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April 9, 2009

Greg Norman


LARRY PUGH: We want to welcome Greg Norman and congratulate him on a terrific day. It's wonderful to have you back and it's wonderful to see you playing golf like that. Let you open up with any comments you might have, and we'll go to questions.
GREG NORMAN: Well, my whole objective today, like I've been saying is to come in here ask play solid and keep your expectations low. The golf course obviously was totally different than what we had from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and the whole idea for any player is really get yourself off to a good, solid start. I did that today. I had a lot of opportunities, really could have shot a nice, mid-60s score today. I didn't. I'm not complaining.
There's just some putts out there that some of these greens have been adjusted to some degree, and the practice rounds really did not allow me to putt a whole lot because the wind was blowing the balls off whatever line you were hitting them anyway, so you really were not learning too much.
But I putted well. I'm not complaining at all. It was a good, solid round of golf.

Q. Gregory said after the round that he could feel a lot of love for you on every hole. Why in your mind do you think that is?
GREG NORMAN: Sorry, what?

Q. Love.
GREG NORMAN: Hey, everybody loves me. (Laughter) Nothing wrong with that, is there? Are you jealous? (Laughter)
I think no matter where I play in the world, I've always been connected to the gallery. I play the game of golf with my heart on my sleeve, and I've done very well out of the game. And when I come here, people probably feel for me, some of the things that have happened around here, and really enjoy seeing me back here. I played my way back into this golf tournament, which very few people can say at the age of 54, and it's a feather in my cap to say the least.
I think that they respect what I've done over my career and how I've handled some of the things that have happened around here. I see the same faces. Some of these people are sitting in the same chairs that were on the 15th, 15 years ago, even on the 18th. So it's great to see these people time in, year after year, and being a seven-year hiatus, it feels like the very first time I played here.

Q. How much time did it take to focus on playing on golf, and Geoff said the other day that he has not seen you this focused on golf for a long time. He said he's happy to see it and it looks like you love the game again.
GREG NORMAN: I think coming here, I just came here with the total objective was, play well here, play the best I could. It's only round one. I played well in round one. And my first priority is make sure I got through Friday, and if I get through Friday, and I keep hitting the ball the way I'm hitting, my excitement level will probably get a little bit higher than what it is right now.
And I really have made a conscious effort. I'm enjoying playing golf again. I went through three years, a pretty tough three years, and when you can't really focus on two things at one time, 100%, when you have to tidy things up behind the scenes. And that was a bit of a drain and took a lot of energy away from the game. I really didn't want to go play golf to tell you the truth.
But now I've got great support with Chrissie. She wants me out there to play. She knows how much I enjoy playing. She actually comes and watches me practice. She will sit there and watch me hit balls hour after hour, and even chip-and-putt. It's great. She's very encouraging in that way.
She says, "If you want to go play golf, you go play golf." So when you have that really good support behind you, it really makes you feel good. And Geoff is 100% right. I'm getting a little bit more focused into the game. I'm getting back into my old routine, pre-shot routine. Everything seems likes it's falling into place to some degree.
That doesn't mean I'm going to go on and keep doing well, but it means, in fact, that I've got myself back into a balance in a big way, in life in general, and that's reflective on the golf course.

Q. Just as a follow-up to that, do you think was there a point in which you thought to yourself that you were probably not going to play golf again, at this level, at least, and now, how do you look to the future now?
GREG NORMAN: There was never I time where I said I'm never going to play the game of golf again. It was just a matter of putting things aside and getting things put aside. And once they were put aside, I had a free mind and a free approach towards things, and it allowed me to focus on the things I love to do. I love business and I love playing golf. I've been very good for a long period of time at balancing both of them, but now I've got support of wanting to play golf, and it makes it even easier for me to say, okay, I'm going to go practice for the next two or three weeks and get ready for this golf tournament. I can go do that and it's a great feeling to be able to do it.

Q. Does Chris ever lament the fact that she cannot play in her sport at this level again? Does she ever kid or joke about that?
GREG NORMAN: Yes. We talked about this on Monday night, actually. And she really, she does. She does. She wishes she could get back out there and play, because she sees the passion that I have, and I'm at the age, we are both at an age, where golf allows me to do it, or my sport allows me to do it for whatever crazy reason.
You know, tennis, if you do not have your speed on the court, then you are going to get beaten. She can still play. She can still hit it. She can do all the shots. Yeah, she feels -- she really does feel, especially now when I'm out there. She's a competitor and she loves to see competition. She loves to make sure that everything is right around me, to make sure, okay, going forward, this is all I have to worry about. Everything else is taken care of, because she's been there and done that. She wants nothing more than to see me just happy playing golf; whatever happens on the golf course.
So, yes, we do talk about it, and yes, she does reminisce a lot, and she still lives through her academy and sees the great young little tennis players who are 10, 12, 13, 14 years old coming up. She's a great mentor in that regard, and I think that's how she just channels her competitive spirit to make sure somebody good comes out of her academy. Even now, there is a great tennis player coming out right now.

Q. Given the way you played today, is there anyway you could guess what you might have shot on an earlier Augusta National?
GREG NORMAN: (Chuckles). Everybody wants to live in the past. (Laughter).
You know, it's hard to say, because I'm not driving the ball as far. I drove the ball beautifully today, but I'm not driving the ball 40 yards further. If I had the technology I had today back in the 80s, I would be driving the ball 340, 350 yards, no question about it. But I didn't.
And today was a comparable round under those conditions. I may have made a few more putts back then, because to be honest with you, if anything does kind of have a tendency of leaving you if you have not played a lot of golf, it is your putting. And it's not your stroke; it's actually feeling the putt. When you've got a putt so fast, just a lot of break, you've really got to have that memory and feel of what it's all about, and the more you play, that's what you have.
I would say maybe one or two putts extra might have gone in the hole.

Q. In reference to your wife and the support that you now, she was out there today for all to see; did you see her?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I saw her about seven times. I know exactly where she is, and I know her voice, too. (Laughter).

Q. She was making a lot of noise, wasn't she?
GREG NORMAN: She is. She's a competitor. She likes me to know where she is, too, which is great. There's times when you're not feeling great and you can look over and she'll give you the thumbs up signal, button down, or whatever the signal it is that we have that, yeah, you just refocus and get back into it.
It's a neat relationship in a lot of ways.

Q. And that's not anything that you had last time, so maybe that could make a difference?
GREG NORMAN: Well, when you have somebody who has been a competitor; I mean, I'm very lucky to be like that. Because to have somebody who has been in that position before, and it doesn't matter what sport you play; when you have to execute and know how to execute and understand what pressure is all about, and understanding what a mistake is; in tennis, if you hit it out, you might be 40-30 and then you can come back.
In golf, you hit it in the water, you're making double-bogey. So golf is a lot more of a precise game in a lot of ways, and she completely understands that. We have very spirited discussions which game is harder and which game is easier, to say the least. (Laughter) She says golf is not a cardio sport, which is true.
But the other day when we were in Houston, she was on the golf course for 13 hours, and I asked her in the car, "Now what do you think is a cardio sport"? I go watch you play tennis and you're done in an hour. We're still out here 13 hours later and still on the golf course. It's a totally different sport.
Getting back to what you were saying, it's great to be able to sit back -- when we go back tonight, she knows exactly how to handle the situation, and it will just be a perfect preparation for tomorrow.

Q. How would you assess the role of your caddie today, and were there any cases of him telling you what to do or did you tell him?
GREG NORMAN: He was excellent. On a scale of one to ten, I'll give him a 9.5. Yardages, we went through this on Thursday afternoon or Tuesday evening. I told him how precise the second shot has to be on this golf course. I told him, we went through the green setups and to make sure that every carry has to be within the yard. If it's 143, and if you hit it 142 and a half, like on 9, you're coming back. You have to be so precise with that yardage.
And I said, that's where you've really got to concentrate from the caddie's perspective, and he did a phenomenal job today. Every time I walked over to the ball, he gave me the three yardages I like, front, carry, whatever it is over a knoll or over a bunker, and what the flag is, and the fourth yardage, how much behind the pin. He just rattled them off and that just gives me the ability to concentrate on my shot, and then just go play my shot.
So it's a huge asset.

Q. How many holes did he overrule you on?
GREG NORMAN: Overrule me? No, he agreed with everything I did today. (Laughter).

Q. Larry Mize is high on the leaderboard.
GREG NORMAN: I haven't even noticed the leaderboard to tell you the truth.

Q. He's 5-under.
GREG NORMAN: Good for Larry. Well, that's great. It's great to see that, and I think you're going to see a lot of good scores coming out of this golf course today. I would not be at all surprised if you see a 6- or 7-under or a 5-, 6-, 7-under leading the golf tournament at the end of the day.

Q. Can a 54-year-old man win this golf tournament?
GREG NORMAN: We'll have to wait and see.
LARRY PUGH: Thank you very much and good luck.

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