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August 2, 2000

Greg Norman


LEE PATTERSON: Greg, thank you so much for joining us. 1989 Champion of the Year. 11th appearance at The INTERNATIONAL. Just a couple thoughts on what you saw yesterday while practicing and then we will open it up for.

GREG NORMAN: What I saw was a lot of smoke. I couldn't see the mountains. Outside of that, the golf course is as usual, in it's immaculate glory. New greens, I think far superior than the old ones. That's a great move from here to remove some of the poa. They're a little bit firmer and quicker. From a player's perspective, you have to be careful how you appreciate your second shots. Especially on the par 5s. All in all, the golf course plays the same every year. Nothing different about it. The golf course sets up the same and you know you'll make a bunch of birdies.

LEE PATTERSON: Were you making a bunch yesterday.

GREG NORMAN: I don't know about that. I was happy to be able to walk 18 holes.

Q. Give us an update of your progress since the surgery; what you've done, how it's progressed.

GREG NORMAN: Obviously it's progressed very, very well, or I wouldn't have been here two weeks ahead of schedule. Doctors felt I was a very quick healer. I was pretty much the same way with my shoulder. A lot of that has to do with the intensity I put back into my rehab. I go at it fairly aggressively, and the doctors like that, because the quicker you break down your scar tissue, and redevelop your muscles before atrophy really sets in, the quicker you recover. I came off crutches probably five to six days before I should have done. I had to use them to go up and down stairs, but everywhere else, I tried to walk.

Q. How long were you on crutches?

GREG NORMAN: Three to four days. I had to wear a brace for a while. I got rid of that quickly because I couldn't sleep with that. The reason I had to wear a brace, they didn't want my hip to roll on the outside while I was sleeping - your leg to roll over. They wanted to keep your leg in a very straight position from the hip down to the knee down to the foot. I hated that. I couldn't sleep very well, so I ditched that very early. But pretty much focusing on rehab every day, twice a day. I did a lot of swimming, a lot of pool work, walk in the pool, treading in the pool. Bike work, stationary bike. Very little actual weight work on the hip because you couldn't put a lot of weight bearing pressure on it. Outside of that, it was more passive motion. My trainer was always moving the hip, working the hip, trying to get flexibility back in there. We decided about five days, four weeks last Wednesday was my surgery, or five weeks today was my surgery, and we decided then it might be time to go and hit a few balls. I went out and it felt great. It really did. I had to learn -- the interesting thing about the surgery, I had to learn how to rewalk properly again. Because of the way -- because of the tear of my ligaments the labrum, my hip wouldn't flex properly. I'd have to walk differently.

Q. You were favoring it before?

GREG NORMAN: I wasn't favoring it. My hip would go -- I walk deep, my stride's deep and I walk deep in my back stride. My hip flexor does a lot of work. When I had the hip locked up, or out of place, I walked differently. For six or seven years, I was walking incorrectly. I had to learn over the last three weeks, four weeks to walk properly. And that's not the easiest thing in the world to do. Because you have to be conscious of where your foot lands and how your foot lands and make sure it lands in a straight position instead of falling on the outside and rolling.

Q. You got to think about it while you're walking?

GREG NORMAN: I had to. Now I don't do it as much as what I did three, four weeks ago. But as soon as I got out of the hospital, it felt totally different. With my golf swing, yesterday I played 18 holes for the first time - walked 18 holes and first time in seven, eight years, close to ten years I played 18 holes without pain; which is a blessing in disguise. I woke up the day after surgery; I said to my wife: I have no pain anymore. It's gone. That was a revelation in itself. So right now it's going -- from the golf swing standpoint, I've got to trust, where I can actually rotate my hip, instead of sliding when I had -- the hip got locked up, now I can rotate and turn into my right knee and load up my right a little better. So I've got to teach those muscles new tricks.

Q. You flinch a bit?

GREG NORMAN: I would flinch, like getting out of this chair, subconsciously before if I'd sit in this position in a fully flexed position; my hip would get out of -- the joint locked out. Lots of time you guys wouldn't notice but I'd get out and walk through the pain to get going and work its way out. Lining up putts, yesterday, I flinched getting up from the squat position and it didn't hurt. Just a subconscious -- I got to retrain -- the pain is gone and to trust the hip again and go at it.

Q. Was there a specific point during the U.S. Open where you said: "That's it, I'm going to get it done"?

GREG NORMAN: It was right after the delay, when we were standing on the 8th hole for about an hour and a half, I knew then I was in big trouble, because I couldn't get my hip stretched out and just standing around is the worst thing I could do for it. We got back in the car and I twisted my -- my spikes were caught in the car. That twisted it, I was done. No way I can do anything about it. We came back the next day no break in between. Straight off the golf course, 30 minutes, couldn't see Pete, my trainer, to relieve the pressure. I knew I was history that day I was lucky to break 90. I should have walked then. But that was it. Pete and I got in the plane that night and said we got to do something about this and I made my decision immediately when I saw a couple doctors.

Q. You kept this close to your chest. Do you not like to talk about it?

GREG NORMAN: You never know -- my body's my body. I always felt to keep it within myself. You know, some people would interpret a bad round or a bad tournament to poor play or -- I'm not dedicated or I've read a couple articles saying I lost interest in the game, stuff like that. Nobody knows what really goes on unless somebody asked me the poignant question: Is there a problem with your body. But nobody asked me the poignant question so no point to raise the subject.

Q. The workout schedule or routine you had before this - I know you're very fit and always have been - also over the years, I've seen many different versions of what you planned to do with the rest of your golf. At one point you said you couldn't see yourself playing the way Jack has, and then maybe you're finished. Now all of a sudden it sounds like you want to continue to play. Go over your plans with the next five, ten years?

GREG NORMAN: Basically from a workout schedule, it hasn't really changed. I do pretty much the same as what I did prior to the surgery except the pool work. I did a lot more swimming. And swimming, they tie my legs together because they didn't want any kick of the hip. Lap after lap after lap of the upper body just developing your abs' strength and lower back strength; that's where you didn't want atrophy to set in. That's about the only thing different that I did was not normally on my workout routine. Schedule-wise, obviously, it's all changed. And changed probably for the good because now I feel-- the way I feel and the doctor says that, you know, for the next ten years I'm going to be okay. My biggest problem was my ball in my socket was too big, it was just a birth defect in my right hip. And the motion of the golf swing for down the labrum. With that gone, next ten years if I wanted to hit balls and practice the way I practiced, he said: Go right ahead. When you go back and play golf without all the other things in the back of your head, can't load up my hip, I can't hit it as far; not as accurate because I slide off the ball; all those things have changed. My approach. I feel I can practice better now because I'm not worried about hitting five, six balls and have to stop 20 minutes because of the pain and go back and hit 20 balls. Now you can get in a routine of a normal practice. That led me to coming here. That leads me to play more golf, and in a way, I don't want to overload my schedule because there's a lot of things I've obviously been doing since all this. So my enthusiasm for the game is still strong. I still would like to play. I still would like to compete. I'm 45 but 45 is a number. I feel like I'm a 30-year-old, 35-year-old. So I feel like I've got the ability to do it. How long will that take? How long is a piece of string?

Q. In Augusta you talked about people beaten by Tiger before they start. Somebody needs to stand up to them. Recently you say: Might as well be me. Is that the way you're looking at it now?

GREG NORMAN: I have a bit of a different philosophy when I approach the game. I play the game for myself. And think that's the way to do it. If I ever went out to play the game and felt like I was intimidated by somebody, you've already defeated yourself and defeated the purpose of why you're there. We're all individual athletes and certainly the strength of your mind is how strong you're going to be out there. I feel that I've got a fairly strong mind, and I would like to be out there to compete. I'd like to go -- go up against guys that are obviously fitter, sharper, younger, stronger. That would make me fitter, sharper, younger stronger. Raymond Floyd said something very meaningful probably about six or seven or eight years ago when I was really playing well, and just in contention all the time he said: Greg, you raised the bar for everybody. And that was that's exactly what I see now with Tiger. Everybody says he's raised the bar. That's great. But raise the bar and try to get above it because Raymond said he always did that. He always wanted to get more. If I got a certain amount of appearance money or a certain amount of money for a contractual deal he used that if he gets it, then I'm going to get more. Use all that enthusiasm and all the energy that comes with it to benefit you. Nobody's unbeatable in this world of sport. That, you know, you're going to get your guys that come out and play great and are strong and are more confident in their head. If you feed them confidence, you're going to get more confidence. That's why -- you know, not saying Tiger -- Tiger has got the ability now to feed off everything. He feeds off himself and plays really great and he's a great putter and everybody else says he's going to play this and I got to play this to be anywhere near competitive with him. I just don't like to hear that in sport. Sport needs a rivalry, and right now there isn't one in the game of golf. I think that could be bad for the game of golf eventually, because ever since I've played the game, there's been wonderful rivalry, going back decades prior to me, right up to the times I used to compete with Faldo and Seve and the Nick Prices of the world. And Ernie Els came on, he was a young guy -- rivalry's great for the sport. I want to see somebody step up to the plate and create rivalry -- not just for Tiger, he needs it too. I'd hate to see Tiger get bored with the game. He's great with the game. Not saying he would. If you go out and win by 15, 8, and 6 shots all the time, sometimes a sense of complacency could draw in there. Unless you have somebody really -- or two guys, three guys -- I played with a young kid yesterday, Adam Scott, that just blew my mind away. I hadn't played with him before. He launches it as far as Tiger and hits as straight as Tiger and putts as good as Tiger. But it depends on what's right in here. (Pointing to the heart.) Do you want to get into the eye of the Tiger and go after it? We need to see young kids 18 -, 19 -, 20-year-olds to come out there with free spirit in the game of golf and go at it.

Q. Having said that, as a follow-up, there's a number of young players in the field this week between Howell and Gossett and Adam. What are some of the differences you see between these young players coming out now and some of the young players coming out in your day?

GREG NORMAN: Huge difference. I wish I was 20 years younger, because I tell you -- the whole philosophy of the game of golf is different nowadays. These kids are fitter. They've got better coaching techniques. The coaches are better because of computer moduling and all the technical aspects of the game of golf you can study and incorporate in your workout schedule, your sports psychologist, your coach, and your own belief in yourself all in one. When I grew up, it was you going out there. We didn't have a health program. If you wanted to work out, fine, you worked out. Even your coaches, we had those big huge video cameras no coach wanted to hang onto for a long period of time. When you put it on pause, it looked like such a blur, you couldn't see your club or what plane you were on. Nowadays, you can do it frame by frame, you can split it, you can put it on your lap-top computer, study the way you were swinging today to the way you did yesterday. It's constant improvement. That's why the kids are so much better -- not physically big, strong guys. Tiger is not. Adam Scott's not. Charles Howell doesn't seem like he's overly like a big Ernie Els. But their way of incorporating ability to swing a golf club with speed with their body rotation comes from youth and comes from all those other things that I mentioned. And I think the game of golf is only going to get better. The scores are only going to come down, because these kids are going to get better and better and longer and longer and stronger and more confident. That's why I wish -- we could all wish we were back 20, 30 years ago. That's the only difference I see now than when I was 21 years old.

Q. On that type of thinking, are the young kids more into distance than into shot-making or target?


Q. Hit it as hard as they can?

GREG NORMAN: They have learned how to hit it a long way and shape it. They're doing this all day long. A 120-yard sand wedge shot. They're hitting low sliders and high hooks. They're playing shots. They know and understand the art of golf and the execution of the golf shot. That's why, no matter where you put a pin, these guys are good enough to get it with their power because they're shaping it to get in there. When I grew up, it was learning to hit as hard as you can and figure out how to hit it straight. Had nothing do with shaping the shot. Launching it and hit it hard. Now these guys hit it hard and know exactly where the ball's going to go. Their control of distance is another huge asset, and that again is coaching technique. That's playing the golf club and knowing your body speed and rotation. These guys definitely have a huge advantage, and I'm happy for them. It's great for the game of golf.

Q. Your surgery was five weeks ago today?

GREG NORMAN: Five weeks ago. Today's Wednesday? Five weeks ago today, yeah.

Q. Any thoughts about coming to this course, which isn't exactly the flattest and most easy course to walk?

GREG NORMAN: We did discuss that. I was on the phone this morning with my trainer. He was on the phone with my surgeon. They wanted to know the outcome of yesterday's 18 holes. I told them my legs were a little tired, but that's more from atrophy. Like I said, I haven't been able to do weight training on my lower body as much as I'd like to. But that was more from fatigue in my feet and from my muscles. They said today would be a big test and how you wake up tomorrow morning. One day isn't going to show it. Two to three days will definitely show it. I look forward to today. I don't anticipate any pain in my joint from surgery. I anticipate stiffness from my muscles from not having gone up and down this golf course. We did discuss this golf course to see if I could make it around here, I could make Valhalla very easily.

Q. What are your expectations this week?

GREG NORMAN: My expectations as a player are always high. Whether that's right or wrong, I don't know. I go out there with a little more low-keyed attitude and approach. I think it's more of a building and process I need to go through. Learning how to walk and learning how to rotate in my hip properly again. All those things I'm conscious of which should be subconscious. I think it's just -- a low-keyed -- if it works out, great. If it doesn't, I've got a great week under my belt. I've been able to walk 18 holes on a very hilly golf course and take a week off before Valhalla, know what the weakness is before I get there that I have to work on. I'm starting to feel much more confident within myself because I know where I'm heading is the right direction. I haven't felt this way for a long time.

Q. When Tiger was younger, when he was 15, 16, you got a chance to -- you were the first guy he really got to play a lot with. What do you remember from back then about his game and the things you noticed around him? Did you ever think that he would take it to the level he's taken it to?

GREG NORMAN: My first impression with Tiger is the total control of himself. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and how to do it. He was very relaxed with the direction he was taking. His playability was okay. It wasn't great, but from a 15-year-old standpoint, he was long, but he wasn't really long. His body had to grow. His muscle had to develop. His head had to change. But I can still see, from the time I played with him in South Florida to the way he is right now, he's the same guy. He's got the exact same emphasis in his mind of what he wants to do. He's taken that and taken charge of that beautifully. There's a few things I admire about Tiger, that's one of them. He's been single-focused in the direction he wants to or where he wants to end up. And only time is going to tell you that. But he's been, for a young guy of his age, he seems like he's got a lot more years of experience in his head than most other guys.

Q. When you came back in '98 from the shoulder surgery, you were talking about the delicate zone for you of a hundred yards and in. You mentioned it a moment ago. What do you feel is going to be the main part of your game to work on the next few weeks? Does having the PGA and Presidents Cup down the line help you get jump-started here with motivation?

GREG NORMAN: Motivation has nothing do to with PGA or Presidents Cup. The motivation is that I feel I can swing the golf club again without any discomfort. Obviously in doing that, I have to retrain all my shots, not just my bunker shots or chip shots, but everything. I noticed the other day when I started chipping at home, I was -- there was a lack of a little mini-hip rotation with my chip. Because obviously, prior to surgery, I didn't trust it. So I became very handsy with my chips. Now all of a sudden I feel my chipping is coming back very quickly, because you need a mini golf swing in your chip. Those are the things I noticed. It's going to take a period of time -- 6 months, probably till Christmas, to feel sharp, sharp, sharp again. At least I know I can feel sharp again. With regard to the PGA, obviously I was gearing to get ready for that. I missed the British Open. I didn't want to miss both. I wanted to play the PGA Championship, And of course of the Presidents Cup. I love to be on the Presidents Cup team. I don't know my position now, or if I'm actually going to be on the team. If I'm not, I'm not. But I'd like to be on it, because I feel from this point on my game is getting better and better and I'll be an asset to the team. You think about those things and target those things, but not a specific thing I'm going to do -- the PGA and get ready for the Presidents Cup. I want to basically get ready for playing golf again. I think that's the thing that excites me the most.

Q. Related to that, how much just basic rust is there on your game?

GREG NORMAN: Well, like I say, there's no rust because it's a new game. I mean, it's new because, like I touched on, the rotation of your hip, if you could feel my body now to what it was prior to the U.S. Open, you'd know exactly how I feel. I mean it feels different. My quality of life is so much better. I don't have to stand up to eat my breakfast in the morning, things like that. Because I couldn't squat down from getting out of bed and walk and hurting. I always ate standing up. Because that was the least amount of pain. Quality of life like that, is a huge, huge change. Just sitting like this is a huge change. I could never sit like this before. So from the game of golf, I mean, it makes me feel good to be able to do the things -- I'm very confident I will be able to do them to the level to make me myself be a competitor in the game of golf again.

Q. You said it's been a week since you've started hitting balls?

GREG NORMAN: A week ago Wednesday, yeah. So basically there could be rust on my game, but with a fresh approach and a fresh head, I'm eliminating rust.

Q. How many years was the hip bothering you for?

GREG NORMAN: Well, according to the size of the tear, which is about the length of my finger, they estimate about seven, eight years it was in there. So the shoulder came from the hip, and my back came from my hip. So it's all tied together. Because I made changes in my swing, I became lateral. And to make a turn, I had to push back and get depth for my shoulder, that tore all my muscles and ligaments in my shoulder socket. Obviously with that motion, I got tilty, so my back got out. It all started from right here.

Q. How many years have you been feeling it?

GREG NORMAN: Pete remembers me complaining about it seven or eight years ago. Seven years ago. Was it -- did I have it before that? Probably. But I probably thought it was a football injury or part of golf 's aches and pains. I'm in the mid-thirties and that's part of it. But we can definitely -- Pete keeps a detailed record of all that's happened with me. So it will be an interesting book one day. (Laughter.)

Q. During your injury, didn't you feel like you wanted to request a golf cart?

GREG NORMAN: Oh, yeah. Pete said that maybe I should call up Finchem and ask for a Casey Martin golf cart. Can I get one of those, Lee?


GREG NORMAN: Call the offices. 1-800 ...

(Laughter.) No. We talked about it in jest. But I think I'll be able to make it.

LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, Greg. We appreciate it.

End of FastScripts....

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