March 1, 2000
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you. We appreciate you spending sometime with us this morning.
Maybe just update us on some things that have been going on in your life.
GREG NORMAN: I have to tee off in a while. (Laughs).
LEE PATTERSON: That is right.
GREG NORMAN: Everything has been going very well, thanks, Lee. Been very busy off the
golf course, spent a lot of time down in Australia. Pretty much since I have been home
focusing on practicing and playing and trying to get ready for this tournament and four in
a row which I am playing two weeks after this.
LEE PATTERSON: Perfect. Any questions?
Q. You are doing four --
GREG NORMAN: Starting TPC, I play TPC Bell South, Masters, Heritage.
Q. Bay Hill?
GREG NORMAN: Bay Hill, no.
Q. I know you talked late last year on the Golf Channel about how you are really,
really getting serious about golf again, all that. Just talk a little where you are now in
terms of being able to really commit back to golf and make it a big focus again?
GREG NORMAN: That has been fairly easy. Since that interview I have spent a lot more
time on the golf course just practicing, getting ready. My trip down to Australia trip
where you have to do a lot of business at the same time trying to play golf. I kind of
liked to write that one off. That was the only trip that I was making down there of any
extended period. Right now I have a lot of opportunity of spending plenty of time on the
golf course focusing on what I need. I have hardly been in the office to tell you the
truth - Mike will be able to tell you that - but I think I have been in there, about a
couple of days. If I do go in there I go on the weekends when I get a little quiet spare
time. So I have made that commitment. I maintained that commitment so now just got to try
and produce the results from it.
Q. What do you think about the course and do you think the scores will go down a
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, this golf course is probably in the best condition I have ever seen
it, I think few of the players mentioned that yesterday. No question, it is prime, prime
shape. Everything around Doral depends on the weather. If you get the wind blowing fairly
strong out of the south, south east, that type of direction, this golf course plays very,
very difficult. And that will obviously dictate the scores. The changes that were made out
there which I am sure that is what you are referencing to, I think the changes are
probably getting it back more to the way Doral was. And then talking with Raymond Floyd,
they asked Raymond to toughen Doral up. He did that, no question about it. Now they got it
back to where it is more acceptable to the Doral eye, the way the players feel - I think
right across the board it has been a fairly positive response. Throwing on top of that a
condition, especially South Florida this time of year, we have had great growing season
all winter which has been a huge asset to this far south, and throwing in the great
condition of the golf course and the playability coming back to where we remember it, I
think the guys are speaking very highly of it.
Q. Did you think that when Raymond changed it, it was unfair in some aspects or what
did you think of the redesign?
GREG NORMAN: It looked so different because there was a lot of sand out there. It
didn't have the characteristic look to the eye that we are obviously used to playing.
Raymond did what he needed to do - toughen the golf course up. From the eye standpoint, it
didn't look to me as pleasing as what it is or is now and what it was prior.
Q. Any particular reason why three Australians - Stuart, Steve and you - have done this
well in this state?
GREG NORMAN: I think we are very good wind players, for one. We play in a lot of wind
in Australia; week in, week out, very seldom do we actually have a day like this. It is
normally blowing 15 to 20 knots down there every time we tee it up. Bermuda greens, we
really -- I grew up on fairly course Bermuda greens, so I remember those. And I have a
Bermuda green putting green in the back of my house so I putt on that type of grass all
the time. I think it is just the heat, the palm trees, that type of feel, and probably
more so the wind, we are very, very comfortable in that. When you are comfortable playing
in a lot of wind it is a big advantage.
Q. Did you come to want to live in this state through your experiences in playing
tournaments here; was that a big factor?
GREG NORMAN: Come to live here?
Q. Yeah, your decision to live in Florida, did that have anything to do with the golf
courses here and the success you had?
GREG NORMAN: No, I just wanted to live in Florida because it reminded me so much of
home, the ocean, both sides, the hot weather in the wintertime. I am not a big love of
cold, cold weather day in, day out. And the feel of this is how I grew up in Australia, so
I like this type of atmosphere. I love the humidity. So on top of all that, the golf
courses are very good down here. It was an easy decision for me, but it wasn't just
predicated on because of the golf courses.
Q. What kind of adjustment did you have to make with clubs this year going from the
Cobra to the Titleist?
GREG NORMAN: Very little. Pretty much the Titleist clubs I am using right now,
identical feel, and looking to my old Cobra golf clubs wasn't any difference. The only
difference I had in making adjustment to was the driver. I am still making a few. I
learned yesterday a couple of things about my driver, so it takes you a long period of
time to really get adjusted to a golf club, but that is about it. Everything else has been
pretty much status quo. The golf ball, a little bit of difference with the golf ball. I
found that the golf ball I am using now is probably a little bit more consistent shot
after shot into the wind. That is about it, but distance-wise, not much difference.
Q. What kind of ball?
GREG NORMAN: I use that Professional 90.
Q. Jumping ahead a few weeks, do you have any tradition that you follow in terms of
preparing for Augusta? Do you make a visit there; do anything like that?
GREG NORMAN: I do. Every now then I will go. I may go this year mainly because of the
changes. I heard they made 6 or 7 changes to some of the greens there, so I might go and
take a look at those. If I do that, it will be in that two-week stretch; in the next
couple of weeks just run up there. I always check the weather out and see if it is worth
going up or not. I hadn't been up for the last couple of years, but mainly because of so
many changes, subtle changes to the golf course. I think two days is not going to be
enough to get to see.
Q. Pretty easy to get on the golf course when you want to?
GREG NORMAN: During the tournament you can get on any time.
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, you are kind of an honorary member for that 12-month time period
from the time you -- like if you qualify from last year, you are an honorary member all
the way up there. If you get invited to play, the day you get an invitation, you can go
Q. Can you bring guests?
GREG NORMAN: No. You can't bring guests. They are not that generous. (laughs).
Q. Can you talk about the state of your game right now where you think it is at?
GREG NORMAN: I like the state of my game actually. I feel very relaxed, very
comfortable with it. I don't find that there is any nagging little problems within my
swing. I think the only problems that I am having is probably my concentration and the
focus, but if I just -- I mean, alleviating a lot of other things, just focusing on golf
like I have done for the last couple of weeks, I shouldn't have a problem getting it out
of my system as well.
Q. How long and hard have you practiced? You have said you sort of rededicated yourself
back to golf again...
GREG NORMAN: I am talking five, six hours a day normal stuff that I did. Not the
10-hour day sessions, but five, six-hour sessions - that is a lot.
Q. How many balls would you hit in that session?
GREG NORMAN: Well, if you just stand there and hit balls in that time period, probably
going to be like 600 balls - about 100 balls an hour, you can pretty much get through. I
don't just stand there and pound balls. I chip and putt; break it up a little bit; go hit
some other clubs. It is a segmented practice session - two hours doing this, and two hours
doing that, and two hours maybe on the short game and putting, so I pretty much break it
up. That was the way I used to practice, break it up into segments. I pretty much went
back to my old routine just to get into the flow of it again.
Q. With the momentum behind golf, do you and other top players feel an obligation to
maintain it? Increased tension, the high television ratings last couple of years, the fact
that it has been more popular than it has been --
GREG NORMAN: I think it is one of the few businesses in the world where you get a 20%
growth rate year after year. The popularity of the game has shown that; not just in the
professional corporate level, but also in the growth of social golf and number of rounds
being played. I have said this for 20 years: We are very, very fortunate to be involved
with a game that has that sustaining power and continual growth factor that we have in the
game of golf. I think everybody recognizes and we all do our part to try and maintain it.
No question about that. The popularity of the game is high and I think always has been
high for since the day of the Nelsons and the Sneads and the Hogans all the way up to the
Nicklaus and Palmers into this new generation of players. I think if you go back and just
equate it out, I think the popularity is just on a steady, steady growth rate.
Q. Do you think the younger players appreciate what the Nicklaus and Palmers did to
help the game where it is now?
GREG NORMAN: Yes. Absolutely, no question. If they don't, they better. I think if there
are individuals out there like that, then they are in a very, very small minority. I think
everybody appreciates the evolution of the game; whether it is the amateur ranks with the
Jones of the world, all the way through the professional ranks, up to where we are today.
I think they got to be pretty naive in their heads saying if they don't know what has
taken place to get them where they are right now. I think the most important factor is
that they understand that the responsibility now is their responsibility, maintaining
that, and keeping that going on for the next couple of generations. Because you have
always got to think two generations on; not just one because there is always a process of
a roll-over taking place. You have always got to make sure that you are thinking far
enough down the line to maintain it.
Q. With Match Play going to Australia next year, what do you think about it and there
has been a lot of talk for a year now that a lot of guys might not make the trip?
GREG NORMAN: I personally won't be making the trip because I go down there just the
week -- two weeks earlier. Then I am coming home for Christmas. Then I got to turn around,
go all the way back two days after Christmas. Then I got to come home back here; then go
all the way back again two weeks later. I don't think I am going to be a yo-yo going
across the Pacific that much.
Q. You won't alter your schedule to be there for that?
GREG NORMAN: I couldn't. I couldn't because I have so many other commitments that I
have already set in stone many years ahead and to have this thrown in right over New
Year's Eve and New Year because I have to go back in the middle -- I always go back there
around the middle of January. So if I go down there and stay -- start of the Andersen and
stay, then I am going to be in Australia for five, six weeks. I don't want to do that. I
have been a believer never being away more than two, three weeks maximum away from the
family, and I am not going to change that. So it is a very awkward period of time.
Q. You think they made a mistake by putting it there?
GREG NORMAN: That time of year I think it is because Australia is an extremely long way
to go. I have done it enough for 20 odd years; I know what it takes out of you, and to get
all the way down there and get knocked out in the first round is another thing. If it was
a 72 stroke-play event, maybe a different story because you can hang around there for
five, six days. You have got to leave -- if you want to get there on a Tuesday, you got to
leave on a Sunday. So you lose a day going down there, so no matter what your time
schedule is to get in, you have got to leave a day earlier. So that extra day makes the
week an 8-day week instead of 7- or 6-day week. So it just backs up your schedule closer
and closer to Christmas and New Years, so you really don't get a whole lot of time off.
Q. Given the format as you say you could go down there lose in one round, is it a
mistake to go to Australia at any time for Match Play no matter when you
GREG NORMAN: Well, it is a long way to go. It is a player's decision. I am just talking
about myself. I am not going to make that trip for that reason. Not specifically for that
but for other reasons as well. And the other -- don't forget the tournament starts on a
Wednesday, too, so to get -- these guys never have seen Metropolitan Golf Club, I would
say a high majority of the 64 players playing it, so maybe 55 haven't seen it so to get
two good rounds under your belt, you have got to get there Monday. To get there Monday,
you have got to leave Saturday; maybe even Friday night from the East Coast so you have
got to leave a long way early to get in there. What is the date of the tournaments?
LEE PATTERSON: 3 through 7.
GREG NORMAN: So you are talking about leaving --
GREG NORMAN: 28th of December, three days after Christmas. That is a big ask. I think
it is a big ask.
Q. That would send a fairly powerful message, I would think, for those who are debating
whether they should go and feel like they should, if the key Australians are
not-even-going type thing.
GREG NORMAN: I have done it enough to know what takes place; yet if you are only doing
it one time, you might just bite the bullet and say: I am going to go down there; get in
Monday, Monday night - I think there is a flight that gets late in the afternoons now -
but I am not too sure you get in Monday night one practice round, boom, you go, and that
-- it can be extremely hot down there that time and coming out of the cool United States,
no matter where you live, got to land down there -- we played in 124 degrees there just
recently, so when you are coming out of something cold to really hot, you are going to get
-- I am just laying the cards on the table and let these guys know exactly what they are
Q. How many hour flight?
GREG NORMAN: From the East Coast it will take you 25, 24 hours elapsed time is about
Q. In a private jet or commercial?
GREG NORMAN: That is commercial. They have got a good flight now Quantas out of New
York, L.A., Sydney, so you only got one stop out of New York to Sydney; then you got to
get down to Melbourne. I think the earliest you can get into Melbourne would be about 10
or 11 o'clock, mid-morning or whatever morning you arrive. You know, Lee, you went down
there for Presidents Cup. If you want to arrive Tuesday, you land -- you got to get to the
golf course at 12; tee it up on Wednesday, so anyway -- they will probably -- they will
get a good field. Got enough money down there so guys will go.
Q. You just talked me out of it.
GREG NORMAN: (laughs).
LEE PATTERSON: Anything else for Mr. Norman? Thank you.
GREG NORMAN: Thank you.
End of FastScripts