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July 25, 2012

Greg Norman


STEVE TODD:  You'll be honoured tonight with Honorary Membership at Turnberry, I guess it's particularly special for to you receive that award and to be back here in general this week.
GREG NORMAN:  There's no question about it.  It's an honor to receive it, No. 1.  This is one of my favourite rotations of golf anywhere in the world.  I enjoy playing and always enjoy coming here the week before to practise and play, whether it's up in Skibo Castle or Royal Dornoch or coming over to Machrihanish and playing over there, some of the great golf courses we never really get the opportunity to experience under real conditions.
And then obviously Turnberry.  Been coming here a long period of time.  One of my fondest memories of a tournament I never played in was watching Nicklaus and Watson playing in '77.  That really inspired me to see the way those two went at it, played 72 great holes and came all the way down to the 72nd hole for the ultimate winner to be found with Tom.
So memories like that last a long period of time around here.  And obviously being an honorary member being bestowed on me tonight caps it off in a lot of ways.
STEVE TODD:  We've not had your company in the last couple of years due to the injury.  What shape are you in coming into the weekend, and what are your thoughts on being competitive in a tournament you finished so well in the last few times you've played.
GREG NORMAN:  As for competitive, I get excited when I come to links courses.  I get excited when I come to Turnberry so no matter what the weather conditions dish out to you, you try to figure out how to get the golf ball around the golf course and I did that at Birkdale when my expectations were extremely low.  And I put myself in position to win the regular British Open.  Tom did the same here at Turnberry.  I think it's a lot of what you have in the venue, comes bubbling up if you actually just let it happen.  It's not the fact that I have to pound thousands of golf balls anymore; it's the fact that you have to feel enjoyable playing the game of golf and I enjoy playing it around links golf courses.
So where it all leads, health‑wise, my shoulder is back to 100 per cent and I'm physically fit and I'm back to the strength I was three years ago.  It's taken me a long time to get there post‑surgery but I'm there now and now I can look forward to just working and building up more strength on my body to maybe practise a little bit more.  Health‑wise, I feel pretty good.

Q.  When you think back to 1986, in terms of your career overall, where does it fit in?
GREG NORMAN:  Probably in the top four or five golf tournaments I've played.  I've been fortunate, I've won a lot over my years, and I know how it feels when everybody expects you to win your first major.
When I came here to Turnberry, I was, you know, a little bit under the radar screen to some degree but I was playing well.  The weather conditions were brutal.  The golf course was set up in a brutal fashion, the narrowest fairways you can ever remember at a British Open, and to this day at a British Open.
So like I say, it sits in the top five of all my victories, and obviously the round I played on Friday, I think I teed off Friday morning, I think it was, was one of the top two rounds, top three rounds of my whole career.  And that set it up.  I think I beat the field by five strokes if my memory is right, I can't remember. 
So that really set up the cushion for me to keep going.  And I had a different philosophy that week, too.  I was driving the ball‑‑ I've always been a great driver of the golf ball, but that week leading into it, I was driving the ball really, really well.
When I saw the golf course, and I knew I was driving the ball very long and very straight, I said, look, I'm going to hit driver everywhere, because even if I hit it in the rough I can get it out somewhere near the green with a shorter iron and everybody laying way back.
So I had a different philosophy; most of the game plans‑‑ when I played practise rounds, I remember a player making a comment, why are you hitting driver here, why are you hitting driver here.  I stayed with my game plan.

Q.  Talking about the way the course was set up then, can you compare it now?  Is it a walk in the park now compared to back then?
GREG NORMAN:  It's all relative.  The golf course is a little bit different.  They have changed a few, put in a few bunkers and few different tees.  Even though we are not playing the tips, we are up on some of the longer holes, thank goodness.  But it's relative to the angles we played and the softness is close to it.  We had a lot of rain at the time.  I hope it doesn't blow as hard as it did then.
I hit the ball, relative today to then, yeah, I'm probably driving the ball the same distance.  But in relative to power, it's nowhere near the same as back in those days, just technology has enabled us to get it to similar places we used to hit it.  But the wind was different.  The wind was more out of the south if my memory is right.  We were playing into 17, and 16 we were hitting 2‑irons, 3‑irons and 4‑irons into that hole.  I know that it played pretty tough.

Q.  There's been a great deal of interest in Adam Scott and what he went through over the weekend.  I'd be grateful for your perspective and if you've spoken to Adam since then.
GREG NORMAN:  Yeah, I have spoken a lot to Adam.  I feel for him.  Adam's been, I don't know, I feel like a bit of a father figure to him in some ways.  He stays at my house.  He practises at my house.  He works with his long putter at my house.
So I've spent a lot of quality time with him to know how he feels and understand what he's going through, and I spoke to him at length on Sunday night, and probably gone back and forth with a lot of texts, even texts during the week, leading up to Sunday.
And he responded to all of them, and he was great during our conversation.  I'm not going to go into deep detail about it but I just basically told him to think of the 68 holes he played phenomenally well, better than anybody else, and even the four holes, he probably hit 60 per cent of his shots the way he played the previous 68 holes.  It just didn't happen, and to always look forward; never look back, and use the loss as a catalyst to be a winner, not using the loss as a catalyst to be a loser.
It's just the things that you learn from experience.  He knows he's good enough to win.  He wants to win a major, and once you bite that snake's head off, that snake is dead forever and you just have to get through the door, and he will, for sure.

Q.  Inaudible.
GREG NORMAN:  We talked a little bit about that but not in depth.  It was more about his questions and me not saying too much and just saying enough and saying in a confident fashion and just making his mind think about in the right direction instead of falling back.  This week will be tough, he has the week off, and you do reflect, no question about it.
Obviously Akron is going to be the next one he plays, and he gets himself in a position there, there will be a lot of questions asked again, they will bring it up again.  So it's a revolving, churn, churn, churn; you have to block it out the best you can, and accept that it's part of the deal.  You're not going to win every golf tournament, and you know, no matter who you are, so you have to accept it and embrace it.  Sometimes embracing adversity is easier than running away from it.
So those are the type of things we talked about.

Q.  What's your view of the belly putter and the long putter?
GREG NORMAN:  I'm going to put myself out of this.  I went out maybe 15, 18 years ago when they first came out and Peter Senior was using one in Australia, maybe 20 years ago, Wayne Riley was using one, and I was very vocal at the time about being against it.  And because it is a‑‑ when you have something hinged to an anchor, it's not a true golf swing.
My suggestion at the time was to limit the lie of the golf club, because you couldn't have a very good putter if the lie was a certain minimum or a certain maximum.  That was my thought at the time.  You know, now, I don't even know they are going to define the word anchoring.  It will be an interesting‑‑ if they do agree to do it, the R&A and the USGA, it will be an interesting interpretation of what they say, what is anchoring.
I think they are right to do it, I really do.  And I'm not saying that for any other reason.  Just I think it's a pure golf stroke.  We all have nerves.  We all have to figure out how to play the game of golf with those little twitches or whatever it is.  That's part of the game.  And you know, to see that element taken out either by drugs or by a piece of equipment that helps you alleviate it, I'm not for that.

Q.  Could you have seen him getting in that position if he had stuck with a short putter?
GREG NORMAN:  Look, Adam and I talked at length about it, and the situation, if there's no rules against it, you've got to find something to make it easier for you, right.  He's a good enough putter anyway without it.  He's just a little more confident with it, and that's what it's all about.  And he started making putts, and when he started making putts, he wasn't going to change.
So to answer your question, if the long putter wasn't around, he's still a good putter and he's still a great ball‑striker.  So the answer to that question is, yes, he would be there.

Q.  The way you speak about Adam, would it be fair to say you wouldn't be surprised if he goes out and wins the US PGA; that he's that strong a character?
GREG NORMAN:  I don't see any reason why he cannot.  His game right now is very, very good.  He just has to make sure that fits his mind and fits his aye going into Akron.  One of my last comments to him was just think about winning PGA and the Masters.  He nearly won the Masters a year ago.  The PGA at Kiawah, I've never played the golf course, but after coming off something like Royal Lytham and marrying a bit of Akron and a bit of parkland and a little bit of Royal Lytham, then you have Kiawah.  I think he should play well there.
STEVE TODD:  Thanks for joining us, Greg.

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