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July 15, 2003

Greg Norman


STEWART McDOUGALL: Welcome to Greg Norman. It's ten years since you won the Open. How are things going for you this year?

GREG NORMAN: It all depends on what you're talking about. I haven't played a lot of golf this year. I think this will be my third golf tournament. Some of that's my doing, some of it's not, because I've had a bit of a back injury for the last three to four months. But outside of that, the ten years since we were here last time sitting here in the pressroom Sunday night, I haven't thought about it, since January has been a prelude for warming up to the tournament. A lot of questions asked, and the memory banks start getting refreshed on a regular basis. When I look back on the tournament, it was obviously one of the greatest tournaments I've played in, irrespective of whether I won the tournament or not.

I've said this every interview I've had, I've never played in a golf tournament that had as many great players in the world in contention. There were like 11 or 12 or 13 guys, within 4 or 5 shots going into Sunday. And they were the top players in the world. It turned out to be a 18 hole -- 18 par Faldo-type round would never work on Sunday afternoon of the Open. I needed to go low that day, and fortunately I did.

Q. How has the back injury been?

GREG NORMAN: Well, since TPC -- well, actually since Australia, I really started playing up, in the tournament down there, in February, and ever since then I haven't really been -- it's only been of late that I've felt probably 80, 85 percent where I was last year. So it's been frustrating. It's unfortunate wear and tear. About four million golf balls has created the problem, and that's about it. Not much I can do about it, except make sure I don't overstress it, don't over do it and try and practice as much as I can, but not practice too much.

Q. Is there something about this course and this event which makes the cream rise to the top, and can we hope to see the same sort of thing on Sunday this year?

GREG NORMAN: I would say this golf course does blend into that, because it's a shotmaker's golf course. Believe it or not, this is not one of my favorite British Open rotation golf courses, but at the same time it's probably one of the best British Open golf courses, because it is a shotmaker's golf course. Every tee shot is basically -- my definition of this golf course is a quirky golf course. I call it quirky, because there's so many different nuances about how you can approach the game around here. You can play it aggressive if you want to or play it as conservative as you like. And the way the golf course now is very similar as it was Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of '93, when the golf course played extremely hard and fast. I think those conditions make this golf course the hardest, because the fairways have got so many lumps and hollows, and some fairways -- like the first fairway, if the fairway conditions stay like this, 20 percent of the field will only be able to keep it on the fairway. You can really play snooker on some parts of the fairway. They're firm and fast, and the ball rolls off the knobs and knolls, not taking into consideration the bounce you get.

You're in a bit of a thought process every time you walk on the tee; how am I going to play this golf course, how am I going to play this shot. Some of the shots are semi blind, some shots you have to trust the distance how far you want to hit it through the air, but then you have to calculate a 60-yard run, and hopefully that run is going to be straight. That's why I call it quirky. Some of the greens are situated, some are low, some are high. Some are exposed, where the greens are very, very firm and very fast, and some are receptive, where you can spin the ball back with a pitch shot. You have to get to know the golf course early on in the week, and if the conditions stay the same, you get a good feel about the golf course. It's a tough golf course to play mentally.

Q. It sounds like past experience is probably as important here as anywhere?

GREG NORMAN: Past experience, yes, knowing the wind conditions. When we played yesterday, and probably today, we didn't have this wind at all in '93. We had the southwest wind, and it was a little cooler and a little heavier. So it's going to be -- yes, and knowing what to expect when the wind blows from a certain direction, but knowing the golf course is probably -- whether you played here in a tournament or not, is just knowing the golf course.

Q. First time players get to know the golf course adequately offer three practice rounds?

GREG NORMAN: I don't think so, because the weather is going to change, come tomorrow, from what I understand. You'll get to know it like Monday, Tuesday, and this northeast wind, is what it is, northeast wind, and then all of a sudden the wind is going to change and now all of a sudden instead of hitting it 260 yards off the tee into the wind, you're hitting it 350 yards off the tee downwind. That's a huge difference to try to understand 80 yards on each hole. And those lines are dramatically different. I just experienced that from Sunday of last year to yesterday playing in a different wind. So it's going to be tough. If the weather conditions stay the same, no problem. If the weather conditions change, like they're predicting tomorrow afternoon, it's going to be a totally different golf course Thursday morning.

Q. Given your back injuries or back problems, how many tournaments a year realistically do you think you can play until you turn senior?

GREG NORMAN: I've always believed I can play about 12 tournaments, that would be a perfect number for me, 12, 15, my total worldwide schedule. Did you mention senior? (Laughter.) Senior schedule, I won't be playing anywhere near that much. Maybe six would be a lot of tournaments for me when I turn 50. That's just on the regular U.S. tour, not other tournaments around the world. I see that probably going like 10, like I said.

Q. What's a week in the life of Greg Norman without playing golf? What do you do?

GREG NORMAN: Oh, I have a lot of other interests that keep me definitely piqued. My development and design business is going very well. My clothing business is doing very, very well. I don't have any problem filling up 25 hours in a day. So it's been good for me. I've always been a believer, since 1993, to establish yourself in such a way where the day might come along where I have a back injury or you don't want to play golf anymore.

Fortunately, for me, I'm in that position where I actually can walk away from the game and be very, very happy. I wouldn't be happy mentally, because I still love to play. But I could walk away from the game and keep myself happy by doing other things and keeping my future the way I want to keep it.

Q. Greg, when you're with other people the same age as you, do you all have bad backs? How did Gary Player escape?

GREG NORMAN: It's all to exercise. I wish I started my workout program ten years before I did. I started in about '92, is when my program really started getting geared up, '91, '92 it was. Gary, from what I understand, started very early on in his career, and I think that has a lot to do with it. I think in my generation of golf, there was a bit of misnomer to working out. Because I remember Johnny Miller, when I was a kid growing up, he went out and worked out, and chopped wood with an ax, and built up those muscles, and all of a sudden his game changed. But I think what's happened in this modern generation, we've all learned how to work out the right muscle groups for the game of golf. There was never any true physical training or physical therapy work for golfers dedicated purely for golf. You see it in swimming. You see it in athletics. You see it in all other sports.

The modern generation of golf is where they've been able to focus in on that and target that. I think the future generations of golf, the kids, the Charlie Howells and the Tiger Woods, that generation will probably have the biggest advantage of the lot. They will have experience not only from what we do at UPMC Medical Center in Pittsburgh, where we're studying what's happening with the body, and how it breaks down. I'm a guinea pig, because I've had hip and shoulder surgery and now back. We're trying to understand why a peak performer in golf breaks down, considering I have been working out the past 12 years. It's your physical motion in the golf swing. And what we're trying to do is get enough database together where we can actually teach the teachers, and kids of a young age. If you get the kids to rotate this way, we know over a period of time, when he gets 45, 55, he's not going to have the stress or the back pain or the shoulder pain. And it's actually becoming a fairly consistent piece of data, where you can see the repetition the same way.

When we grew up the reverse C was the big thing, the Jack Nicklauses, Tom Kites, I had it, and obviously that was not the way to swing the golf club. The teachers nowadays, not through just the knowledge of what happens to the body, but they've done it through technique of the swing, but that's also helped with the body, by standing more vertical on it. And even Gary Player had the reverse C, he probably has a little more flexibility in his body through his working out to allow his joints to take the pressure. And Gary didn't hit it as hard as what I hit it or Jack Nicklaus hit it. Jack has problems with his back. And his hips.

So there's a lot of consistency in the information we're getting with the type of players that experience the problems that I've had or other past players have had with back injuries. So it's just filling out the database the best we can, and educating us all. I can't ever improve. But I can stay status quo. But my body can never, ever get any better than what it is, unless I have to go have surgery, and I don't want to do that.

Q. You're not going to have -- presumably if you're not doing anything, it's okay, isn't it?

GREG NORMAN: Actually, that's the worst part. When I relax -- like, for example, if I sleep in a bad bed, I can wake up in the morning with a spasm. When your body goes into a relaxed state is where I get slippage. I have instability in L5/S1. It only has to have slight movement that impedes the nerve, and I'm shut down. All three episodes have come from not playing golf, but have been off the golf course.

Australia was when I was sitting down in a golf cart when I was doing an outing. I just sat down at the wrong angle and I jarred my back, and that was it. I was out of action for four or five weeks. And TPC was a bad bed. I woke up on a Wednesday morning and that was it, I couldn't play. It takes me about two weeks to get myself back in a position where I can even do anything. So the game of golf actually, because I'm keeping my body tight, my muscles are working, it actually keeps the spine stable.

Q. When you look at the broad sweep of young players of today, from Tiger downwards, what is the one thing that strikes you about them? And can I ask you a second question, too? Is there anything that you think those players of today miss that were so enjoyable for you so many years ago?

GREG NORMAN: Well, I think I can answer the two questions in one. I think the broad sweep is they all seem like they're pretty much the same. There's a lot of consistency. And that comes because of the ability to work with a physical trainer, sports psychologist, a nutritionalist. You don't see a Craig Stadler out there too many times anymore. And Craig Stadler had the charisma. Now I think most of the younger players seem like they're very stoic in their approach. I've seen Tiger change a little bit over time. Is that keeping an eye on himself, so he doesn't do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, and make a wrong move? Probably so. Outside of him, I think it's the sheer fact that -- it's a pure business nowadays, and to get the best out of business is to create the individual the best way you can. And that's why they've all been taught certain ways.

You don't see -- the Seves, or myself when I was younger, had a bit of flare. I wore my heart on my sleeve. Seve was a great guy to watch golf, because you didn't know what the heck was going to happen when you turned around. So you've seen the changes going over a period of time, and I think it will continue on from here. That's why when you see a Sergio Garcia come out in that group of players, and he's got a bit of flare, and he wants to take a -- who said white men couldn't jump, after what he did over in the United States. It was a very -- that's refreshing. People like to see that. I don't care whether he's from Spain, Australia, Japan. Everywhere around the world, people like to watch those type of golfers play.

Q. Is there anything that you think they're missing?

GREG NORMAN: I think that was part of the question. I think -- in my mind, I think they could show a little more character. When you talk to the guys off the golf course, and when you play a practice round with them, they've got it in them. But when they walk on the first tee, this is the way it's going to be. And if it works for them, that's great. But at the same time, the game of golf is kind of like slowed down a little bit. Is that because of the industry or is that because people aren't interested in watching golf? I really haven't got the answer to that. But if somebody comes out with a bit of a flare and a bit of character about them, a bit of charisma, and can play on top of that, he's the next guy everybody is going to put their saddle on.

Q. Is there a concern for the sport if there aren't a certain percentage of character?

GREG NORMAN: I don't think there's a concern for the sport. I think the concern that I see is the fact that the industry is a little bit flat right now. Why is the industry flat? It's not because of the players out there don't have charisma or anything like that. I think the industry is flat for other reasons. We are not bringing the players to the game of golf, and that's not just because of the professional golfers, that's because of the industry as a whole.

The industry as a whole needs to change. I'm talking about the manufacturing side of things, everything in general. From the USGA, to R&A, to everybody involved in golf, to everybody sitting in the room here. We have to some way stimulate getting more people back playing the game of golf, because it has been flat. I don't think it's got anything to do with the players. The ratings go up every time Tiger plays. And the ratings stay pretty much the same whenever he doesn't play. I think we need to find some way to try to get the game moving again.

Q. Can you give me a resume of your fleet of aircraft and cars and boats you have?

GREG NORMAN: No, I don't need to go into that. No, all my things that I have I use for business. They're business tools. If I didn't have some of the things I have, I couldn't do the things I do on a regular basis. Give you an example. I can go to three different cities in one day doing golf course design work. I can't do that flying commercial. So I get my work done very, very quickly, very precisely and move on.

I built a golf course in Barcelona. I fly all the way over to Barcelona, leave at 10 o'clock at night, get in 8:00 o'clock in the morning, work all day, my flight crew rests, I leave that afternoon, and I'm home that night. I couldn't do that flying commercial. Those are the things that -- fortunately, for me, I have a great business and I have the tools that allow me to finish off the business to the level I need to. And people like that, because if you can come over there and fly halfway around the world and do 6 hours, 8 hours for work, and go home for dinner, I think that's pretty good.

Q. Very few of the top players are over 40. And now it seems like seven or eight players in the top-20 are over 40 and pushing 50 and seem to be playing a lot of tournaments. Why do you think this generation seems to be playing so much better now and more effectively?

GREG NORMAN: I think that's a combination of a couple of things. It's fitness, No. 1, it's a suction effect. Everybody starts doing it and recognizing, and follows along. I think technology has helped. The golf ball is going further, through a balance of everything, not just the golf ball, but a combination of three or four things that add to that. The older players have been able to capture that. You see their driving stats go up. Kenny Perry is a prime example. His driving statistics are going up tremendously.

So when you get that shot in the arm of adrenalin through technology and stimulation from other players, and obviously prize money is up there, so the guys who you thought might be sitting in a bit of a void of a window in time with their age, it's not the case anymore, which is great. I think there was concern a few years ago. What happened to the guys that were 45 or 50, before they go on Senior Tour? Hey, you can play now until you're 50, and walk right on the Senior Tour and not miss a beat, from the sound of things.

Q. Getting back to the notion of the flatness of the game. You've built golf courses in America and elsewhere that have tried to encourage players to use flare, maybe a bit of the Australian or British model over there. Part of the reason in North America the game is flat, younger players aren't getting the pleasure of the game of hitting the different shots and they're all in carts, hitting the ball in the air and over water. Obviously that's my view, and I'm curious what you think about it.

GREG NORMAN: I think the game has changed, that's why I'd love to be able to sit here in the locker room about four hours and listen to what the players said after the first day they played here. Maybe 20 percent of the guys will hit this first fairway. But they'll all hit the middle of the fairway, but it won't stay on. All of a sudden it's a different game. It's not where you hit it and it lands and it's going to stay. That's the quirkiness of this golf course. I'd like to see more of that take place around the world.

In the United States it's always been a love affair with deep, dark green grass, and lush, soft grass. You're never going to get these conditions over there, and if you do get them the golf courses aren't designed for these type of conditions. At least here you can work your way around them in some way, shape or form. And you don't have the rough so thick that you can't move it out. You can move it forward, chase it forward 50, 100, 200 yards if you're really strong, but over there you can't do it. So it's a totally different dynamic of a game. I would like to see more of that over there in the United States. But the developers and the members of golf clubs don't want to see that. They don't want to see the brown look.

Actually, Seminole Golf Club is the first time this year I played in a long time that had actually gone brown. Seminole had -- because it's a private golf club, and their idea is let's make this golf course hard and fast. So it was good to see that take place there. But I don't see it across the board that happening in America, because you don't get conditions like this. You don't have the turf like this, you don't have the grass like this, you don't have the terrain like this. It's hard to manufacture something like this. If I built a golf course like this in the United States, I'd be the laughing stock, with all these undulations and lumps and hollows. The atmosphere around here and the type of golf course and the conditions just allow you to do this, like down in Australia, same type of terrain. So you're allowed to do that, because you can do it. But I would like to see that, no question. I'd like to see more character come back into the game of golf across the board.

Q. You got the back injection, you've had a couple of weeks to practice, how much game have you got? What kind of expectations do you have this week? What's the state of your game?

GREG NORMAN: My game is fairly good. It's not -- obviously it's not where I'd like it to be. Three tournaments -- this will be my third tournament. My expectations, you know, if I get off to a solid, decent two round start, then hopefully things will start to kick in and it will generate a little momentum. I've got to be careful not to force the momentum, getting on the first tee on Thursday and forcing the momentum. My expectations are not high, because I have not played a lot of golf. But I'd like to think that I can get out there and perform well and absolutely, because I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I could. And, yeah, I did have injections right after Westchester, and I had two more injections the day before I left to come over here.

Q. Because you haven't played much tournament golf, do you relish the opportunity more and feel more excitement when the opportunity does come like this week or would you prefer if you were playing more regularly?

GREG NORMAN: I think my excitement level would still be the same, whether I played zero tournaments or ten leading up to this event. Coming here is special in its own right. Coming here, because you're in the Open, which I think is the greatest championship of them all, because it's the Open. And it's open to a lot of people all over the world. It's not an invitational event. And I think that's -- and it's been around a heck of a long time, too. I get excited -- I so much looked forward to walking on that tee about 3:00 yesterday. I wanted to do that because I wanted to be on my own, walk around with Tony, and a few of my friends were with me, experience it again without having to talk about it all the way around with a bunch of other golfers. I wanted to walk around and savor that feeling again. I was excited about doing that. Today I'm excited about getting out with the guys and playing, because now today is more of a focus day than what yesterday was. Yesterday I wanted to look at the changes, some I liked, some I didn't like. So I'm keen and excited about playing here this week.

Q. When do you play today?

GREG NORMAN: I'm going to be teeing off in an hour and a half.

Q. Have you said yet, were these injections Cortisone that you mentioned in the back?

GREG NORMAN: Novocaine steroid combination.

Q. What are the changes that you don't like to the golf course?

GREG NORMAN: I don't like the 10th tee change. I think that really changes the angle of the shot. It just doesn't look right off the tee to me. And 13 I didn't like. I thought the tee -- the blind tee shot on 13, where there's four hidden bunkers, two on the left, two on the right, you had to trust your aim so much under those circumstances. And when you walk up there and get on top of the hill you go, yeah, I'm on the fairway. Now you know, you can see it, it just doesn't feel the same to me. So psychologically and to my eye it just doesn't fit me as well as I'd like the other way.

Q. What about the fourth hole?

GREG NORMAN: The fourth hole played exactly the same way as it did as a par-5 as it did a par-4 for us. I hit a driver, 8-iron yesterday. So it's going to play exactly the same. I hit 3-wood, 7-iron in '93. So it could have stayed as a par-4, even off that new tee. I think it's only 235 to carry it, and I know we're not into the wind, but I would say most of the golfers in the field could hit it 235 into the wind.

Q. You mentioned you're taking some injections. On the European Tour they started doing drug tests. Any views on that?

GREG NORMAN: I think my views have been consistent on that, for about 20 years. I think if my memory is right, it might have been back in the mid '80s, we had some back-of-the-room talk about players using beta blockers and stuff like that. And some of you -- some of the reporters in here remember that. And I actually volunteered to be a guinea pig. I volunteered my urine sample to either squash the idea that, hey, look, the top players in the world are not doing it, here's a sample. Or just say go and have a mandatory test and prove it in one way, shape or form.

So I would say that because of the peak performance these athletes are trying to get into, are they using performance enhancing drugs, I doubt it, because golf doesn't allow that to happen, because you need to be very calm and very within yourself. Now, I say that without any medical degree or background. There could be stuff out there that caters to that. They tried in the Olympics, I suppose, to a degree, and they get caught out. And I would just -- like with the equipment, I support mandatory testing, every now and then, just a spot check. Keep the guys alert.

Is it a manufacturer's fault that accidentally a driver gets out there and the player doesn't know about it? I think a player knows when he picks up a driver and it goes 30 yards further than it did the day before, he knows the difference. I think spot check -- every week, you know, just to say we've got to police it, yeah, we police our rules of the game of golf. Yeah, we should be able to police it. But I think it should be a mandatory spot check. You don't know when it's coming. Pick out four or five guys one week, and say okay, guys -- they're not going to fight it. They're going to volunteer for it, if they're asked to do it, because 99.9 percent of the guys, I can't say a hundred percent, because I can't say a hundred percent.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Greg, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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