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July 28, 2005

Greg Norman


RAND JERRIS: We're now joined by Greg Norman, Greg with an opening round of 68, 3 under par for the championship.

Greg, it looks like from the statistics that you missed one fairway and one green. You must be pleased with your ball striking today.

GREG NORMAN: Very pleased with it. I knew yesterday I was playing very, very well, and it was just a matter of keeping it going. I felt the tee shots here I like. I'm comfortable on the tee shots. I like the way the golf course sets up for me. The golf course was a completely different one today than what we played yesterday from what we played Tuesday, so there was some adjustment to make, especially on the speed of the greens. I didn't putt to some of the pin positions where we had today, so it was just a little bit more to get used to.

Hopefully that will be I'm pretty confident that will be the case over the next couple of days. Not that I felt I putted poorly, I just felt like I didn't have the right speed of the greens. That was probably the only downfall or the weakest part of the game today. All in all I felt extremely comfortable.

RAND JERRIS: Could you just provide us the clubs and distances for your three birdies.

GREG NORMAN: I hit a driver, 3 wood to No. 5 and two putted from the fringe.

8, I hit a 7 iron to about three feet.

And then on 11 I hit a 3 wood, sand wedge to about 15 feet.

Q. How does a no bogey round in the Senior Open compare to a no bogey round in the U.S. Open?

GREG NORMAN: Well, I think this was a little softer U.S. Open golf course. Hard to imagine the greens would have been much faster in a regular U.S. Open but because of the amount of rain we had yesterday and the greens are extremely undulating here. You'd have a hard time putting a lot more speed on the putting surfaces.

I didn't hit it in the rough, so I couldn't tell you whether the rough was that thick. Seeing Jerry Pate hit out of the rough, I imagine it was because he struggled. I wouldn't say it's as thick as a regular Senior Open, but I would say it's as thick as our regular PGA TOUR events for sure.

I haven't really answered your question. But on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd probably give it an 8 and a half out of a regular one instead of a 10.

Q. You birdied one of the par 5s. Were all three available? Could you reach them?

GREG NORMAN: I three putted the next par 5, the 6th hole. I knocked it on in two and three putted that. And then the 10th hole is the only fairway I missed. I thought I hit a great drive down the right side and it hung up in the deep rough and I had to lay up short, hit it to 12 feet and two putted.

The par 5s are really gettable for me. I can reach them easily, probably with irons because there was a lot of moisture in the air this morning, and as the fairways dry out, I know I'll be able to get irons to the greens. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get all three of them.

Q. You talked about the speed of the greens. What, ten and a half?

GREG NORMAN: Ten and a half downhill, down grain.

Q. It's grainy out there, isn't it?

GREG NORMAN: The greens are very grainy. It's natural for them to be grainy because there's so much slope on the greens. You're always going to get water shed, and when you have bent greens wherever the grass is going to go, the water is going to go that way, and because of the slope of the greens you're going to have a lot of grain in them. They've got these greens quick, these greens would be very, very tough to play. You'd have to be extremely careful on where you put your second shots, and even then you'd probably put yourself into some trouble.

Q. By Saturday they'll dry out?

GREG NORMAN: I would like to see these greens at no more than 10 and a half. I mean, normal U.S. Opens or majors we play on around about sometimes 11 and a half, 12. We're getting them up there. But I don't think they could here. The older guys don't have the strokes of the younger guys. They're not as smooth and fluid, so there's probably some thought process put into that, as well.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your putting performance? You hit 94 percent of greens but your putting stats weren't as stellar.

GREG NORMAN: I think that's what we were just talking about.

Q. Did you feel that you putted very well today or can you get better yourself?

GREG NORMAN: I think my only the reason why I didn't make the putts I thought I should have made today was because my speed was wrong. My stroke was okay, my speed was out. The greens were a different pace today than what they were on Tuesday to what they were yesterday. A lot of moisture coming out of the greens because of the moisture overnight and the sun came out, so it's going to suck that moisture up. It's going to stand the grass up a little bit quicker during the day, so as the day goes by, they're probably going to slow down just a smidgeon more.

You have a downhill gown grain putt, you think you have to nurse it down there, you actually have to hit it. Then you have an uphill putt and you really have to pound the ball. It's more of a mental game and knowing go ahead and hit the ball. It's not as quick as what you think it is. So I don't have any problem with my putting.

Q. About how many autographs do you plan on signing this week?

GREG NORMAN: I don't know. I just sign as many as I feel necessary without disrupting the golfers out there on the golf course. We don't do it during the rounds, number one, during the official rounds. We do it during practice rounds, and we do as many as we can possibly do. If we stood in one place we'd be there for five or six hours.

I do as many as I possibly can.

Q. And going along with the fans and golf, how do you feel about the support and the people following you around? Does that add to your game or does it distract you?

GREG NORMAN: Well, I think every athlete likes to play in front of people. I wouldn't go out I don't enjoy playing golf on my own, that's for sure. You might hit a good shot, you need somebody to say, "hey, good shot." We all made comment, Jerry Pate and Mike James and I made comment today about how many people were out there at 8:30 in the morning when we teed off. It was good to see.

I played golf in Ohio for 20 odd years, and the support has been that way, whether it's at The Memorial Tournament or right here. They love their golf, they come out and support us, which I think is fabulous. That's why the USGA no doubt puts that as one of their criteria, picking their golf courses and making sure we get the venues that don't host normal PGA TOUR events or other major championships. So it's been, what, since '69 since there was a championship here, so these people are dying to see golf, and they came out and supported it today very nicely.

Q. Two things: One, your progression now from the British Open to the British Senior to today, where do you feel that is? And secondly, you've got Renwick on the bag, first time on the bag with you, second time out this year, and could you tell us what the plan is with Dave?

GREG NORMAN: Well, my progression is still good. I felt like today I picked up where I was on Sunday at the Royal Aberdeen. I like it. I don't feel like I need to go out there and force the issue in any way, shape or form. I can go out there and have a nice quiet practice instead of having to work on something to practice. I can just actually go practice my swing. I won't hit a lot of balls because, A, I don't want to wear out my back quicker than what I could do .

And as for Dave, I asked Tony Navarro, who caddied for me last week, and I'm looking for a guy that I might be able to take into next year. I know Dave has had some pretty great success with Vijay Singh and Steve Elkington and other players, as well, so Tony highly recommended Dave, and I spoke to Dave on Friday or Saturday of the Senior British Open, and he was happy to come on over.

He's a consummate professional. We need that, I like that. It takes a bit of burden away from me about worrying about the yardage or worrying about a carry over a bunker or something. He says all the right things because he's done it before for other great players. He's going to caddie for me for the rest of this year and we'll see what happens this year.

Q. Did him being on the bag today, was that a help?

GREG NORMAN: Well, it wasn't a hindrance, that's for sure.

Q. Could you just talk about the fact that he's a consummate professional, and a lot of times you get guys that come out and right away are assisting you or really helping you versus you had Tony on the bag, who obviously was the same way.

GREG NORMAN: Yeah, it's a comfort factor. It's just taking one less thought process out of the whole day. When I walk down to get to my ball, I normally start concentrating on my shot the last 20, 25 yards of my walk. When I get there, I've already kind of visualized the distance and he just confirms it to me and it's easy for me just to pull a club and go. That's the comfort zone. You're very comfortable with the guy doing that, instead of having to say, maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong, not too sure. But you know the guy is a pro and he's going to do everything within a half yard of making a mistake, which is great.

Q. I just want to clarify something before I ask my question. You had Dave on the bag last week but not at the British?

GREG NORMAN: No, I had my son at the British Open, I had Tony Navarro last week, and this is the first week with Dave, and Dave will work for me for the rest of the year. I'm not playing much more golf after this, maybe five or six tournaments, but that's it.

Q. You alluded yesterday to making a couple mistakes that you wouldn't have made if you would have been in the heat of battle more this year. Is there any way of knowing how long it takes where you can get to the point where you can have full concentration for an entire round?

GREG NORMAN: I had that today. I mean, my concentration was 101 percent today. Just some of the mistakes I made last week were links mistakes, sea side golf course, real firm conditions. Today was pretty much where you hit the ball was pretty much where it stayed. So my concentration was even Jerry Pate made a comment on it walking off the 18th green. Obviously I had the look today, and I felt like that was just part of my progress is taking slow steps, just get your mind slowly back into it instead of rushing back into it. I know I'm going to be able to keep it going for the next three days at least.

RAND JERRIS: Greg, thank you for your time, and congratulations on your fine play.

GREG NORMAN: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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