golf course, and that's the way Ross did it. He moved very, very little dirt on this golf course. Building the fairways, he moved all the dirt, pushing the greens up. It's a golf course where you don't go for the flags on many, many occasions, par-3's, especially. You're going in with 4-irons, 5-irons, 6-irons, you're looking for the middle of the green. You're looking for the safest 20-footer or 30-footer you can possibly get. So I'm lost -- what was the other part? The 3-wood? Unless you've been out there and walked around, it's pretty hard for me to tell you where would it be. But the situation where there's probably a 4- or 5-foot back of the green, and the flag is probably 20 feet on top.

Q. Any greens in particular, that's what I meant.

GREG NORMAN: No. 2 is a perfect example. Anywhere right of 2. Back of 5, I guess, back of 6, back of 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 -- you can go through a whole lot. They're all there to be had with that type of a shot.

Q. How's your putting right now?

GREG NORMAN: I've spent the last couple of days working on it, and I feel comfortable with it right now.

Q. Find anything specific?

GREG NORMAN: Most times when a guy is out putting well, it's not technique. It's timing. Just a matter of getting your timing right, and sometimes getting on the green with a certain amount of pace to it. I like very fast greens, so I felt like I got my timing back by coming here and putting on these greens.

Q. Greg, did you -- could you comment on your rounds, the last three rounds, what it's been with your play?

GREG NORMAN: The last three rounds?

Q. The last three tournaments.

GREG NORMAN: It's been fair. Nothing great. When I went to Hilton Head, I felt like I hit the ball fairly well there, but I didn't score. Muirfield was probably where I hit the ball the best, better than Augusta, but I didn't get the ball in the hole. I came off a fairly long break, came back to Muirfield, and really didn't have my scoring game with me, but my hitting and striking the golf ball was good. I wasn't very discouraged with that. And last week in Memphis -- I was talking to Andrew, my timing was out with my putting, so I didn't get my scoring game that; so I came back -- came up here and spent a lot of time working on these greens.

Q. Greg, how much work did you put in on your game from Hilton Head until Memorial, and what did you do during that time?

GREG NORMAN: Hilton Head to Memorial, I didn't do anything. I was fishing. I didn't take my golf clubs with me. I did some fishing and some work. I was out of the country pretty much for three weeks. But there was no golf involved with that. But when I came back, I gave myself a good ten days before Memorial. And I've played every day. I've hit balls every day since then.

Q. Greg, just some players you think might fare well on this type of golf course. You did say it was open to a lot of players. If you could maybe just a few off the top of your head that you think will have the game suitable for Pinehurst?

GREG NORMAN: Right now, I'd probably say there's 30 guys have the ability to win this golf tournament. Pretty much all the guys drive a ball straight and long, but a lot of the top echelon players, their short games are good. You look at anybody that's got the creativity. Jose Maria, he comes to mind, because of some of the shots he played around Augusta National, the little bump-and-run shots. So he's got the ability to do that. He's got the visualization and the imagination and creativity. But there's 30 guys here this week -- I can't rattle off the 30 names, but you can go down the top 30 guys and say every one has a chance to win here.

Q. Greg, did your performance at Augusta convince you you're capable of winning another major, and would you put yourself in those 30 guys?

GREG NORMAN: Yeah and yeah.

Q. No question about the greatness of this course. Everybody agrees with that. Has the Open become too big of an event to come to a small -- to a village, a venue like this, where it's remote?

GREG NORMAN: Well, the only bad part about this week is the accommodations, it's got to be tough for everybody. You've either got to rent a house or bring a Caravan or RV. That's the only bad part about this place. Getting in here, accessibility wise, the planes are coming in here; so there's no problem with that. I think it was a good move to come into locations like this. It shows a lot of foresight for the USGA to do that. We can all make the adaption where we can stay for four or five days, but not to turn your back on a golf course like this is extremely important.

Q. Caravan or RV?


Q. Would you expand about what Augusta, how that will help you this week, your performance that in particular?

GREG NORMAN: Well, Augusta helped in lots of ways. The fact I'm working harder on my golf swing since all of last year, leading up to the start of this year. When I think back to some of the shots that I hit at Augusta, I hit a lot more good than I did bad. So when you get back into the situation, when you're coming into this tournament, you think back to those shots, you think back to how you played then, and hopefully, you can take that feeling, momentum and two totally different weeks, but you're trying to take that feeling in. And any positive feeling is better than any negative feeling.

End of FastScripts….

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