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February 18, 2009

Greg Norman


GORDON SIMPSON: Greg, welcome back to The Vines and the Johnnie Walker Classic. Good to be home?
GREG NORMAN: Yes, it's always great to come home. I've played here a couple of times and played well here a couple of times ann at the end of the day it's good to come back and play this type of course in this condition in front of a home crowd.
GORDON SIMPSON: How is the game - good, rusty of somewhere in between?
GREG NORMAN: I've got to say I never feel good about it unless you are playing 24/7. All in all I'm doing pretty good. I've started my routine and started practising. Bit of a way to go but I can't complain.
GORDON SIMPSON: You had some great highs last year at Birkdale and maybe the chance of some more at Augusta and Turnberry in 2009?
GREG NORMAN; The Masters are coming up pretty quickly in the next four to five weeks and not doing much about that and just getting ready for July. Yeah, there's a lot of golf to be played.

Q. Would you be surprised if you won this week?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I probably would be. I haven't played a lot of golf. You know, it's a little bit different when you get out there and practice and have to do the right things under the gun. I just hope I do well enough to give myself a chance. If that's the case, that would be great.
You know, I really haven't played a lot of golf since the Merrill Lynch Shootout. I haven't played in many tournaments before that up until July, so really tournament play, it doesn't do much for me.

Q. Do you feel born again? The Champions Tour doesn't really mean much to you; do you feel born again as --
GREG NORMAN: As a golfer? As a golfer, okay. Just want to make sure, if you twist your questions around, you'll get a twisted answer (laughter).
No, I just -- no, I don't think so. I just enjoy doing what I'm doing right now to give myself a bit more opportunity to practice and what I've done over the last three years, four years; at the same time, you need to put a little extra effort into it.
I'm still strong and still very healthy and still very flexible, and that helps me get away with a lot. I've kept my off-course conditioning very, very well since '91, so all I have to do is just fine-tune my golf swing. It does get a little frustrating because I don't really want to go out there and hit golf balls ten hours a day. But at times when I do get out there and practice, I practice very well and it's very rewarding.
Obviously what happened last July is even more rewarding still. I've always been a believer: Age is really not anything but a number, as long as you keep yourself in good shape; like you, you've kept yourself in good shape over the last few years and I've seen you over a period of time, as the athlete that you maintain yourself. That's the way that I've kept myself, just like you have.

Q. And hard work -- you're certainly not a ceremonial golfer.
GREG NORMAN: Well, yes, I would say the events of last year really made a lot of people sit up, especially the people over 50 years old. I've probably got more recognition and accolades from people from e-mails and just people walking around the streets just saying, you know, doing something for the 15-year-olds.
It really rejuvenates a lot of people many ways saying that people can do it, and I can do it as well as what's in my world and it putts everything in perspective. It also shows to the younger generation that if you're 22, 23, never give up on your dreams. You can still give yourself opportunities if you stay strong in your mind and if you want to believe in yourself. I think you guys know, the ones who have been around long enough know me well enough today that if I come and play a golf tournament, I'm not just going to come and play. I'm going to try to give it my best shot. Sometimes you miss the cut and sometimes you do very well. As long as you know, you're giving it 1 '01 percent, which I'll do this week.

Q. Must be something you think about Augusta quite often these days --
GREG NORMAN: No, not at all. Really it's very true. I always stay focused in what's happening right now. If I start thinking about what's going to happen in five weeks from now or six weeks, then I'm not preparing myself.
You know, at the time, just they were doing the best they could under the circumstances to give myself a chance of winning. When it's over and done with and you look back on it and you reflect, you say, geez, I'm sad I didn't win that golf tournament, whether it's the British Open or whether it's other golf tournaments. Last year's British Open was no different. There were opportunities there that I really needed to capitalise on and I didn't, for whatever reason, and you know, it was a performance, was it a good performance, on a scale of 1 to 10, I give it an 8.5 but 8.5 sometimes win and sometimes you can win with a 6.5.
I came away from the golf course satisfied, but at the same time disappointed that I didn't win the golf tournament. It was the toughest week I've ever played for a straight seven days of practice and playing and all that. It was brutal on the mind, as well as the golf swing. The end of the day, it was very, very tiring to play.
But that week, you know, I said to Chrissy going there, you probably heard this in the press conference before. She's done her slams and she knows what to experience going into a tennis slam and she never experienced what our majors are like, and even though our majors are all different, just like theirs from playing hard court to grass, ours is a little different because of the type of tournaments we play.
And like any athlete, you can sit back and watch somebody on television, and you don't really get what it's all about until you are actually there at the stadium on a Sunday at a final and on the final round of the British Open, and for one athlete to see another one doing it, really putts everything into perspective.
And I really enjoyed it for her, just as much as I did for myself, because you never would think you put yourself in a situation where, you know, your mid-life, you get to experience something you've never experienced before. So that was neat, as well.

Q. And when I spoke to Jarrod yesterday -- he said this is a golf course you don't have to power your way around and you can be strategic; how would you describe this course?
GREG NORMAN: It not a bad golf course; it's not a great golf course. The bunkers make it very awkward to play, and Jarrod is absolutely correct. Some of the bunker configurations and the layout really take away some of your shot lines that you really normally like to play on certain holes.
But it's more of a golf course designed to make you play defensive than it is any other way, just because of the tee shot strategy and a lot of it has to do with the wind. The wind comes from a certain direction and you can blow it into most of the bunkers and it really doesn't come into play but if it's the southeastern wind, it's an awkward golf course to play. Tee shots are tough. If you drive the golf ball well around here, it doesn't mean to say, if you hit the greens, you have to make the birdies because the greens are so huge and with a lot of undulation on them, you have to be very, very careful where you put them on the greens, as well.
Like I said, it's a defensive type of golf course, you really can't just get up there and whale away at it and say, I'm going to go play this golf course extremely aggressively. You've just got to be very careful.

Q. We spoke to Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas before and they spoke quite glowingly about you, when you do play tournaments and your role; do you see passing on some of your experience to some of the younger players?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think that's the responsibility of every senior golfer, whether you're 35 and talking to an 18-year-old. If somebody asks you and asks you a question -- I relate it to what I did as a kid. I figured the only way I could get better was to tap into the minds of the players a generation before you.
And the more information I could gather and take bits of information and put into my recipe, whatever recipe that is for success, the better person you are going to become either on or off the golf course. I learned a lot from players on how they conduct themselves and how they win and how they lose, not necessarily how they perform on the golf course.
I've also learned from the guys how they perform on the golf course, and I would encourage every young player if you want to get better in the game: Ask questions, and never think you have all the answers. If you think you have all the answers, you're never going to get very far because you've got to get tapped out.
Keep striving and keep asking, okay, what did you do to achieve. Every generation is different and the game of golf is different today from what it was in my generation but you still have to get if Point A to Point B. You still have to do things the same way even though golf is being played in the 21st century.

Q. At the moment is the British Open you're focusing on?
GREG NORMAN: I'm focusing on the Johnnie Walker Classic right now. I want to get by this but I am going to play a golf tournament before the Masters. I'll play the Shell Houston Open. That's mainly just to go play a long golf course. I think that golf course is like 7,500 yards. This one is 7,100 yards, so add another 400 yards on top of that, you're talking a lot of golf. So I'm going to definitely play that one before the Masters.

Q. So you have not made up your mind in terms of the other majors, in terms of whether you will or won't compete in them?
GREG NORMAN: No, not yet.

Q. What gives you the most satisfaction between a, playing golf, and b, the business world?
GREG NORMAN: Which one gives me the most satisfaction?

Q. In both sections, in terms of playing and in business.
GREG NORMAN: In golf, it's probably just getting myself back to where I feel like I'm maybe 50 per cent of what my capabilities used to be like. And that's a goal in its own right. Even though you're not -- your speed and rotation is not the same as when I was in my 20s and 30s, it's still the technique of what you have to do to actually hit the shot.
There's no better feeling than do doing the right shot at the rate time, even if you only do four or five during a round it's still very, very warding to do that. As a player it's like climbing that mountain again, you don't expect to make a quantum leap from being an average player back to where you were in the 80s and 90s, and you're never going to reach the peak of where I was before and very much a realist on now.
I'm never going to get to those capabilities, but I'm going to get somewhat near them for certain shots and then for business, just weather the storm right now. Everybody, I feel sorry for everybody in this world right now; everyone is being affected by this financial crisis, whether you're in Australia or Europe or the U.K. or the United States. We have all got to figure out a way. We have to batton down the hatches a lot of the times and just weather the storm and just make sure that your business plan is a solid one so that you can come out of it the other end of it ready to go.
It's an awkward time for a lot of people. I feel sad and very fortunate to be here playing a golf tournament for a lot of money like nothing has ever happened. But at the end of the day, there's been a lot of people affected by it.

Q. Just a quick one about your round today; how do you think you hit the ball?
GREG NORMAN: I hit the ball okay. I think my concentration was better the first ten holes than the last eight holes. That's probably a little bit of jet-lag. I only arrived 24 hours ago.
I'm not concerned about it. I think I can get the ball Point A to Point B fairly well and hopefully my timing will get a bit more sharper as your body gets back into sink from the time change.

Q. You're a 41 dollar chance, is that surprising to you?
GREG NORMAN: I've never followed betting in my entire career. That's somebody else's business and they can do whatever they want to do.

Q. How do you rate your chances, or how seriously are you taking this tournament?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think you were here when I just answered that question. I'm going to give it my best chance, and we'll see. We'll play one shot at a time like any other golf tournament whether you play on a regular basis or whether you come in and play just a few times. You've got to play one shot at a time and accept what you get.

Q. Camilo and Anthony - can you talk about them?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I'll tell about Camilo, as he played in my tournament, the shootout and the Canadian skins last year, haven't played with Anthony, so I can't really comment on him. I've seen him on television.
But from Camilo's standpoint I love what I see in some of the younger players nowadays. I think they have had a tremendous opportunity since Tiger has been off the scene for nearly 12 months to give themselves the confidence to say, okay, I can go out there and do this and do what Camilo did at the end of the year, winning two-out-of-three tournaments and very, very impressive tournaments in their own right.
So they get that confidence boost, and same with Anthony. He performed very, very well last year. The younger generation, I think these two guys have got the opportunity to take the bull by the horns, and not get intimidated by anybody or any golf shot or any golf tournament. They have got the capabilities to win and they have proven that and they have just got to keep taking it fully and I think both of them have the confidence, the quiet confidence within them to do that and they are both characters in their own right. I think the game of golf needs characters, because I think it's gotten very stoic in a lot of ways. You don't see a whole lot of players showing their flair in a lot of ways. People need that, and golf needs that.

Q. Inaudible
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think the game has tended to go that way because of the prize money and people have gotten more -- stoic. Players who had a flair about them have quietly closed up and doing what they have to do because there's a lot of prize money out there to be played for.

Q. A Presidents Cup question, it's an honour to be the captain, do you need to promote it?
GREG NORMAN: I don't think I have to promote it at all. The international players for decades, we have all had to have a re good relationship with each other because we travel so much.
It's a little different in the United States because the guys when you play in the United States, you're in, you're out, you disappear and you don't hang around. International players, when you play overseas, you get together on a Sunday night, you travel together, some guys group up and go privately and some guys group up and travel together domestically and commercially and some guys even share houses together.
So the whole camaraderie from an international level is different from the aspect that I don't have to worry about that doing that. The guys are a good group of guys and they will gel together well whoever we put on the team and at the same time we also have an eclectic collection of cultures and languages that you have to figure out, too, and you have interpreters and you'll have significant others that you'll have to fit into the program, as well.
Like I say, I think it's going to be something that I don't have to worry about from that department.

Q. Why did you decide to play here?
GREG NORMAN: Because I was invited to come here. I mean, it's great. I enjoyed it and I'm glad I got the invitation. It fit into my schedule and I had to come down here and do other things, as well. So you get an invitation that fits in, why not accept it.

Q. How do you now think with all of the expectations of the fans, the media etc?
GREG NORMAN: I've had it for a few years now, so it will be no different. No, nothing different.

Q. Obviously you played the (Australian) Open and (Australian) Masters, and a long history of playing here; in the future will you play in them again?
GREG NORMAN: I always look back and see what the schedule is. The Australian Open is an awkward time because it's either the same week or the week before or week after the tournament I have in the States, so I have other priorities. I have supported this tournament in this country for a long period of time, 35 years now.
So sometimes you just can't fit in your schedule. There are times when I've made the effort to come down here and I've had to give up a lot of things somewhere else in the world. You do it because you like coming home and you do it because you like supporting the game of golf wherever it's played and I always look forward to those opportunities. The Australian Open comes up and if you have an opportunity to play, yes I take a look at it and same with the Masters, but I'm not doing it on a regular basis as you can tell. I have not played here for a couple of years, or even in the Johnnie Walker or the Vines. So you just look at it on a case-by-case basis.

Q. Do you think there are a few players with a chance of going to the top or will there be one dominant player?
GREG NORMAN: You are always going to have that one player that wants it more than everybody else. A lot of times you'll see players who want it, but when they get there, they never like it. I've seen that in my career. I've seen players step up and get to a position where their performance on the golf course dictates a lot of things off the golf course and they don't like it.
So you know, it takes a lot for that one individual to want it, and to be at the tip of the sphere when you are on the golf course and off the golf course, and I think the responsibilities come with it. So there will always be somebody like that.
And you know, whether it's Tiger Woods continuing on with it, or whether it's somebody young; the two gentlemen we talked about, whether it's a Camilo or whether it's a Kim or somebody else we don't even know yet, they will come along. There will always be one dominant player. But there will always be probably four or five or six other players that push that one dominant player to become better and better and better. That's what sport is all about, and it's certainly up to the individual.
GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Greg, it would be lovely to see you here on Sunday night with the trophy. Good luck.

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