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May 30, 2001

Greg Norman


JAMES CRAMER: I'd like to welcome 1990 and 1995 Memorial champion Greg Norman for a pretournament interview. Before we get started, we have a special guest announcer who would like to make an announcement, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, James. Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to put out a press release on this, but since I am here and Greg is here to do his interview, we thought we'd make the announcement in person. You'll get a press release this afternoon. And that is to announce that Greg has been elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame and will be inducted this fall. I think that any of you, and all of you are familiar with Greg's record and the fact Greg won 18 times on this Tour; won two British Opens, won the Vardon Trophy three times, won the Byron Nelson trophy, I think five times, won the Arnold Palmer Award three times, won the Player of the Year. Has played in every Presidents Cup. This is a marvelous competitive record and probably was the leading reason why Greg garnered the highest percentage of votes of any one that has been inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame. He received an excess of 80 percent of the ballots, which is a tribute to his competitive record. In addition to that, from a PGA TOUR perspective, not to diminish his great competitive record, the fact that Greg has been the personality, the showman, and the sportsman that he has been over the last couple of decades has done an enormous amount of good to grow the PGA TOUR. And Greg is one of the key individuals that have got the PGA TOUR to where it is today. So on behalf of the Tour, I and all of the sponsors, the charities, and the players, I'd like to commend Greg for his record, the last two decades of performance, and congratulations on being elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame. You will be getting a press release later this afternoon, and the induction ceremony will be conducted Sunday, November 11th at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida. Greg, congratulations.

GREG NORMAN: Thank you, Tim.

JAMES CRAMER: That's a good starting point. Why don't we begin by your reaction to this news.

GREG NORMAN: Obviously, James, it's a great honor because the game of golf has been played for over centuries. To this it's only been in the low eighties that people have been inducted to the Golf Hall of Fame, it's a great honor. To me, it's a recognition of the time and effort and the sacrifices you've got to make over your career to achieve the levels you want to achieve. We never really reach the top of the mountain we want to reach. But at the end of the day, that's why the dreams are a blue print of reality, and my dream is always to be the best I can possibly be in the game of golf. And along the way I've been involved with , not in golf on the golf course, but sometimes the direction of golf, off the golf course. And to me that's just as integral a part as anything else. And to be able to hear the words that Tim mentioned about the involvement of the PGA TOUR, I've cherished every moment of it. I've enjoyed it even though sometimes people don't agree with what you say. And I don't agree with what other people say. I think that's an equation of a growing enterprise, because you need people to feel and express their feelings. From my point of view, extremely proud. I look forward to the fall time, when the induction takes place.

Q. Greg, by all accounts when you took up the game, you are a very quick study and accelerated in a rapid fashion. Do you remember a point when you realized you could take the game to a level beyond just playing; make a Hall of Fame career?

GREG NORMAN: My entire life, I never really thought of a Hall of Fame position. Never did. Because to me, my whole focus in the game of golf was to be the best I could possibly be. I never really tired of trying to be the number one player in the world. I never really tired of trying to be in the Hall of Fame. All those things basically take care of themselves if you do what you love to do the most, and that is perform on the golf course. Never once, the only time I felt that I could be successful out of a game was when I went from the 27 handicap to scratch in 18 months. Then that's when I thought, "Okay, I might have a chance at this game."

Q. Again, there's a lot of sacrifices to go in.

GREG NORMAN: This recognition, obviously for my family and the kids, who over the last 20-odd years think have seen the changes take place, and myself, the sacrifices I've had to give away from the family, yeah, this honor just as much goes to them as it does to me.

Q. The Hall of Fame would like a few artifacts. Do you have something to donate?

GREG NORMAN: I figured I'd put in a plane, a yacht, a helicopter. What else do you need in there? (Laughter.) I haven't put any thought in it. I started discussing it yesterday with the people in my office when they heard about it. We sent out a bit of a bulletin e-mail to everybody. And that's when you start talking about it. I know fall is a long way off, but preparation is preparation. You want to make sure that come November the 11th, we'll be able to go. So from whatever I need -- I'll find something that will go in there for sure.

Q. Greg, you've had a lot of success, made a lot of money, what keeps you going? You could say "I've had it" right now. But what keeps you going?

GREG NORMAN: I think a more competitive drive. I still love to play the game of golf even though my performances over the last couple of months have not indicated that. If I really felt that the indicators were showing that, I would get out for those reasons. I still love to practice. Yesterday, on Memorial Day, I was out playing golf, practicing instead of having a barbecue at home. Getting ready for this tournament, sometimes you wonder what you're doing hitting balls until lunchtime, and working out in the afternoon. I still cherish every moment of that. I hope it never disappears, quite honestly. I don't think I would ever give up the game completely. I think I would always be in the game in some way, shape, or form, whether it's participating in a few events a year, whether it's participating in more than that. I get very enamored in seeing the direction of the game of golf now, how it's really going to pan out in seven to ten years' time, where it's going to be in 15 to 20 years time, and start preparing. I some way hope I'm going to be involved with it. I truly love the game on a global basis, and America's been a great place for me to learn a lot of things. My business really was founded here in the United States. I want it keep my oar in the water with golf and Green Grass Products as much as I possibly can.

Q. Your play of late, self-diagnosis of what's happening in your game and what you need to do --?

GREG NORMAN: I know what I need to do. I need to play a little better. It's an interesting analyzation of you can go back to when you're a kid trying to break through. Now, because you have so many fresh memories in your mind what you know you can do and how to perform and when you hit golf balls in the driving range, you know how well you can hit the golf ball. It's matter of trying to break through that barrier again. I think every person goes through it. Every athlete goes through that, because it's so fresh in your mind, strong in your mind. You get a little more frustrated and get a little more impatient with the golf course and yourself. I think that's probably the only key for me to really go. That's why I still believe I can win because I know how good I can hit the golf ball and how well I'm hitting the golf ball now. With that in mind I know I have to work on it a little stronger mentally. That's the only key I can figure out to fit in the door and be correct. I work on that on a daily basis. Try to work on that on the golf course. But impatience is probably the thing that's holding me back when I get out there in tournament play right now.

Q. Patience from shot to shot or patience in overall progress?

GREG NORMAN: Expectations. The shot to shot is not a problem. It's the expectations of "Why did I hit the ball pretty good today and I walked off the golf course 3-over par?" I'm leaving a lot of strokes on the golf course for reasons when you're playing well you never do. You're always scratching and clawing when you're playing poorly and when you're playing great, the 68s turn to 62s and 63s. That's the difference. That's all it is. I've only experienced it one other time in my life when I went through that slump a couple of years. It's a horrible feeling because you know you can do it but you got to get yourself through the barrier, whatever it is. That's why you keep coming out and playing and keep pushing. If I didn't feel like I could do it-- I don't like this anxiety attack that I get every now and then. I can enjoy myself doing a lot more things.

Q. Knowing that you were back home working hard this past week I'm sure the next time you step up and do win a tournament, how does that change your thinking going forward versus right now, speaking of the barriers fresh in your mind?

GREG NORMAN: Obviously that's the goal I've set for myself over the last couple months. You always want to achieve the goals you put out in front of yourself. Once I achieve that goal, I'll probably set high goals for myself. You know, one goal leads to another. As long as I can achieve that first one, obviously, there's a time period involved. Is it going to extend out to the Senior Tour? Is it going to stop in the year's time? Is it going to stop if you win a major, the British Open or a PGA Championship? Who knows? As long as you have the goal set for yourself and keep trying to attain that goal, I'm going to keep working hard. It's pretty hard to answer what I'll do after that. Knowing my nature and character, I'll probably be trying to push myself that much harder again.

Q. One other flashback question if I might. Talk about the process of meeting Nicklaus over in Australia and coming here in '77 I believe for your first tournament in the U.S. what was that like?

GREG NORMAN: I can remember like I'm sitting here now that I cold-topped my tee shot the very first day playing with Jack Nicklaus. I hit it just 30 yards off the tee. Probably one of the most embarrassing times I've had, because first time I met Jack was at a practice round, I mean walking from the driving to the clubhouse. He was coming down, I was going up. We were introduced and then I found out I was playing with him the first two rounds. You know, it's hard to explain how you feel when you look up to somebody, and you try and -- they've basically been your idol since I started playing the game. I was extremely nervous. I don't think I've ever been that nervous in any situation ever before in my life. The shot indicated that. As I sit here today and I got off the airplane, and I said this is my 24th year since I first came here. I said 25 years next year is a long period of time. I read Jack's article in U.S. Today about his family, and I thought no matter what Jack's done on the golf course, I actually admire him even more take a lot of what he's done with his family more I have than in the game of golf. He said it so perfectly in the article today. I thought here's a true indication of the man himself. He put his family basically first, which you should do in this game. Without your family and support, you don't have it. I followed in those footsteps at the same time trying to maintain the career on one side which takes you away 40 weeks a year I used to travel family life and how to balance that. It's an extremely important support team you need over there. I'd admired him on the golf course, but I've admired him more off the golf course for the way he conducted his family life.

Q. Where was that first round with Jack?

GREG NORMAN: That was the Australian Golf Club in Sydney in 1976.

Q. Australian Open?

GREG NORMAN: It was the Australian Open, that's correct.

Q. The Commissioner mentioned your many victories, didn't mention your international record. 60, 70 wins. Were there a few of those that had special meaning to you?

GREG NORMAN: No question, my very first one. 1976 West Lakes Classic. I didn't have -- fortunately for me, I got kind of like a sponsorship gift from a shoe manufacturer from Australia to go down and play in the tournament. I didn't have a whole lot of cash. When I won the golf tournament I believe it was 7,000 Australian dollars if my memory was right. I thought I was the richest guy in the world. I won it fairly convincingly over the (inaudible) -- all of our icons of Australian golf. And I think I had a 10-shot lead after three rounds. To me that was the catalyst that I needed, that very first win. It was my 4th or 5th PGA TOUR event that I played in. So I got off to a very fast start at a very young age. That gave me a lot of confidence. You can see the same thing with Tiger Woods right now. You got a kid with a lot of confidence and a game that goes with it. He's going to steamroll anybody till he gets to where he really wants to go, and nobody knows where that is.

Q. What was the most important about that? The fact you won by a large amount, the guys you beat, or that you could win, period?

GREG NORMAN: The most important thing for me when I was standing in the back of the clubhouse, and after the tournament was over, I was very much an introverted guy then. I didn't say much. I was really at a loss in the world because I never had been in the position. I never knew what was expected. Nobody took me by the hand and said "If this happens, this is what you got to do, how you got to act." I remember I was sitting back in the corner with my good buddy, still good buddy Brian Smith and I'm trying to hide behind plant because I'm so embarrassed, didn't know how to behave. I was talking to Smithy about it. I said "Smithy, if I want to go on and keep winning, I got to get out of this feeling I'm in." That was right there basically the comment I said to myself and Smithy. That's when I turned from an introvert to being a little more accepting to being in a position you want to be in if you want to be successful in sport.

Q. Frank Lickliter coming off his first PGA TOUR win, how do you think that will affect him? How did you perform the week after you won?

GREG NORMAN: I think the was the Australian Open, the next week. I cold-topped my tee shot. (Laughter.). I don't think Frank's going to do it this week. I think nowadays because Frank has played a lot more tournament golf, he'll probably take this as a huge confidence factor for him. If he feels comfortable and likes this golf course, I imagine he would be a threat. If he went to a golf course he wasn't comfortable, he would maybe be going off the euphoric feeling of winning and getting a little bit of a letdown. I think most guys nowadays are mentally prepared for that. Mentally prepared from that high high you get from winning the first time to moving on. That's done. Move on. You miss the cut, move on. Next week's a new week. Next shot's the next shot. I'm sure he's mentally prepared in his mind to come here and play well. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he did extremely well here.

Q. Very busy man off the golf course as well as on. What business interests of yours do you see maybe developing more as you start to back away maybe from your competitive playing days?

GREG NORMAN: I think the three things that intrigue me the most from the game plan I set out in 1993, golf course design, the clothing line, Greg Norman Collection, and Medalist Development which is a development company I've formed with the bank in Australia. Those three to me are probably going to be the flagship of my battle wagon as time goes on. They have established themselves tremendously well right now. In a short period of time, we've exceeded our expectations in all of them. As I basically wane out of playing golf, I can concentrate more on that. It's amazing the little extra time whether one week or month you put into a business how much more productive it becomes. At the end of the day, there your business is. Your presence at all times is, you can see it pick up. That's why I get a little torn at times, because we have a situation like right now we do in business, where we're right on the threshold we are of doing something we're excited about, but you're away for a week and now you get your e-mails and phone conversations, but it's not the same as sitting right there and hearing how enthusiastic and excited. And obviously there's times when there's a little bit of a negative slant on it and you have to put that fire out. There's only one person who can do that, and that's the guy who runs the whole thing. I enjoy those challenges tremendously. Those three are really the ones I think for the next 25 years are my concern, really transcend the game of golf. I don't have to keep playing golf for all those three to be afloat.

Q. Your wine business?

GREG NORMAN: The wine business is self-sustaining business. I had very little to do with it. All I do is the wine tasting, get drunk, and that's it. (Laughter) I'm all right.

Q. Phil Mickelson is not here, Duval is not here, Davis is not here. Which seems unusual giving the placement of this tournament in the calendar proximity to the Open. Can you speak how this tournament been viewed in the past on Tour? Our impression, Jack meets every player's wants and desires here and this is a tournament guys put on their calendar to start with. Seems unusual those three would not be here. Venture a guess to why and has the view of this tournament changed for whatever reason?

GREG NORMAN: I wouldn't say the view of the tournament has changed at all. I think the players still regard this as very, very high on their priority list. Probably in the top 6 or 7 events of the year. You got your 4 majors, you probably have the TPC, Memorial. Colonial is one, extremely popular. The INTERNATIONAL is extremely popular. Those events, you know Memorial is always going to be there on your schedule when you sit down, August of the year before to plan out where you're going to be till June. There might be some injuries. Phil's played a lot of golf I believe. Yeah he's played maybe two, three, four weeks in a row. He's had a lot of interesting situations on the golf course, expectations for him. He probably just needs to, you know, catch his breath before the U.S. Open. He knows he's going to go in there with high expectations not only from himself but also from the media and all the fans around the world. Same with David coming off the Masters, he probably wants to catch his breath. Neither one of them won a major championship so probably preparing themselves physically just as much mentally for what's going to happen in the U.S. Open. And Davis, you know, I don't know whether Davis has an injury. He's got an injury, has he? So he obviously wants to play in the U.S. Open. I played a practice round with Davis in New Orleans and he pulled up short after six holes. We got to talking about his problems, obviously lingering and he needs time to recover.

Q. You discussed your business enterprises and you touched on earlier the importance of family. You're approaching Senior Tour eligibility. How do you feel playing the SENIOR TOUR? Do the other two things you talked about family and business preclude you from playing much. Is that something you want to do or have you thought about it yet?

GREG NORMAN: I've always been consistent in this response about the SENIOR TOUR. I will never, and "never" is a strong word. I would never play a full schedule on the SENIOR TOUR. I could envisage myself playing a select number of events out there. I touched on the question, as long as I stay competitive and I still want to play the game, I still want to play the game. I'd like to play some SENIOR TOUR events, no question, because it would still intrigue me. But I won't go out there, play 20, 30, or be a, who's the gentleman that plays every week? Quigley. Every week 152 tournaments or something. I don't want to be that guy, I promise you that. With regard to the family, I'm in a very interesting stage in my life. That's why I read the article with Jack Nicklaus with a lot of passion. One of my children is going off to college. He graduated last week. Yeah, you plan 18 months out and, boom, all of a sudden one's gone, you've got one left and in a couple years, he's gone. All of a sudden your nest is empty. You've just got your wife and yourself and things will change then. It's very difficult to tell how I'm going to react to that. I know what we'd like to do, that's for sure. So there might be a time to catch up on lost time, you never know. But it's interesting to see how your life changes as decades go by and as time goes by. The next couple months, when one of them goes off to college, it's another chapter in my life that I've never experienced before.

Q. Maybe nobody involved has endured more (Inaudible.) Been a few years now since any of that has happened. Fate, life? How do you look back at it all?

GREG NORMAN: Well, you got to be philosophical about it all, the game of golf is a sport. You're competing against other individuals who want to win. They're trying to execute the best shot they possibly can to complete the job in hand. You know, when you think of some of the shots that go by, sure, I do. I reflect on some of that situation, and why did it happen to me? Everybody can say why me? "Why did it happen to me?" But at the end of the day if you're philosophical about it, do you believe in destiny? Do you believe in fate? You know again you can twist your head around and around and around. But at the end of the day, I feel that my life has been extremely well balanced. What happens to me on the golf course doesn't really dictate the fate of what happens off the golf course. Sometimes when a situation like that happens, it gets you a little bit more determined to be that much more determined off the golf course. And that's a case study that I play with within myself really, where I challenge myself saying well, the game of golf is done with. You've had this adversity over here. Let's turn that adversity over here into something that is much more of a higher note off the golf course. And I think I've done that very well since 1993. And the beautiful part about it, nobody gets to see it, because it's private. It's your private world. That's the tough part of being an athlete or a celebrity. You're too exposed I think. I would never exchange it for anything, for my past, no matter what, if I had to go do it over again exactly the same things happen to me, it wouldn't bother me, but at the same time I enjoy the other side of the world where you're not under the microscope and not scrutinized. And situations that do happen to you are sometimes beyond your control, but you get the blame. That's how philosophical you become. In my private world of business it's fantastic because there's only about four people who know. And whatever anybody wants to assume what's going on out there or whatever release we put out, that's the great part about it. You feel a little bit more relaxed and at ease with it because you don't have to feel you're defending yourself all the time. It's been an interesting time for me because I've learned a lot about myself. I've learned there's parts of me I never even knew i.e. after 1996, because I was such a determined individual in life, I couldn't believe how my whole world changed by accepting the way the rest of the people were because I was so ingrained in golf, and golf is this and this is the way it's supposed to be. Once I stepped out of that little cubical. I saw it was a different world out there. I enjoy it tremendously.

JAMES CRAMER: Greg, once again, congratulations and thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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