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March 3, 1999
DAVE SENKO: Why don't we get started and open it up questions for Greg.
Q. World Match Play Rearview in reflection, any additional thoughts? Did you like how it went; the way it worked out?
GREG NORMAN: The tournament was excellent. I think from the players' perspective, we all enjoyed the Match Play format. From an international player's perspective, a lot of us played in the World Match Play Championship over in England. We knew the format would be a success because, (a) the players like it. I think that was probably shown through with the -- TV ratings were very high as well. Goes to show, you don't need the named players in a final to stir up the interest of the public and the television viewers. I think that was just a good reflection on the overall quality of the golf tournament.
Q. The tournament that you have got to figure into your schedule now, when you look ahead two years, is it something that you have to kind of schedule around, was it that big of a deal for you?
GREG NORMAN: I definitely would. I think everybody would do that. I definitely would because I have always enjoyed Match Play. I think La Costa on the other side of the coin, too, played great. It was dry. We finally played the golf course the way it should be played; instead of going out there slugging around in the wet, you go out there and play the golf course under its playable conditions. That also enhanced the tournament so, yeah, we are not saying it is going to be like that every year, but I definitely would keep the tournament on my schedule.
Q. Would you schedule something ahead like L.A. or something? You don't usually play the West Coast.
GREG NORMAN: That is right. But that could depend on me going down in Australia. Australia, coming home, the week before L.A., and then so if I play L.A. and then I am on the road for about five weeks, so that would be difficult for me to do that.
Q. Yesterday Nick Price said being out there playing with you in the Skins game that you showed no signs of, you know, any type of pain, or I mean, are you feeling okay? Is it bothering you at all?
GREG NORMAN: No, doesn't bother me at all. I have to rehab everyday, every morning and every afternoon when I am playing the game, but outside of that, I have no problems whatsoever. The surgery was a complete success, and obviously to keep my game going, I do have to keep rehabbing. I do have to keep working on it. Like I said to Jack Nicklaus the other day basically: "Rehab, Rehab, Rehab." In all honesty, the surgery and your down period right after the surgery is the easiest part. The hardest part starts when you have to start your rehab and continue going basically for the rest of your life as long as you want to play the game. Once you stop playing, obviously, the importance of rehab is not there because you don't need the importance of the shoulder or whatever injury you have had worked on for your sport. So as long as you keep playing, you got to keep rehabbing.
Q. How long is your morning program and your afternoon program?
GREG NORMAN: Like this morning it takes a good 50 minutes by the time I warm up, stretch, and Pete works on my shoulder and stretches it out. Because there is lots of things I cannot do with it. I need somebody else to grab hold of it and pull it and move it around. I can't do that myself. So I have always got to have somebody there as long as I am playing. Somebody has got to be there in the morning. When I go home tonight after it cools down, he has got to make sure it doesn't get tight in a certain place.
Q. So it is about 50 minutes again after, half hour afterwards?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, good two hours a day, morning and evening. That is not including working out.
Q. Looking back now, when you had to make the decision to have the surgery, you went through all you went through, was there a period of time when it scared you that, hey, maybe this might be it for my playing career?
GREG NORMAN: No. That would have been the case if I didn't have the surgery. I was probably more frustrated and hated the game and not wanting to play or practice because I didn't know the problems that I had in my shoulder. Once I made the decision to have it - I am very emphatic in my mind - if I make my mind up to do something, I am going to do it and I am going to make sure when I do do it, I am going to do the right thing by myself. Once I made the decision, I knew it was going to help my career; not hurt it. Because I knew I wanted to play. Before I had the surgery I had no desire to go out and hit golf balls because I was in so much pain. For the first 20 to 30 swings it, would just -- I would have shooting pains down my arm and started to get -- shot loosened up. If it was a cool, wet day, I wouldn't even want to go out there. From that point of view, I had no desire to go out and play. I think I made a comment a couple years ago that I am not enjoying playing, that was the reason why because, (a): I didn't know what was wrong with my shoulder, and (b): I wasn't enjoying hitting golf balls because of my shoulder. So it freed up all that. Really gave me an unfiltered approach back towards my game and my life because I had more time to sit back and become reflective on things for seven months time.
Q. Were you hesitant to take that first swing?
GREG NORMAN: I was actually looking forward to it because I was looking forward to it to see what it was like to hit a ball without pain in the first couple of swings. Of course it was there because you had scar tissue, stuff like that. Now, I know I can go -- when Pete works on me this morning, I know I can pick a golf club or weighted golf club that I have in my gym and just swing and I am okay. There is the difference. I didn't even loosen up and I can probably go out on the first tee - wouldn't be highly recommended - but I could go out on the first tee and hit a tee shot without going: Oh, you know, and walking down. So from that regard it has been a great success.
Q. Wasn't it about this time last year that those things were starting, the pain and the frustration?
GREG NORMAN: That was before. This was really starting to build up about twelve months ago now. Down in Australia, the end of 1997, early part of '98 that is really when it was building up.
Q. Do you like playing again?
GREG NORMAN: Oh, yeah, I love to play again. I mean, I love being out there. I think that is what I missed the most. I didn't miss the game, but I missed being out there on the golf course playing the competitive level. I didn't miss the game for a reason. I didn't want to say to myself, well, I wish I was out there playing this week when I watch the PGA or whatever tournament I watched on TV because if I was like -- if I felt that in my mind, I would try and short-cut my rehab, and therefore, I might have come out too early because I missed it too much. So really kept my mind off the game of golf and I think that was the right approach to have.
Q. Did you become a better course designer?
GREG NORMAN: I became better at a lot of things than a course designer. It is easy for me to sit here and say what it is like and what people should do and what you shouldn't do. When you have actually done it, been involved with something like your profession, any profession, a lot of these guys have heard this, but when you actually come out of it for six- or seven-month time period and actually study and look at it, it becomes reflective at (a) the game itself, and (b) are you liking the game and (c) what the game has given you and what you are doing in life in general, when you take the time, it is easy to really sit back over seven-month period of time and understand it yourself, but it is not easy to do it in a two- or three-week break because you know you have got to get geared up and back. So I was very lucky in that regard to have that much time to really see the big picture and golf is not the big picture. Golf is part of the big picture. That is why I feel a lot better and enjoy myself a lot more now than when I did twelve months ago.
Q. It is frustrating for an athlete when you undergo surgery and your body doesn't reflect like it used to at certain times during that rehab process. How difficult was that mentally for you when the body wouldn't do the same?
GREG NORMAN: Well, that is understandable because your body is different. When you have the surgery repair basically what they did was they took 20 years off this shoulder. Now they put a 24-year-old shoulder in the left side and this side really needs work done on it in comparison to this. My left shoulder is a lot stronger than my right when I do my workouts because that is the way the surgery was worked. When you think about stuff like that, you go: Well, now I am at a balance, now I got to go back and work on this side, but do I go and get minor work on the right shoulder to match the left shoulder. So, from the point of view of feeling uncomfortable with anything, within the body, no, the only part is knowing that pushing yourself through that scar-tissue-phase of breaking it down, getting it back into a form of mobility - even to this day, it is not 100% mobile compared to my right shoulder; I am almost there - but when you have to push yourself past that point where your body wants to say, whoa, it hurt too much, don't go any further, that is when you have got to keep going.
Q. Any anger involved in it?
GREG NORMAN: No. No. Because I knew the decision was my decision and it was the right decision given all the circumstances. You really had to be in my shoes or be very, very close to me to understand and know it all. But knowing all the circumstances, no, it was a happy decision, not an angry decision.
Q. Talk about balancing the right shoulder now, is that -- it is not something you want to keep doing -- do the doctors recommend that?
GREG NORMAN: I like working out anyway, so I like to know what my body is doing; balance out your body; what muscles are doing what, I like to do that. I think anybody who works out likes to make sure your body is in balance. And it is just a process when I rehab. I focus more on the left side, getting that as strong as I can get it and I did a good job with that, but now got to go out and just balance it out. There is nothing wrong with it. But you see tennis players, right-handed tennis players, their right hand is so much bigger than their left. That is because you use it more often. I just use my - as an example, a pitcher of baseball, something like that, if he is not -- his right arm, right shoulder, whichever, left, whichever way he throws the ball -- John Elway, Dan Marino, you have a look at their right shoulders, much bigger than their left because that is the one they use the most. From our point of view in golf, we need to have it completely rounded out. That is why I am keeping track of what my body strength is doing.
Q. Past few years from the World Golf Championship World Tour concept, how it evolved, the money, the equipment, course design, what do you see for the first part of the next century as far as where golf is going? Using your imagination, what are the next things on the horizon, do you think?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think technology being -- interesting what is going to happen with the USGA and some of the rules that were discussed during the time I wasn't out on the TOUR last year. I only read about them in magazines and newspapers. That issue hasn't been revolved. Be interesting to see what happens with the long putter, long drivers. From the administration of the game, it will be interesting to see how far, how big is big, you know, to see what is going to happen with continuation of TV rights deals; how much money can television keep putting into the game. When you see -- when you look at it because I am involved with the game, you see one minute you buy a unit or a spot on television, was it worth X in 1998; now it has almost doubled in 1999. Can the value of that be there when you look at stuff like that? You see that the golf industry can't keep up paying for that value for a TV spot. A year ago they could. Those are the of type of things I look at from -- to see where it is going to go, the game outside here on the golf course, as tournaments, and players, I see nothing but straight up because the players are getting better and better. Their focus towards the game is just pure business out there on the golf course; that is why you see guys shooting 60s and 61s, 59s around great golf courses. I'd hate to see golf courses change because of the low scores. I don't believe you should change a great golf course for four, five players. I think you should leave the golf course stand the test of time. Equipment is going to improve, yes. Players are going to improve, yes. But changing the characteristics of the playability of a golf course, I don't necessarily agree there because somebody goes out and shoots like I did around the Blue Monster, these golf course have a way of getting even with us. So those are -- they are the things that I would like to see what is going to happen in the next couple of years and what I like to see not happen in the next couple of years.
Q. Are you driven to be No. 1, if not, what is driving you now?
GREG NORMAN: I have never been driven to being No. 1. I have been very honest about that for many, many years. I am driven to be a competitor, and if you are a competitor on the golf course and your performance on the golf course is good enough, everything else takes care of itself. You eventually get up to where you are saying. I am a driven individual from that regard. I am not a driven individual to scope out one thing and say: I want to be the best player in the world. That is not my style. I drive myself because I love to do the things that I love to do; that is compete to play the game of golf; compete against some of the best players in the world, when I come out and play and compete against the golf course. I do the same when I am off the golf course. I am very driven in business and I approach business like I do a golf tournament. I do my practice rounds. I do my due diligence. I weigh out my options. I see whether it is the right move to make or not right move to make; same as you do with a golf course with shots. You are going to hit at the end of the day; you come down to the final day, if you have got a chance to win the tournament you go, you do it. If you have a chance on a business deal, you go, you do it. It is very much the same. So my competitive approach towards business basically comes from my competitive approach to what I do on the golf course.
Q. With all that money in golf right now, is it possible that the large money tournaments will be the main focus of players, they will decide to go places because of huge purses and perhaps leave the smaller tournaments which is hurting the fields and hurting the overall Tour?
GREG NORMAN: That would be a delicate balance that is something the PGA TOUR is going to have to keep an eye out on. You know, last week and the two tournaments, end of the season, THE TOUR Championship and I think, I don't know what they call the one in Valderama, you guys might know, but those two, back-to-backs, really, there is four tournaments play in and play well, the other eleven that you play in, if you play 15, really doesn't make much difference from a monetary standpoint. But I think they are trying to keep the balance, like this tournament increased in prize money. Most of the other tournaments on the TOUR increased in prize money. So I think they are trying to keep that balance there, but they are also trying to give the players incentive to get into a World Golf Championship or get into a Tours Championship and incenticize the guys to get on the Ryder Cup. Once you are on that team, you get into another tournament; that is your pay back: Thank you for being on the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, here you go, you can go play in the tournament in the World Series. They are trying to balance it out the best they can. I don't think you are ever going to get it where every tournament is exactly the same prize money. What I like to see happen now where the major championships step up to the plate and get balanced out because they are the ones, I think, are lagging a little bit compared to the regular Tour events we play for.
Q. Almost like a red flag now to the TOUR with the growth now, now is the time to address this before it gets out of hand or before it gets to be a problem?
GREG NORMAN: I bet the red flags are already up in their offices - they probably don't talk about it - if they are smart enough. They have got a lot of good heads on their shoulders in there, so somebody has got to sit there and bring that to their attention. They got to go, okay, let us address this; what it is going to be like three, five years down the road. I hope they are doing it. I think they are.
Q. 44 now, coming off the shoulder injury, do you want to be out here if you can't compete at the highest level if you don't win, I mean?
GREG NORMAN: No. I don't want to be out here. I don't want to take up the space when somebody else who is 21, 20, could be out here playing. I think that is -- the only person that knows that is like the John Elway, he is the only one who knows if he is going to play or not. The athlete is the only one that knows when he is going to retire or not. It is in here (pointing to his heart) that tells you. I don't want to sit around and just come out here and walk on the green grass just to take up space and breath up oxygen.
Q. How much longer will you go? I mean, if you start winning, obviously, then you know you are back all the way, but when will frustration set in?
GREG NORMAN: Well -- I don't know. Frustration may never set in. I can't answer that question because it is very difficult to say, okay, I am going to be frustrated the end of this year so that is it. End of this year I could be very, very happy. So you will only know when the time comes when you say this is it. And, fortunately, for me, I think I sat in this very room back in 1993 and said what my 7-year plan was and I have been very meticulous and very lucky in the way I have implemented that and it is perfectly in place, so, that decision, if I have to make that decision, I can basically step up the golf course and step right on the carpet, I am going to be okay.
Q. Will you play a full schedule this year?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I have. I am scheduled in all the tournaments that I normally would play in.
Q. Going to play what, like 15 here?
GREG NORMAN: 15 probably, 18 all up. I know my doctor doesn't want me to play more than two tournaments a month. He would like to see me keep that balance forever and a day, so he said 18 tournaments a year would be maximum he would like to see me play in. Basically because it is new surgery and first year afterwards. He has got to reevaluate that at the end of this year after playing a full schedule.
Q. To see how much wear and tear?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, he will go back and review my shoulder, no doubt, the end of this year in December, and say, okay, keep it the same, or you can go up a couple next year, I think it has been great for you playing this much. I think you might be able to up it one or two, if you want to go play 20, you can. This year is really the evaluation year on it.
Q. 18 is your max?
GREG NORMAN: 18 is the number I have got down on my schedule right now.
Q. You were talking about changing the great courses from four, five players, would you consider changes they made at Augusta National that they shouldn't have made those?
GREG NORMAN: I haven't seen them. So I have got to go have a look at them. But, again, Augusta National has so much history. There have been long hitters played at Augusta National before, too. I have heard what they have done - I have only heard. I haven't seen what they have done to the second toughest -- thing about the second is the second shot, whether it is a 7-iron or pitching wedge, for your third shot, it is still a tough shot. But Jack Nicklaus used to boom that drive down there and hit 8-irons into that green. Number of times I played practice rounds with him there he used to tell me 8-irons into No. 13. They didn't change the golf course then in those days. So, you know, I don't like to see that because I like to step up on the tee and say, well, Gene Sarazen did this or Byron Nelson did this, and feel the same piece of nostalgia and history under your feet as what those guys played on. And when you change it, you change all that. I guess that is the decision that people make even at the Blue Monster here and what I have seen down in Australia some of our classic golf courses of the world that we ever play on down in Melbourne and they are changing those golf courses too for that reason. It just blows my mind. I just don't understand it. I am a bit more of a, I guess, traditionalist. I don't like to see that stuff happen.
Q. As a designer, if someone called you in to work on one of the classic courses, would you turn the job down?
GREG NORMAN: Yes, I have actually done that. I don't do renovations because I think you get yourself caught. You are in an -- at least when you do the golf course people either are going to like it or not. When you redo a golf course, you have got a complete division straight away. There were people wanted it done and people that didn't. No matter how good a job you do to the golf course, you have got an immediate division. So I have turned down a lot of jobs, renovations like the White Course over here which we are going to do a press announcement on Friday, they wanted to renovate it. I said: I won't renovate it. So they said, let's just blow it up and start all over again. Very happy to do that because end of the day, once you start renovating, you start opening up that closet door, there is a lot of ghosts in there underneath the grounds so you have got to go redo irrigation, new drainage, new surface, might as well do the golf course over anyway. It is going to cost the same amount of money if you are going to do all 18 holes. So they said: Let's go redo the whole thing. I really look forward to doing that one because of what is over here, this means a lot to me, this development.
Q. How good was that seven months off for your mental health or whatever you want to call it? Did you ever think of maybe I should have done this sooner in taking a long break?
GREG NORMAN: Absolutely. Laura wanted me to do it in 1995. She said: Why don't you take a year off. You don't want to take a year off when you are doing well. Why take -- that is the pity of it. We can all sit here and say, well, why didn't we do that, why don't -- when we do it for certain reasons, whether you are faced into doing it, you go, wow, why didn't I do that when I should have done it. Maybe I should have been -- I would have been a little bit more refreshed, maybe I wouldn't have been in this position. I highly recommend everybody getting away from whatever they do, take time for themselves, when you do that, you see life totally different. That is the way I do it now.
Q. You have so many interests you have said before that you can get out of golf, do your other stuff, not miss it at all. In that seven months, say, this is great, I don't need to go back to golf or was the challenge to come back?
GREG NORMAN: It was too good to resist because like I said before, I am a competitor. It was basically a challenge to get myself back physically and mentally and the ability of hitting the golf ball from tee-to-green to the way I know I can hit it. So that was my ultimate challenge. But that didn't say that I didn't have a lot of pressure from a lot of people to say, well, why go back. Why do you need to go back. The end of the day I am the only one who can make that decision. The decision was because I still love to play.
Q. Who said why -- I mean, was Laura pushing --
GREG NORMAN: My daughter definitely wanted me to stay home because again you have got to understand, my kids never experienced their dad being home for a summer. They have always gone to the U.S. Open, the British Open PGA. Can you imagine a teenager doing that, going to that? That is boring to a teenager, that is boring, the golf. Dad, that is your job, actually going to tournaments for their summer vacation, I couldn't think of anything worse. Last summer I didn't have to do that. So we did a lot of things that you all would do with your friends and family on your vacation. It was unbelievable. Not taking a week here and whipping over here somewhere for a quick vacation, taking a three month time when they are out of school and doing the things, flying to New York to go see a play, if they wanted to see a play, or just, I mean, right across the board anything they basically wanted to do, we did as a family. That was the first time in 16 years. So you can understand my daughter saying, dad, I loved you being at home, do you have to go back and play. Do you have to do this. They understand why, absolutely, because it is my job and my job has given them the comfort of life that they enjoy. But at the same time, they enjoy me being at home and that is where you grow up. That is where you learn so much more about yourself when you sit down and listen to your kids and talk to them in that seven-month timeframe. That is why I think it is great for everybody.
Q. On your time off, did you think about your place -- I guess you have had a very long rewarding career, but you know, do you think about what is left, what I still have to do? Where are you at?
GREG NORMAN: Right now I am not -- I am under zero pressure. To me I can stop now and everything I have done in the game of golf, good or bad, has been great. Everything I have done in the game of golf has been for the good of the game of golf. I haven't done anything as far as I can see right up to this point whether it was detrimental to the game so I can step out of that with a huge good feeling within myself saying that I have given a lot to the game, the game has given a lot to me. Yes, I haven't achieved everything that I wanted to achieve because I gather 99.9% in the world feel the same way about what they do in their lives, so I can say it has been great to me. So when I go back and play now I don't go back to say, prove -- well this guy was wrong because the article he wrote about me - so I am going to go out and prove him wrong, which we all do when somebody says something negative. But you put your back up and say: I am not like that, that is not true, I am going to go out and prove him wrong or talk to him and say they are not right. I am not going do that anymore. I just want to do the things that I want to do and enjoy them the best I can enjoy them. That is why I say I have zero pressure on myself. Pressure is out there, the pressure because I want to compete. That is why I said before, I have got a totally unfiltered approach towards my game and towards my life now because I have had a chance to get rid of it all.
Q. Who do you consider to be the four or five best golfers playing today and how important is it for you to be considered among them?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I wouldn't put myself up there because I haven't played at a competitive level. I would definitely say, you know, the two, David and Tiger. Who is the best out of those two? The track record that I have seen I would nod to David because of his consistency. That is no slight on Tiger because, and I think correct me if I am wrong, David has won 9 out of 30 tournaments that he has played in. That is unbelievable strength right there. So when you see numbers like that, I would have to give him the nod on, but it is close. Then you got Ernie Els, he is right there. Who else? Playing well, guys?
Q. Mark O'Meara?
GREG NORMAN: Well, Mark O'Meara -- Mark's going to have to interesting year. It will be interesting how he handles '99 compared to '98. But I am sure he is going to come up. He is a great player. I am sure he is going to come up and handle it to the level that we all know he can.
Q. Is it important that the TOUR have a rivalry such as?
GREG NORMAN: Absolutely. Several sports has a rivalry. You need it. It is great for you guys. It is great for us. People like to watch. People like to read about it. Sport needs rivalries whether it is any sport. You look at them all, there is always some bit of rivalry people like to matchup between the Miami Heat or the New York Knicks. They love that type of stuff. People like to read it, like to talk about it and it lasts forever.
Q. When you see Nick Faldo going through what he is going through now, what do you think?
GREG NORMAN: I really feel for him. There is no worse feeling than being a great player hitting down the bottom. I have been there. There is not a player who hasn't been in the top who hasn't gone down to the bottom. It is an awful, awful feeling. We all sympathize and empathize with him because you want to see him get out, whether you like the guys or not, whether you are a big supporter of them or not, you just don't like seeing a great player like Seve Ballesteros, we hate seeing him down and out. We want to see guys like that. It is great for the game for those guys to be out playing well. So, we all hope that they get their act together and get back to the level that they know that they can play in. I have got to go to the tee. I'd rather sit here and talk for a couple hours.
Q. You just talked about rivalry. I suppose is it fair to say there's quite a rivalry between you and Nick?
GREG NORMAN: Absolutely. We had a great rivalry. More many, many -- oh, Ernie is here. (Ernie Els enters press room). We had a great rivalry. Ernie will probably say the same thing about that, and it is important where you can go up and you like to be head-to-head against somebody even though you're not -- you like to be because when you step it up in the tournament -- one of the greatest tournaments I played was with Nick Faldo at the Australia Masters couple years ago and we played hard together against each other for 36 holes over the weekend. It didn't matter whether it was Australia Masters, exhibition match or the U.S. Masters, we would have been that intense on any event. Playing a practice round, we were so into that tournament, the two of us playing against each other, it was great. St. Andrews was the same in 1990, so, I can remember some great moments out of my career because of the rivalry that was there between Faldo and myself.
Q. Does that make it sadder for you that Nick is --
GREG NORMAN: I personally hate to see that happen to anybody. I hate it because what is it, it is in your head or your heart or your body physically. I mean, I hate to see that. I think it is a solution that the individual has to figure out for himself, but I don't want to see people go through pain like that because you know he is hurting. You just know it because he is a competitor. He will figure it out. Seve, I don't know about Seve now. I don't see much of that, so, I think he might have resigned himself to the fact that he is not coming back. Finch, another great player. Just go take him out on the driving range, he will hit frozen ropes all day, long, perfect, perfect. Get him out on the golf course, he hits it like you. (laughter).
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