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July 29, 2009

Greg Norman


THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome Greg Norman to the interview area. This is Greg's third Senior Open; twice he's finished fourth. He's won 78 tournaments in 13 countries around the world and twice won the British Open Championship. Greg, playing majors back-to-back-to-back, tell us where you are with your game right now and your thoughts and expectations this week.
GREG NORMAN: I feel my game is fairly solid, actually. I have no complaints at the moment. I'm just a little bit like anybody would say coming off playing golf in Europe for two weeks then getting over here, it's bit of a slug on us. But it is what it is. I just wish there was a bit of a gap between the British Open and the Senior U.S. Open.

Q. You finished fourth in two previous U.S. Senior Opens, how do you feel Crooked Stick plays, and do you think you can kind of break that cycle this weekend?
GREG NORMAN: I hope I break it for the better, not the worse; right? Is that what you mean?

Q. Yeah.
GREG NORMAN: I like Crooked Stick. I think Pete Dye's done a good job here, no question about it. It's already hosted a major championship, and it's proven its credibility. So it suits my game to a degree, suits the longer hitter. Obviously with John Daly winning around here and flying the ball through the air you have some advantages. So if I keep playing solid, hopefully I can improve on that fourth place average.
But I like it. The people are great. Very, very supportive here. I've been surprised over the last couple days the number of people who have come out here and watched us in our practice rounds. It's been tremendous to see that. I hope we can all put on a good show for them.

Q. A lot of people have talked about the length and, you know, being a bomber's course. What about the second shots? There's a lot to deal with there, isn't there?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, there's a lot of squirreliness on some of the greens, which is what Pete likes to do. He likes to test your mind. You got to know where you are going to hit the shot. And more importantly, if you are going to hit it and mishit it, where you are going mishit the shot.
The back nine greens, they're probably a little more tricky than the front nine greens. He kind of lays them out there fairly benign for the first nine holes, even the tenth hole, then all of a sudden things start to change for you.
Pete does that. He's a great designer of golf courses, but he also mentally challenges the player. No matter how good you are or how bad you are. And that's part of his modus operandi around Crooked Stick. He gradually makes things more difficult as the day goes on. Under the circumstances and under the pressure of the situation, you've really got to keep your head on the right way and make sure your game is strong.
So that's the art of a great designer, is challenging not only physically but mentally.

Q. Greg, do you think what you did last year at Brookdale and what Tom did this year sort of gives senior golf a little new found respect from some people that might not have had it?
GREG NORMAN: I would hope so. I would hope it's the younger generation sitting up and taking stock on the fact that if you are playing golf in your early 20s, you still got another 30-plus years of golf ahead of you. So just be patient and keep on your game plan and keep working at it. The game of golf will take it away from you but also give it back to you over a long period of time.
I think the last couple years the British Open has shown the fact that if you keep yourself in good physical shape, the best physical shape you can for the age you are in, and then make sure your game is halfway decent, you can contend with these guys. You are not going be able to do it on every golf course. There's certain golf courses that obviously takes the older players out of it to a degree. But when you get on golf courses like links golf course where a lot of experience and the ball releases is going forward, absolutely.

Q. Greg, just wanted to ask you how much you actually remember from '91 here. Are there things out there that seem familiar to you, greens or certain holes?
GREG NORMAN: I pretty much remembered it when I played yesterday 15 of the 18 holes. And I remembered all the back nine for sure.
The golf course is playing very similar to what we played in '91 yardagewise. Shouldn't say yardagewise, the clubs were hitting into the greens.
As a matter of fact, I made a comment yesterday I was surprised how short it did play and relative to what I remembered it back in '91. So you think of the 14th hole, for example, John Daly was the only one who could really carry the creek on the left. And now pretty much all are carrying the creek on the left.
So it's sign of the times. Technology's helped us advance in that period of time from '91 to here we are 18 years later. So we're all basically out there where we use to be 20 years ago.

Q. Some point in the last couple weeks you mentioned maybe not being as tournament tough as you'd like because you haven't played a lot of senior golf. How will that manifest itself and is that coming off? I mean, three weeks in a row, is that enough to get tournament tough?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I think so. Last week was a good indicator of that. I played very, very good golf from tee to green. And on Sunday I think it was a bit showing that I hadn't played -- I had not played tournament putting golf. I putted well, but I didn't putt the way I know you should putt on the final round leading a golf tournament. That's just from no tournament play.
This week it will be a little better than what it was last week. And going into the John Wind in two weeks time, whenever it is, it will be that much better again.
So there's no question, tournament play is good for you. It teaches you and it reminds you of the things that you know in your system, and it's not just hitting the ball. It's the ability of concentrating and making sure you read the greens right and hit them to the right speed. That's all tournament conditions.

Q. Are you concerned the five-hour time difference and all that might interfere with that momentum, that kind of rhythm you picked up last week or you'll just see?
GREG NORMAN: No, it will be okay. I think everybody's flown back across the pond, so we all have a little bit of jet lag. And we've done it for 30, 35 years of our lives, so you just got to plow your way through it and deal with it and tee it up tomorrow and do the best you can.

Q. Speaking of teeing it up tomorrow, looking at the forecast, rain possibly Thursday and Sunday. How do you think this course will hold up with the rains coming in here?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think we had a lot of rain here last night, didn't we? And the golf course today was perfect. So I don't see any concerns or problems for the USGA or Crooked Stick as a golf course to put up with some more rain.
And most of the rain coming in are thunderstorms anyway, so we get pulled off the golf course because of lightning. So I think the golf course is going to be fine with no problem.
From my perspective, I play early tomorrow so hopefully I'll be in before the rain anyway when it comes in.

Q. Could you just talk a little bit about how much fun is senior golf for you. Is it more fun than you thought it would be? Did you think it was going to be fun, and what do you like about it?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I predominantly only played the major championships. I think I played one regular Tour event. That was down in Cap Connor. So I really can't make a comment on the regular senior Tour events. I haven't played enough of them.
But coming out here to the major championships, the golf courses are set up not as tough -- the senior PGA was comparable to any major championship we played. The USGA has been a little bit kinder for us in the outer-rough. But all the other -- the greens this week are not as quick as what they were last year at the Sunnydale at the Senior British Open, but I can understand that here because of all the undulations. If they got off too quick here we wouldn't be able to putt on some of them. So I think they've done a great job balancing it out.
We can move the ball forward out of the heavy rough and some of us, the stronger players, should be able to really try to advance it and get it on the green, which could be a disaster in its own right as well.
So I think the -- from playing in the senior majors or regular majors you still have the same atmosphere.

Q. Do you enjoy it?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah I enjoy it. I enjoy playing the major -- I enjoy playing four rounds, not three, I got to be honest with you.
When I played in the first senior tournament, I got in there Friday and it felt like the tournament was over before we even started. So, you know, it's amazing when you get use to doing something for 30-odd years, then when it changes, is was tough for me to make that adjustment. But that was only one event, so I really can't be too critical.
If I play another one, at least I'll know what to expect going into it. But I do enjoy playing, I really do.

Q. Greg, we talked last night about the directions you get pulled in and how much you enjoy doing other things. Given all that, are you a better practicer when you do practice than, say you were 10 or 20 years ago?
GREG NORMAN: Am I a better practicer?

Q. Yeah. Do you use your time more wisely when you practice?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I really focus on my practice, you know, when you're younger and you're trying to hone your skills you need to hit a lot of golf balls to get your muscles right and get your technique correct. As you get older, all you need to do is just bump off the rust, basically, and get the joints moving. So you can stay there and get a lot of work done in 90 minutes to 2 hours instead of doing it for 8 or 9 hours.
And now what I do is I practice for two-hour sessions; I'll go play golf, and before I never played. I always just hit golf balls, and I only played when I went to a tournament. I hardly ever played a round of golf. So my time was spent on the driving range, and now it's completely reversed.

Q. A lot of people around here want to know is Crissy here, will Crissy be out?
GREG NORMAN: No, she's not here. She'll be in on Friday night. She is doing some things right now, and she's looking forward to the weekend here.
THE MODERATOR: Greg, thank you for your time.
GREG NORMAN: Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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