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June 11, 1996

Greg Norman


LES UNGER: Thank you, Greg, for coming with us this morning. As we were just checking, your last appearance here or your last chance to play this golf course was in 1985, so I guess the only thing I have to ask is what your recollections are of--

GREG NORMAN: I really don't remember too much of the golf course, to tell you the truth. I just remember the way I finished 15th in the tournament, so all I can remember is the 18th hole, one of the great finishing holes that I have ever played. I probably remember 15 of the holes. I have to get out there and get an idea of the layout and where the holes flow. I am sure I will get my recollection back of how the golf course plays, but I do remember it is a long golf course. I do remember there is a lot of left-to-rights, but I don't remember the degree of left-to-right shots, so I am looking forward to having my practice round right now.

LES UNGER: Questions for Greg.

Q. Greg, tell us, how much harder is it for an Australian or somebody like yourself to succeed here? I am thinking in terms of yourself, Grant Waite, Frank Nobilo, Michael Campbell?

GREG NORMAN: To succeed?

Q. How much harder for you, from the southern hemisphere, is it to succeed? I am thinking of the New Zealanders as well when you are coming onto the Tour here?

GREG NORMAN: It is not hard for me at all because I live here. I have been living in the states since 1982, so I don't have that adjustment to make flying back and forth. You see most of the guys who come from that part of the world do have some house here or property here where they can put their suitcase in there for a couple of months at a time. The Frank Nobilos and Michael Campbells of the world have places in the northern hemisphere in London. So you have to make that adjustment to where you want to go play and I wanted to play in the United States, so I bought a place and I live here. So I don't think it is very difficult at all to be successful over here.

Q. The Majors really would get your juices running now? Is that the reason you play golf rather than regulation Tour events?

GREG NORMAN: Well, I think they've always done that.

Q. But more so now?

GREG NORMAN: Probably more so now, yeah. I think because of the way your life has changed and the structure of your life has changed, you know, you can look back over the decades from one decade to the next from the '70's to the '80s to the '90s, and my whole life -- the structure of my life has changed. Now I do a lot more things off the golf course, which I really enjoy doing, in business, so when you come back to the game of golf, you really come back for the four tournaments you dearly want to win the most and that is the Major Championships; so to answer your question, yeah, you really want to be ready and able to play the four tournaments a year and those are the ones you really want to win.

Q. Have you been particularly impatient for this Major to actually start?

GREG NORMAN: No, I have not been impatient. As a matter of fact, I haven't thought about the U.S. Open until I got here last night. I get more impatient with the Masters because I start thinking about that January 1st of that year; whereas, with the U.S. Open, British Open, PGA, because they come so quickly, you know, on top of each other, you are playing other tournaments at the time, you really don't have that much time to worry about it or think about it. Are far as the Masters, because you have got from August all the way through to April, you kind of like get your juices flowing early on, so I haven't really thought about the U.S. Open until last night.

Q. If there was a lesson for you regarding The Masters, what was it and how has it changed you coming into this one?

GREG NORMAN: Well, I think you always learn from your mistakes. I haven't really ironed it out, but I have got a pretty good idea of what it might have been and once you know that, you can use it for the next time you play. I made a few judgmental mistakes at The Masters with two shots, that is all. And I have been over that round very, very closely and scrutinized it with a fine tooth comb basically, and I really came up with two bad shots; so it wasn't my physical part of my game. My rhythm may be a little bit out because when you get yourself behind the eight-ball you try and push a little bit and when you try and push at Augusta, you don't get there. So that might have been the only thing that threw me out was my rhythm.

Q. Were the mistakes that you made in the attempt or the decision you made as to what kind of a shot you were going to use before --

GREG NORMAN: No, just a bad swing. That is all. Hit two bad swings; one on 8 and one on 16, and that was it.

Q. After your long vacation, you came back at The Memorial and had won the previous year. This time you missed the cut. Now the next week you have improved, made the cut and everything. What is the state of your game and can you be a winner this week?

GREG NORMAN: I can be a winner any time, really, because I think if you look back over the series of events, the week before The Masters, both Faldo and I missed the cut at TPC. We didn't play New Orleans, but we both miss the cut. So is there any bearing on what is going to happen during a Major Championship? No, I don't think so at all. I think the guys, when they come in here, getting ready for a Major Championship, have a tendency of tweaking up their game that week. Their concentration may get a little bit sharper, so I don't think there is any bearing on what happens the previous two weeks or three weeks or month. I have read one comment by Ernie Els, the week -- last week he was playing -- what does he do at Buick Open? He wins by 8 shots, so what -- who knows what this game can do for you in a week. All I know is when you come in for a Major Championship, you focus that much more technically on what your ultimate goal is and that is to win.

Q. Talk a little bit about how you have been treated by the galleries since you have come back after a long break?

GREG NORMAN: No different than any other time I have been out. The galleries have always been very supportive. They love to play the game. They love to watch the game. I haven't -- you know, I can say the gallery has been extremely supportive, popular about my approach to the game and my approach to life.

Q. Specifically, what part of your game have you been working on, if any, specifically, lately?

GREG NORMAN: I have been working on my short game, basically. You know, you can work on your short game, work on your short game. You can see nothing come out of it. Then all of a sudden something happens. And I think the short game is part of your long game - if your rhythm is a little bit out, your rhythm is going to be out in your short game. Your technique might be out, but you can fix your technique by if your ball-- the type of shot you are hitting or the type of chip you are hitting tells you what part of your technique is wrong, so you fix that and then the rest is just a matter of timing and confidence. That is what I have been working on last couple of weeks.

Q. Just go over last week, a little bit at the Buick. You started off real strong and then you seemed to kind of run out of gas on the weekends. Any particular reason or just not as focused or --

GREG NORMAN: No, I was focused. I was really into it because that is one of my favorite golf courses on the Tour. I really enjoy that. I drove the ball exceptionally well all week long. I mean, just again, as Jimmy alluded to, my short game wasn't as sharp. When I tried to play aggressive iron shots, which is a call you got to make on that golf course at the time and if I missed the shot, I had a hard time getting it up-and-down and that where -- as the week went by, that is what was showing through, the most, is my weakest part of my game at that time.

Q. Is the course playing the same way, the greens, the rough, was that the same (inaudible) --

GREG NORMAN: I haven't been out here yet, but it was pretty tough there. The greens are very hard, firm, very fast on the weekend, especially Saturday, and Shinnecock -- I mean -- Shinnecock..... (laughter) at Westchester, I was on the wrong side of the hole when I missed my second shots.

Q. How important is it to you to add a U.S. Open to your resume?

GREG NORMAN: Well, any Major is important. I'd like to, obviously, like to win one here in the United States. I have come close, so any Major Championship I will take, and give myself a chance to win this come some day and if I take it, I will be happy.

Q. The wetness and softness of the course is going to be something that is going to be around all week. How much of a factor is that going to be this week, do you think? Does it now hurt a number of people who are really going to be suited to the course?

GREG NORMAN: Not knowing -- I can't remember the golf course, to tell you the honest truth. Once I get out there and I know how the golf course is playing, whether softness is going to be a factor or whether firmness would be a factor to make the golf course play easier. I would imagine the softness around here would probably have a tendency of making the fairways being a little wider because the ball won't run or release. Then again, if you miss the fairways and the rough is going to be lush, so it is going to be harder to get it out. So there is a compromising deal both ways. But -- and then, obviously, softness, the greens are going to be soft, so maybe it -- you can play a little bit more aggressive. If my memory is right, this being a long golf course, you are hitting a lot of middle irons into these greens, so the softer the greens, the more receptive they are to that type of shot. So after hearing all that, I would say the rain might make it just that much easier if you are driving the ball great.

Q. Are you anymore anxious this time to get involved?

GREG NORMAN: In a what?

Q. In a Major Championship, are you anymore anxious after what happened at Augusta to get involved --

GREG NORMAN: Not at all. I am anxious any time. As I answered the question before, I look forward to playing the four Majors I get a great sense of satisfaction out of trying to be the hunted or trying to be the hunter in a Major Championship and at any golf tournament, to tell you the truth. But it is a more self-satisfying feeling in a Major Championship to be that way, so irrespective of what happened at The Masters, it doesn't matter, that is all history. That is water over the damn. I am looking forward to this tournament. I hope I have a 6 shot lead come Sunday. I look forward to that moment. If I don't; if I am one or two back, I look forward to that moment too. I will just go and play with what I have got.

Q. You mentioned earlier the 18th hole. Do you remember enough of it from '85 to perhaps consider where it would rank among the finishing holes?

GREG NORMAN: No, I don't. Ask me after tomorrow afternoon two more practice rounds and I can put it on a scale for you.

Q. How surprised were you at the level of sympathy that came after The Masters; not just here but also particularly from Australia?

GREG NORMAN: Well, surprise is -- "overwhelmed" is a better word than "surprise." I think people just appreciate what the game of golf does for everybody. And I have always said winning and losing, it doesn't really matter. It is how you play the game. It is how the end result is played out. I think people realize that, you know, when they see a lot of other sports, the antics and the approach of some of the other athletes take towards a loss or a bad call or something like that - I have seen it here in the United States last time -- we have all seen it. All the guys have seen it. Some of the athletes here, the way they perform and they don't get the right decision. And I honestly think the public sees that. So when they see it coming on the other side, they want -- they see it, boy, this is a role model that I want my kid to be. I don't want my kid to come up and think because you got a bad call, you can get abusive, and get aggressive towards somebody, or if you don't win, you don't talk to anybody, you don't talk to the media or you just go hide in a hole for a couple of days. And they see that. I think that is a good image that everybody -- that is why the game of golf has been so good for hundreds of years. And if I can play a part of one little piece of that, as I say, win lose or draw, I enjoy the position I put myself in and people understand that. They see that. They feel that. And you know, I guess they just want to write in and say that to that degree. That basically was the theme and approach that most people wrote.

Q. The last time somebody asked this, I think your responses were up to what, 7,500? What are they up to now, ballpark?

GREG NORMAN: Frank will know. I haven't been in the office for two weeks, so I mean, they are probably -- they are not coming in at that rate. I go to tournaments now; I am sure we will get them back at the office. Ask that gray haired guy over there. He might tell you.

Q. Shinnecock last year, they have done it, I think, on 5 holes, made some chipping areas around some of the greens rather than have the rough up. What are your thoughts about that and is that good for an Open?

GREG NORMAN: I think they did a great job. I think it started at Brookline, to tell you the truth. The way they set up Brookline was good a U.S. Open setup that I have ever seen it. Was tough and it was fair. And it made you play all types of different shots around the green. And I think -- as I said, I haven't been out there yet. But if they have got it out here, I think they just continued what was at Brookline which I think would be a great asset.

Q. A sports writer from NEW YORK TIMES named the course "The monster." Your generation, when they hear about Oakland Hills when you hear this monster name applied to it, do you buy that or do you think those guys are kind of living in the past --

GREG NORMAN: I think in answer to your question, I think technology has made a lot of that monsterism obsolete. Take Doral is a perfect example. Doral was called the Blue Monster. Golf balls and technology and the equipment, I know I am driving the ball further now than what I was five years ago. And I am only talking five years, and you are talking over 25-year span or 30-year span where the technology is really going way, way ahead. Not only the technology of the equipment we use, but in the agronomy equipment, the mowers they use on the fairways now, the fairways are so tight and pure; you get that the little extra roll, 3, 4, 5 yards extra. You multiply that by 18, you know, that brings the golf course down maybe another 55, 75, 80, sometimes 100 yards short. So you know, I do think about those things and I can think of Firestone for another example and we play it in Akron; that is supposed to be a monster golf course and guys go out there and shoot 61s around the golf course. So it would be very interesting if you could. You can't, you could never do but take some of the good players nowadays and give them the equipment that the Sneeds and the Nelsons and the Hogans and the golf course that they used and take us out there and have an exhibition match one day and see what would actually happen to our playability and what clubs would we hit differently. I think it would be a wonderful test. I don't think they make golf balls like that anymore. To answer your question, I think technology has just slipped right on the top of all that so that is why you see golf courses now where you normally had a bunker turn at 250 making the turning point of the hole and now it is somewhere around 250, 270, so you have to add on that 15 yards because of technology of equipment.

Q. When people mention Shinnecock, what are your thoughts? What do you remember most about last year's Open?

GREG NORMAN: Probably the toughest Open. The best venue you could ever have an Open at. Mainly because it was setup fantastically well with the Links-style approach. They let us play bump-and-run shots. Of all the Opens we played, I think that was the toughest one. The toughest and the fairest and most enjoyable play under those conditions.

Q. Wondering on that sportsmanship angle with other sports, why does golf remain untarnished when most of the other sports are tarnished by some other individuals, is it something about the game or do you take some credit for that or do you feel it is a responsibility?

GREG NORMAN: Well, it is a responsibility you have with the position you take in your job. And it's a responsibility you carry on from the Bobby Joneses of the world, and the Hogans of the world, and the Palmers of the world, and Nicklauses of the world, and Watsons of the world - just a continuing process. If you are part of that lineup, it is a great honor to be in the lineup with those guys because you know you are continuing on the image and the integrity of the game.

LES UNGER: Thanks for coming, Greg, lots of luck this week.

End of FastScripts.....

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