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July 17, 2003

Greg Norman


KEITH DUCKWORTH: We have Greg Norman, ladies and gentlemen, currently 69, 2-under par. Tell us about the round today.

GREG NORMAN: It was a very difficult day. I'd be surprised if anybody walked in and said it was an easy day. The golf course, I don't think there was an easy shot out there today. The golf course was there, baring her teeth all the way around. I'm glad it rained a little bit overnight and softened it up. We played the firmness we had on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the wind we had today. I don't know what the scores would be. It was a tough day, no question. You hit some good shots that land in the middle of the fairway, and end up finishing in the rough, and you hit bad shots and they're really bad. You had to be extremely patient out there.

KEITH DUCKWORTH: Could we go through the card.

GREG NORMAN: Driver, 8-iron to about 25, 30 feet, I guess, on the first.

4th hole, hit driver, punched a 4-iron to about 6 inches.

The 11th hole, hit a 4-iron to about five feet.

14th hole, driver, 3-iron, punched a 5-iron short of the green, chipped it up, missed it from about 7 feet.

18, driver, punched a 2-iron right at the green, chipped it to about 7 feet and 2-putt.

Q. Would you say that the second shot you played in the fourth was typical of the sort of shot that you've got to have around here? You got right down on it and hit it low, and got a real Scottish runner.

GREG NORMAN: Absolutely. The 4th hole is that kind of shot. I had 194 yards to that hole, and I had basically four different ways of playing it. And I think that's why I love links golf. Instead of having 194 yards, you can hit a 5-iron to the bottom of the flag stick. With one shot, I could have hit four different golf clubs and tried to get in the same position. Fortunately for me, I saw the shot as I was walking up, before I even knew what the yardage was. And I remember playing it in '93, to tell you the truth, a little bump-and-run 4-iron in there. And it worked then and it worked today. You've got to be able to feel comfortable with those shots.

This is the type of golf course, it's a very quirky golf course. I said that before, but it's easy to throw you off balance. It's a hard golf course to get comfortable on, especially with this wind. There's very, very few holes that are straight into the wind or straight downwind. And like I said in the beginning, there's not an easy shot out there. And this is what the golf course does to you. It keeps you off balance all day long.

Q. When the weather changes like this and the wind goes completely around the other way, can you explain to what extent that crosses up the world's best golfers?

GREG NORMAN: Well, if you haven't played this golf course before, it really crosses you up. Fortunately, yesterday afternoon the wind turned somewhere in this direction. I don't think it was this intensity, but it was somewhere within 10 or 15 degrees of this. And when I played with Scottie McCarron yesterday, he had no idea where to go. He was so glad he had some type of practice round in this wind. I was telling him where to hit it. Like holes 7 and 9, for example, a hole like 4, I told him to hit it down and knock it on the green. He would never have thought about doing that unless you played here before.

When you come out here and if you haven't played these windy conditions before, it can throw you for a loop.

You're aiming sometimes 40 yards left of the fairway, trying to let the wind take it 50 or 60 yards and put it in the middle of the fairway. And it's hard sometimes to aim that far left or that far right and trust it. And then you've got to hope the ball lands on a flat part of the fairway and kicks straight. You've got to be -- hopefully you've played here before to experience it. If you haven't, it's tough. It's tough on your head all the way around.

Q. Can you compare your round today with that 64 in '93?

GREG NORMAN: I think the wind might have been a lot stronger today than it was the last day, I'm not too sure. No, I really can't, actually. I putted very well today. I know I putted very well the last round. I didn't hit as many fairways today as I did in the last round. But under the circumstances I think the 64 was a far better score, because there's not another tomorrow. That was it. You had to play that well to win the championship. And this 69 has got me in pretty good momentum to take me into the next 54 holes. So it's pretty hard to compare the two of them.

Q. You said it was a hard day, but you must be delighted with the round, the fact that it sets you up so well?

GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I'm very happy with the round. I know it's very easy to let the score slip. I'm sure there's guys going to be out there 3-under, 2-under, and be hoping to finish 3-under, 2-under, 1-under. The golf course -- 18 is playing brutally tough. 15 is not easy. 14 is tough. It sounds like the wind is not going to lay down any this afternoon. I'm delighted with my score. I worked hard. I was very relaxed. I putted well. I could see the shots I wanted to hit. Some of them I didn't hit the way I'd like to. Considering this is my third golf tournament for the year, I felt very comfortable and satisfied.

Q. The second shot on 17, was that a similar type of shot to the second shot on the 4th, punched? And please, would you tell me what club it was?

GREG NORMAN: That was on a severe upslope and it was a 2-iron. I had 187 to the front. I think it was 204 or something like that to the flag. I was hoping just to do that, just semi top the ball, actually, but I caught it just perfect and the ball shot up a bit. It didn't get the release I thought it would.

Q. Can you give me an example of the shot that was punched like the one on the 4th?

GREG NORMAN: Every hole, I hit a punch shot. I don't think I hit a full shot out of the driver. Every other hole -- the 11th hole with the 4-iron was a smooth one. And outside of the driver, I pretty much punched every other shot I played all day long.

Q. You said you saw four ways of playing that shot at the 4th. Can you actually pull the hole off now as you could then?

GREG NORMAN: I would say so. If you see it and feel it. The options I had was hitting a 5-iron, landing on the front of the green, letting it one bounce up and stop. 4-iron, or hit it with a 6-iron, play on the front and hook it up that way. Or I could have cut the high 4-iron and held it up against the wind and tried to fly it up on top. And the only shot that made sense to me was landing at about 165, 167 yards and let it go. It was just a half 4-iron shot, really.

Q. Considering you haven't played much this year, did you expect to be playing this well so early?

GREG NORMAN: My practice sessions have been going very, very well. I've been working with Rick Smith a bit in Florida. And he's kind of put me in a position where I felt very, very comfortable with my game. But I knew leaving Florida and coming over here, I don't care how well you play before you come into the Open on a golf course like Royal St. George's, that can all change because of the conditions. Obviously winning is a great confidence booster, but also the style of how you play sometimes, you have to completely change your mind set. Like I just said, I punched every shot except tee shots and one 4-iron shot. So you've got to be willing to accept that coming in. So when I came over here I kind of came under the radar screen very, very nicely, because my expectations weren't that high, No. 1, but my desires inside were high and I was very excited about playing because links golf excites me. I enjoy it. I enjoy chasing the ball around the golf course. I enjoy hitting the ball on the ground and I enjoy hitting the putter from ten yards off the green. When I get into that type of element and zone it's fun to me to play golf.

Q. It sounds a bit perverse, but was there any way in which your lack of golf this season in some way benefitted you today?

GREG NORMAN: No, I wouldn't say it benefitted me. Believe me, I wish I had another 6 or 7 tournaments under my belt. No question. It's just a matter of controlling your emotions under conditions like this. It's so tough to concentrate. Like the putt on the 18th hole, there's a funnel of wind coming between the grandstands and it's pushing you all over the place. You have to have your mind set of staying relaxed and put a solid stroke on it. If you make it, great. If you miss it, just know you hit a solid stroke. That's the type of thing that I keep telling myself going around here. Like I said, I would have loved to play more golf coming in here, but I couldn't do that. So I had to figure a way to get myself here and feel like I could compete, at my level. And fortunately today has helped me tremendously in that regard.

Q. I was wondering if while you're playing, word reaches you of things around the course, like Tiger losing the ball and taking 7 on the first. And also did you get a slow-play warning?

GREG NORMAN: We got warned coming off the -- I think the 17th tee, they said we were out of position. By the time we got to the -- before we got to the 17th green they said we were back in position. So it took us 400 yards and all of a sudden we were okay. I'll never forget at the British Open in '93, here. I was walking down the 9th fairway one day, I think it was Saturday, and John Paramour came up to me and told me I was about 14 seconds out of position. I said, John, you've got to be kidding. And I walked to the 10th tee and they were still on the tee. I said now what do we do? Are we on the clock or not on the clock? Look, I think we were out of position when we were playing 15. No question. But you're supposed to have the group on the green as you're walking on the tee. They weren't on the green. So by the time we got to the 16th, that's when they came up and told us, hey, you're a little bit out of position. So I think we were, no question. They did the right thing in giving us the warning, get moving.

Q. About Tiger, did you get any word of that today?

GREG NORMAN: No, I did not, actually. I think somebody came up to Tony and said something, Tiger is walking back to the first tee. And Tony said, "I don't want to know anything about that. We've got our own problems." But the guy in front, I think it was Jerry Kelly, he was hacking around up there. I felt sorry for him, because I believe -- I don't know what he made.

Q. 11.

GREG NORMAN: 11 on the first hole. That can happen to anybody. And it's unfortunate. The first hole is like the way Muirfield was. The rough is tremendously thick and probably too thick and too gnarly. I don't mind rough where it penalizes you, you can get it back on the fairway, but I don't like the rough where you miss it by 30 feet and you lose the ball. Muirfield was like that. But the rest of the holes aren't as bad as that, you can move the ball forward. And I think they just like making the first hole to intimidate you and saying don't miss the fairway.

Q. You had low expectations coming in. What will your expectations be now?

GREG NORMAN: Exactly the same way as when I teed it up this morning. I knew, and I think I said in the press conference here on whatever day it was, that if I get myself in position after the first two rounds, hopefully momentum will start to build up. I think 69 is a good start to that momentum. Tomorrow is another day, and I don't know what the elements are going to throw at us tomorrow afternoon. So I've just got to take it, play one shot at a time, and see where it will end up. I'm very happy with my position. I hope I can keep pushing it forward.

Q. One of your earlier teachers, Charlie Earp. He retired this week, tell me what extent Charlie's influence still exists in your game?

GREG NORMAN: I think Charlie's influence will always exist in my game, because at the end of the day Charlie was the one that put me on the road map to success. Not only as a player, but he was a great instiller of values about life and people, more or less, and ethics. And I think more than my game, what he taught me about my game, those are the things that I remember most about Charlie, that are in my makeup right now, today. He always told me to -- somebody asks you the question, tell them the truth, whether you like it or not, no matter what the repercussions are. Things like that.

The game of golf is bigger than anything else. He taught me that. Try to be as humble as you possibly can about success. I didn't know I was going to be successful when I was assistant pro to Charlie. But those are things he taught me. He's going to be sorely missed, but he did put in a pretty good inning. He deserves a break, and I'm happy for him and I'm sure he's going to enjoy his fishing and time off now. Maybe now he can get over to the States and spend some time with me without worrying about working.

Q. Greg, an earlier question asked you to compare this round with '93. Can I take you a little bit further back, and ask you, did the way that you played in Turnberry, in the awful conditions when you won, did your mind go back to some of that to help you with how you played today?

GREG NORMAN: Well, I always thought my second round at Turnberry, 63, I thought that was one of the best rounds I've ever played. I don't know, if I shot 67 today it probably would have been pretty close to being one of those better rounds.

Q. I didn't mean being on par, but did you use any of the memories of it?

GREG NORMAN: No, Turnberry never came up in my mind. Actually '93 never even came up today. Even though the fourth hole I did play the same shot in '93, but at that time I didn't actually think about the shot I hit in '93. But at the end of the day I know I had the similar type of shot. I don't live in the past like that. I don't try and remember shots that I hit or remember -- because every time you hit it, it's a different shot. Every time you putt it's a different putt, different speed, different wind. So it's nice to know where the holes are and where the hidden shots are. And the other thing that I thought was -- I don't know if any of the other players mentioned it, probably the pin positions today were unusually difficult. I only saw two pins that I recognized in the whole 16 holes. So they put some different ones out there than I had seen in '93. So it's not like there was a great memory bank of how the putts went, either, because there were some putts out there I wouldn't have even thought to practice on.

Q. Which two pins?

GREG NORMAN: The fourth hole was very similar and the third hole was very similar.

Q. You received great support again today. How much did that help you? And just a word on the British crowds in general.

GREG NORMAN: I've always had, fortunately for me, had great support from the British fans, Scottish fans, Irish fans. I honed my skills here in Europe before I went to the United States. And with a Claret Jug under your winning, it helps, as well. So I've always had a good affinity with the spectators here, and I think the same way back their way towards me. I like to play golf in front of them. I love playing golf in front of especially British, German crowds. They seem very respectful of the circumstances. You can hit a shot that might be 60 feet from the hole, but they know that was a hell of a shot to get it 60 feet from the hole. And they respect you for that. They understand the game of golf and the conditions you're playing under, because a lot of them play this type of golf course. That's why I enjoy playing in front of them.

End of FastScripts....

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