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June 10, 1997
LES UNGER: Well, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the '97 U.S.
Open. I believe this is No. 16 for Mr. Norman. We welcome him
to that. I wonder if we can ask you to open it up by asking you
to describe the course versus the course that it was when you
played here before in the Kemper and you had a couple victories
GREG NORMAN: I played here last Friday after the second round
of the Kemper. I snuck on over here with Nicky Price and Scotty
McCarron. I haven't played another round here since, but I can
honestly say I think the changes here have been phenomenal. You
can actually see where you're going on a couple of tee shots.
I think the golf course is a much more of a playable golf course
for that reason. They didn't touch the layout. I think the changes
they made on a few of the greens are exceptional. So, all and
all, I give this one 101 percent improvement on the old Congressional.
So, you know, who did it, Rees?
LES UNGER: I think so.
GREG NORMAN: Rees Jones, he should be congratulated in doing it
because he maintained the integrity of the golf course. He maintained
the playability of the golf course, but also enhanced the golf
course. It's very, very difficult to do when you're renovating
a golf course of this stature of Congressional. And, from the
type of playability and the scores, it will be a difference between
when I played here in the Kemper and the U.S. Open, I think it
will be a totally different golf course. This one is a beast.
It's 7200 yards of pure no let up. I think the only hole out there
we get any type of break on is the 8th hole, which is about 368
yards. Every other hole, you have to have your game with you.
If you don't have your game with you, you have to have your patience
with you. If you don't have your patience with you, it's going
to be a long, hard week.
LES UNGER: How about the state of your game?
GREG NORMAN: The state of my game is very solid. I've had a couple
of very good performances over the last couple weeks. Obviously,
Memorial I wish there was a four-round tournament, not a three
round, but I won a three-round tournament at Memorial. You win
some. You lose some. But, my game was strong there. Last week,
my game was strong all four days; I think the criteria you are
really looking for coming into this tournament, the U.S. Open,
is what I was looking at was making sure you drive the ball well.
If you drive the ball well and you set yourself up for play, and
it's not like at Congressional here, you can go off with 1-irons
and 2-irons. You have to hit a driver because these par 4s are
like 440, 460, 465, 468, 480, the 17th hole. So you've got to
be hitting your driver because you need to get the ball down there
where you're going in with a 5 or 6-iron or 4-iron. You don't
want to be going into these greens with a 5-wood, 4-wood, 2-iron,
3-iron. So, the crucial part of this week is get the ball in play.
LES UNGER: We're going to go to questions.
Q. At The Memorial, you said that you didn't like the par 3
finish. Now, having played it, do you have any different feelings
GREG NORMAN: Absolutely. I said I couldn't make a real comment
on it because I hadn't played it. I think it's a great finishing
hole. I really do. It's the first time I've ever played, other
than we played the TPC. I think you guys might be able to help
me here when we played the Tour championship in San Antonio. It
was a par 3 finish there. I think this is a great finishing hole.
I really do. It sets up well. The spectators can see the shot.
And, like I said, I had to play it to feel it, and it's 190 yards
to the middle of the green. There's some great pin positions.
So, yeah, even though you've got the ball in the hand and you
have the whole teeing ground to move laterally to find the best
lie and the best approach and the angle, you still have to execute
the shot. And, I think it's a very positive move on the USGA's
behalf, because you've got to play the shot, irrespective of whether
it's a par 5 or par 4, you've got to hit the right shot and you
have to hit the green.
Q. Other than getting your driving game together, what's your
routine for preparing for a major and has that changed over the
years; if so, why?
GREG NORMAN: Well, the routine is pretty much the same. You like
to focus in on your mental approach, make sure that's getting
finally tuned. Second of all, your physical approach, you're driving
the golf ball and your short game. When you marry those two and
you get them right. Then, you know you have your game to the level
you need to get it at. So, that's what I work on. And, I really
haven't changed that approach over the 16 years.
Q. Yeah, Greg, there were a couple of incidents at the Kemper
over the weekend, the incident at the first tee on Saturday. And,
then as one of my colleagues put it, flipping the bird on the
16th on Sunday. Could you talk about those and also in retrospect,
was there any -- in your mind, was there the possibility that
maybe you overreacted to that?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think the overall reaction - obviously, made
pretty good press this morning by a gentleman, one of your colleagues
who liked to make reference to it. And, the unfortunate part about
it, I didn't create the situation and the situation just kept
lingering and lingering and lingering. Coming into the 17th hole
last week, you've got to understand, there was a lot of emotion
involved because unless you've been in that situation, you don't
understand it, and there was a lot of emotion involved. I was
still trying to give myself a chance of winning the golf tournament.
When you hear a comment like that come from the gallery, it does
have a tendency of raising your emotional level that much higher.
I do regret doing what I did, but again, it's all emotion. And,
I, you know, I know that I'm a role model. I know I have to have
the responsibility, and that wasn't a good image to portray. But,
again, you get back to the emotion of it all, and it's just sad
that somebody's opinion like the opinion of the gentleman this
morning, one of your colleagues, that he doesn't understand the
circumstances. And I did not create that situation. That situation
created itself beyond my control. So, I do regret it, yes. It
leaves a sour taste in my mouth because we're still sitting here
talking about it on Tuesday after the incident, four days after
the incident. There's no need for that. We're at a different event.
We're at the U.S. Open. I know certain people are looking for
certain stories to write about it. I would rather see them write
about positive things rather than harping on the negative. I realize
my mistakes because of that emotional position.
Q. Tell us what you heard.
LES UNGER: The question is what did you hear.
GREG NORMAN: I heard the guy yell out from the gallery: "Chunk
it in the water." That is not a good thing to hear when you're
ready to play the game of golf and you want to birdie a hole and
you want to give yourself a chance to win. You don't want to hear
that. That's where the emotion comes in, and you hear a lot of
that. Ever since that situation, it happened on the first tee,
a lot of people took advantage of it. A lot of people were saying
things on the way around. Unless you're actually there walking
down the fairway and hearing the things on a constant level all
the time, you don't understand. That's why my emotion level was
getting so high. It was very hard for me to keep it level. And,
mind you, I did not give him the bird either. I did not. I can
honestly say -- I gestured to do it, but I did not give him the
bird. So that is categorically untrue.
Q. What was the gesture?
GREG NORMAN: The gesture was --
LES UNGER: Turn off the cameras.
GREG NORMAN: You and I will go outside and I'll show you exactly
what I did.
Q. Greg, it seems like over the course of your career, you've
had a number of these incidents where you have some fans - do
you fault yourself at all for allowing fans to ruffle you? Do
you think maybe that's something you need to work on as far as
just staying focused on what's going on between you and the ropes?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I stay focused on what goes on between the
ropes. It's just one of those situations where one or two incidents
over my entire career. I think everybody can probably say the
exact same thing. It's very difficult to control it all. I do
a great job at it. I would like you guys to come and experience
some of the things you hear out there. I mean, you too would be
whittled away a little bit too after certain -- I mean, one of
these days I'll sit down with you guys and I'll say every day
what somebody in the gallery. I would like to see what your reaction
would be to it all. It's not a lot of fun, especially when you're
out there trying to be the person you want to be, trying to be
the golfer you want to be, and try to uphold an image and respect
for the game of golf that you love to play. It's very, very difficult
and. You, know, you don't want to have the minorities screw it
up for the majority. You know that. But, again, it's whittled,
whittled, slow water torture test, and it happens everywhere you
play too. It doesn't just happen here.
Q. Just as a follow-up: I read something to the effect where,
regarding the first tee incident, the announcement, you were so
upset because he said you said whatever that happened that night
is nobody's business. But, since it involved the President of
the United States, isn't it everybody's business?
GREG NORMAN: No. It's everybody's business, but nobody needs to
know the precise details. I understand the position that the President
was in. And, I understand the moment, at that time and what was
happening. So, I don't think those things should be public knowledge
ever. The overall dynamics of the incident, yeah, of course, you
know, we've all got to work together. You have to do your job
and I have to do my job. Yes, it was the President of the United
States. Yes, it was an important time because you could see him
hobbling along for months on end. So, that, I understand, categorically.
But, the other thing too is why do we have -- this is something
that happened many months ago. That was the -- you know, you try
and let all that stuff die away and take its own slow death.
Q. Yes. I was wondering if you could address your mental game
and how you do maintain that focus after such an incident and
then not let it carry over to the next event.
GREG NORMAN: Well, it carried over for me last week. It carried
over for me a few holes regrettably. My caddie did a wonderful
job trying to get me to forget about it and trying to understand
the emotion of what happened there because he just knows. So,
it became a situation where Tony was doing a great job with me
so it took longer than what I'm used to because there was a lot
of emotion involved with it. And, once I got over that hurdle,
I was fine. I was absolutely fine, even though I could hear the
barrage of certain people in the gallery just throwing things
at you all the way around. I can deal with that. I can put that
out of my mind once it's out of my mind. So, here we are sitting
here Tuesday morning at the U.S. Open and the topic of conversation
is something that happened at my house back at the start of the
year and something that happened in September. I mean, like I
said then, I didn't want the story to get a life of its own. Here
it is, it's still got a life of its own. It's still going on,
but it doesn't need to go on.
Q. Your mental game now?
GREG NORMAN: My mental game is very good, very sharp. I'm looking
forward to getting out there and hitting some balls. I'm looking
forward to spending some time with David Leadbetter, catching
up with a couple of my buddies, Steve Elkington, I'm going to
play a round with him tomorrow. Those are the things I look forward
Q. Getting back to the golf course now, could you comment on
6 and 10, the two par 4s this week?
GREG NORMAN: Six is going to be probably the toughest hole out
there. When I played on Friday, I hit it in the rough. I hit an
8-iron and a 9-iron on the green. Nicky Price hit a beautiful
drive down the middle of the fairway and hit an all-out 1-iron.
His calculation, the way he hit both shots, he played like 500
yards to him. He hit a good driver, a good 1-iron. The greens
got up by water, front and back and on the right-hand side. It's
not an overly generous green to be firing at with a 1-iron, 4-wood,
5-wood, 2-iron, that type of thing. So, that's just -- you just
play it as a par 5. I'm in half a mind-set if I've got somewhere
around 220 the front, lay it up, pitch it on. Five will be your
worse score, you'll probably make four more times than you make
Q. Are those holes fair?
GREG NORMAN: Well, is the U.S. Open fair? They want to test every
aspect of your game. They want to test the mental part of your
game. Now, is a par 4 necessary to reach it in 2? Maybe not. I've
read stories about Ben Hogan laying it up on par 3s to have the
position to chip it on and to make no worse than 3. Is that part
of the game? Absolutely, it's part of the game, and it's just
tough. This golf course will be unrelenting for the whole week.
Q. In your experience, is it the case that behavior amongst
the galleries is actually deteriorating, as the appeal of the
sport seems to wading at the moment?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think in all sports, you see the -- that's
a very good question because I talked about this with George Michael
last night on his show. And, I think you'll find now because in
every sport different than what it was 20 years ago when I first
came, people seem like they know you more. The media coverage
in every sport is more intense, and so when you have more of an
intense media coverage with not only print but television and
video and people get to feel like they know you, and when they
feel like they know you, they feel like they can come up to you
and say whatever they want to say like you do to your buddy. Like,
Hey, I think you did something wrong, and I say, Hey, I don't
think that's right. He would do the same with me. But people have
the sense like, Okay, Greg, put your arm around you. Here you
go. We're friends, because of what the media does. I think that's
great. It's something all the athletes of the world have to learn
to deal with. There has been that change. I've seen that change
in my generation, in my lifetime of playing the game. I think
that's wonderful for all of us. We all have a better opportunity
to exploding and doing our jobs to the level we all want to do.
I think it's great, but you have to make that mental transition.
For me, it's been a gradual change. Somebody like Tiger, now he's
come straight into it. That's the difference between a young kid
coming on the scene now and somebody like myself who's been out
here 20 years. If you ask Jack the same question, he's seen even
more of a transitional change.
Q. Greg, talking about Tiger Woods, this atmosphere today compared
with a year ago seems a lot more relaxed. Do you think he's taken
quite a lot of pressure off you and how would you advise him to
GREG NORMAN: Well, I said this back in November last year when
Tiger went down to Australia. I think the majority of the guys
in here have heard this. I think it's great. I love it. I really
do. I know my responsibilities to the game and the responsibilities
to myself, but it's always nice to have somebody else out there
just to take a little bit off your shoulders. I'll be -- I've
been doing it for 20 years. I've enjoyed doing it. I don't want
to stop doing it. It's nice to have somebody else doing it, doing
it to more of a level than what I'm doing it. Believe me, I'm
not one bit jealous of Tiger Woods. I'm not envious of Tiger Woods.
I welcome him out here. I think he's a great addition to the game
of golf. My point of view, it's wonderful to have young kids come
along with that charisma, that belief, that approach he's got.
It's great to see that. It really is. So, from my point of view,
he can have as much as he wants.
Q. Distractions aside, Greg, the last couple weeks seems like
the confidence level is getting higher and higher. Is it exactly
where you want it to be as we come into this Open week?
GREG NORMAN: Yes.
LES UNGER: That's a good answer.
GREG NORMAN: That's the surest answer I've ever given you in my
Q. Greg, Butch Harmon has said he doesn't think Tiger has to
hit a driver all the time. Yesterday a few practice holes, I saw
he was hitting irons off the tee. Do you think that he is capable
of doing that as opposed to some other guys, and if so, will that
give him an advantage because he doesn't have to hit a driver?
GREG NORMAN: I don't know whether it would be an advantage, to
answer the last part of your question first. And knowing Tiger's
length like I know it, his 2-iron probably is going to get out
there where most people's 3-wood is. Where he's that much longer,
I remember playing with John Daly when he first came out, he would
hit a 7-iron when I would hit a 5-iron. So that's where the difference
would be for Tiger. Like anything, if you're hitting a 2-iron
240, you still have to hit it in play, whether it's a 2-iron or
a driver, it's still a shot that you have to get it in play. So
obviously Tiger is going to play the game the way he thinks it
mentally fits him. Does he want to have a 5-iron in the green
or a 7-iron in the green. That has to be his choice when he gets
to the tee.
Q. Greg, you were talking about possibly laying up on 6 if
necessary. Looking back at your game, say, 10 years ago, are you
a better course manager now in a situation like this?
GREG NORMAN: I would have to say yes because I don't have the
length I had 10 years ago. I mean, I've lost about 10 yards. So
that 10 yards is a big difference over the overall scheme of things.
So I would say 10 years ago, I would never have said I would lay
up on a par 4. Even if I had a 3-wood in my hand, I would still
go for it. I would say there's the difference, that I've already
accepted the fact that I might be laying up on a par 4, even when
I'm in the fairway and even though I know I can reach the green
with a iron. Those are the type of things I will be thinking about,
so, yes, I think I am different.
Q. International players have had a lot of success at The Masters,
The British, and even some at the PGA, but here only won once
in the last 15 years. Is there any reason why?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I remember when American players hadn't one
a major for awhile, and then everybody said is there a reason
why. There's no reason why. I think just the players play. And
there's no reason why an international player can't win here.
There's no reason why an American player can't dominate at The
Masters. There's no reason why certain players win at certain
golf courses. It's just the players. The players are so good no
matter where they're from, South Africa, Japan, Australia, New
Zealand, no matter where they're from, Europe, when that player
because you have such a diverse cross-section of athletes who
play the game, when they come through, you get a lot of guys to
pick from. There's a lot of top players, not just from America
but from a global basis. Why they haven't won here, I can't answer
that, at a U.S. Open. Could very easily happen this week, and
so therefore, we'll be talking about that, so that thing will
be over and done with.
Q. Greg, you said your confidence is where you want it to be,
but you haven't one a Tour event since Doral in '96. Is that something
that's been bothering you? You've come close a number of times.
GREG NORMAN: No, not really. I've won. Whether you win the PGA
Tour, whether you win overseas, it's still difficult to win no
matter where you play. It's exactly the same feeling. I don't
care whether you stack it up with all the top players in the world
or you stack it up with one of the ten of the top players in the
world, it's still difficult to win. The players, when they have
a chance to win, they're going to play. To me, a win is a win
no matter where you play. Yes, you'd like to win everywhere you
play. In only six events I think I've played this year, I'm looking
forward to it. It will happen. It's not a major concern of mine.
It didn't undermine my confidence one bit.
Q. Yes, at the Memorial you were pretty adamant that you did
not like a par 3 finishing hole, as I understand your comments.
Now, today, you're saying that you think it's a good idea. What's
changed your opinion in one practice round?
GREG NORMAN: Well, Jerry, because at The Memorial, I said I hadn't
played the hole. And at The Memorial, I also said it was like
180 yards. That was the information I had, to the middle of the
green. So that means it's like 165 to the front. I was totally
misinformed about that hole because I had never played the hole.
So maybe that will teach me never to open my mouth again until
I play the hole. But that's why it changed, because when I went
to the golf course and I played the golf course and I looked at
the hole and saw the playability of the hole, it actually fits.
Now, I don't necessarily agree that every golf course and every
tournament should finish with a par 3. I don't agree with that.
I think this hole fits the situation beautifully. If I had my
choice, I think the 17th hole is a great finishing hole, the one
we normally finish on the Kemper. What they did was, they played
the true Congressional layout. What is it, the North Course, is
GREG NORMAN: The Blue Course. I hadn't played the 17th hole either
-- the 16th hole, excuse me. I hadn't played that hole either,
so that was my first look at that. So, in all honesty, I made
a statement on something I didn't know. I was just going on my
gut feelings that a par 3 wouldn't be a good finishing hole, not
knowing what the hole was like. Once you play the hole and you
see it, I changed my mind.
Q. Greg, we've talked a lot about driving the golf ball. Driving
to the golf course today, we understand you might have had some
transportation problems. Was there a difficulty on the way here
GREG NORMAN: Absolutely, I got a flat tire.
Q. Better today than Thursday I would think.
GREG NORMAN: You got that right. I had to go confiscate somebody
else's car. That's how I got in here.
Q. Greg, before The Masters, you had spoken with Tony Robbins
and just visited with him. Have you kept up that relationship
and are you working, you know, working with him at all?
GREG NORMAN: No, I haven't worked with him since that Monday at
The Masters. I've spoken to Tony once. He called me about 10 days
ago, but it was just a brief discussion to see how -- it wasn't
any in-depth working at all.
Q. Talking of transport, I believe you're buying a new aircraft.
Is that an indication that you still see the golf you intend to
play in the future, you're still very much a world player, and
that's how you'll make up your schedule in the years to come?
GREG NORMAN: I've always been a world player. I'll always be a
world player. I like to think of the fact that my business is
on a global basis. When I go somewhere to do business, I can go
there and play at the same time or vice versa. Go there to play
and do some business. I foresee that until the day I die, that
I'll be traveling the world and playing the game of golf and doing
things and supporting the people that supported me all through
the years. I think that's part of my obligation.
Q. Greg, I understand that you visited your friend the President
yesterday. Any reactions or comments about the trip there, the
GREG NORMAN: No, I just thought it was great. My children are
U.S. citizens. I thought it would be wonderful for them to go
to the White House because they've never been to the White House.
So we went along there, and they had a look around. And, you know,
it was one of those days that I thought was a very special day
for my family. And it was good to see the President was up and
around. He's starting to chip and pitch the ball, and he's walking
without any problems. He's lost 30 pounds. He feels great. He
thanks me for it, the fact that he's lost 30 pounds. A couple
of his staff came up to me and said, "That's the best thing
that ever happened to him. Don't worry about it because it slowed
him down for a couple months." He was very upbeat and excited
about getting back and playing again.
LES UNGER: What does he have to do to his game to go up a level?
You've played with him.
GREG NORMAN: Right now, I think just get time on the golf course,
get back there and play a few more holes. Obviously during his
presidency now, he's going to have a tough time doing that. But
once he finishes, that's when his game will really improve because
he'll have time to spend on his game.
Q. Have you played with any other Presidents, and if so, what's
different about that experience, playing with a President, and
if you have any anecdotes of something that's taken place with
Clinton on the course that someone may not know about.
GREG NORMAN: I'm not going to tell you that. Well, he's a human
being. Whether you're the President of the United States or a
friend next door, they love to play the game of golf, so you get
out there and you make sure they enjoy it. They want to know as
much about the game as what they can learn, and he truly loves
the game. I know President Bush, and he loves to play the game.
My former Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawk, he loves to play
the game. Those guys enjoy getting out there and immerse themselves
in the sport. It's like me enjoying some other part of my life
that I really enjoy like scuba diving or deep sea fishing where
you actually get out there and you immerse yourself in it to such
an extent you forget about everything else. That's the way the
President is with his golf. All he wants to do is think about
golf when he's on the golf course, so it's his way of getting
away from everything.
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