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May 29, 1996
WES SEELEY: You have been out there for four hours thinking of things to tell us.
GREG NORMAN: I don't have to think about things to tell you, Steve. (LAUGHTER)
WES SEELEY: So how was your play after last night's rain?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I guess it's the same as what we played last year on Sunday, very wet. Seems like 52 weeks have gone by and nothing has changed. This golf course, unfortunately, was bothered by the inclement weather, with the rain, but if the weather stops and has the opportunity to dry out a little bit, you know, maybe come Sunday there will be a little bit of firmness back in the fairways, but there is a lot of moisture out there - there really is. So I just feel sorry for Jack and the Memorial, because he obviously likes to see the golf course playing firm and fast like he would anticipate it to be.
Q. Working on the swing mechanics these days?
GREG NORMAN: Am I?
GREG NORMAN: No. I am just working on trying to get that real action out of my swing. That is the only thing I'm trying to work on. (Indicating fishing) Do you know what fishing is?
Q. I hear you.
GREG NORMAN: No, I have got no problems with my swing. I haven't been working on any mechanics. Actually, I came back from my vacation feeling very fit, very strong and very loose, believe it or not, after nearly three, four -- three and a half weeks without hitting the ball; I stepped right back into it, didn't have a problem at all.
Q. What you have done in the last few weeks? What sort of things were you doing?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I went up to Hilton Head, had a week at home for five days, six days. And then I headed down to Mexico for two weeks; traveled around the Yucatan Peninsula by boat; spent the last week two weeks in the Bahamas fishing and diving. And then last week I practiced and went to a ballgame up in Orlando and spent some time with the kids, and that is about it.
Q. Seems to me last year before this tournament you took a lot of time off and it benefited you by winning this tournament. How do you think it will help you?
GREG NORMAN: I hope it benefits me, too, if I go on and win the tournament. As I said, I feel very good, very fresh. In my mind, I feel keen to get out there and play. My practice session last week was very sharp, which, as I said, surprised me. I came back from the trip very loose and ready, so I haven't had a problem getting back into the saddle mentally to practice. Sometimes it takes you a few extra days. Normally it takes me three, four days to get back into timing the ball pretty good. This time it took me two days, so I feel very, very good and am looking forward to playing, so, you know, who knows. I mean, that is not to say you are going to go out there and do the same as you did last year, but if I keep the frame of mind I am keeping now, I have got a pretty good confident feeling about the week.
Q. We have heard so much about the response to people after Augusta. Talk about that a little, about all the letters you received and things the people have told you.
GREG NORMAN: Well, I have had in excess of 7,500 letters. They are still coming in, and I couldn't answer them all. I did a lot of them. I tried to take a lot of them away to read with me on the trip, but it was just overwhelming, the numbers. I had boxes and boxes of them. So at the end of the day, my best way was to do what I did. And I did it when I was away, so I didn't know what the reaction was. My office said it came out pretty good. The reaction was pretty good, but that was the best way I could thank everybody for their support that they showed me. It is still happening to this day. I still get -- my locker room is full of mail. So it is just -- it is great. That is what makes it all worthwhile. I mean, like I said to you before, winning is not everything. It is how you play the game and how you accept your defeats and how people perceive you, perception, the way you feel. And I think that is the most important thing.
Q. Were you surprised at all by the outpouring of, you know, and was it one or two messages that stuck in your mind, the ones that you did get to see, anything that somebody had to say that truly hit home?
GREG NORMAN: Well, yeah, everybody hit home. I mean all 7,500 plus letters hit home. And I think that is the important thing because, you know, that each and every one of them had a meaning. And they all had the same meaning, but they all expressed it in a different way, the ones I have read. So, you know, unless you actually go through it or only few people in my office that have actually experienced it, Frank and the people in there, who could see the outpouring. I was away for three weeks, so I didn't see that continual flow of messages coming in, and the end of the day Frank had to categorize them A, B and C from people I knew; corporate people I knew, and then, basically, fans. So it was an A, B, C category. But as I said to you, it makes it all worthwhile. It really does. It makes me feel better to be a father because my kids look up to me more now, I guess, -- I know my son, he looks at me more as a hero now more than anything else. Those types of things mean a lot to you. Like I said, I know I am not a loser, as I said after the Master. I know I have a lot of golf left in me. And people have their perceptions. They want to call you a choker or gagger, whatever they want to do, but in reality, they are not the ones in there. I mean, they wish they could win a Pulitzer prize. I have won a couple of them. There are a lot of guys that think they should, but they don't. So I just accept that and go on and do my life and appreciate it more now. I appreciate it more because of all those letters.
Q. What kind of response did you receive from the folks out here today, any particular things stand out?
GREG NORMAN: No, I mean, they're just enthusiastic, happy to see the sun out, aren't they? (LAUGHTER) But they enjoy the walk around and yeah, they are enthusiastic. They are a great golfing crowd up here. This is their main event of the year, I would say, and they look forward to it. So come Wednesday, they are keen to get out and watch it. So it was a good support.
Q. In defeat, you gain something that maybe before you didn't have. I know you had some close finishes before and people talked about those. Was this one different than that?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, it was totally different, you know. But see, there again, the question in itself, the way you asked the question is the reason why we play the game. We love to play the game, win or lose, and if you keep yourself playing and you keep yourself at that level, you are going to appease a lot of people. You are not going appease everybody. You are not going to make the whole world happy. You are going to make some people upset, and they are going to be against you. Overall, you play the game because you love to play. My reaction through the majority of the media is totally different as well, because I got a different understanding and I got a better feeling of all that. I am not as cynical now. I could give you an example: I was sitting at the ballgame against the Bulls and the Chicago -- I mean, and the Magic -- and normally at half time I am sitting there with my son; you want to sit there, have a drink and eat popcorn, take it all in, but people came up and asked me for my autograph. I sat and signed for 20 minutes. I said to myself, look, I don't know whether one of these people wrote me one of those letters, so you know, I feel that I can't say "no, I can't sign your autograph, please." I can't do that. But because of that situation, because I am less cynical now, you feel like -- I feel totally different about my whole approach to life and the world, and I think that is great. I know I am a better person for it. I know I am more intune with myself and my goals and ambitions and directions I want to go. That is good for you and good for me. That is good for everybody as far as I am concerned. That is why I say you take a lot of goodness out of sometimes hitting rock bottom and having a real hard lick. And if I won the tournament, it could have been the total opposite, you know, you never know. I wish I would have won the tournament to find out, but it doesn't matter now. I know I will achieve my goals in life. I know I will. Irrespective of what people think or see, I know that is the most important thing deep down inside of me.
Q. Any kind of reaction to President Clinton invoking your name whenever his aides tell him how far ahead he is in the pole?
GREG NORMAN: Invoking my name?
GREG NORMAN: That is news to me. I'm a Republican anyway, so -- (LAUGHTER) I don't know about that, so I can't answer that question.
Q. I know on the boat you said you spent a lot of time thinking about The Masters. Have you been out to dissect why you think it happened and what you will do differently next time?
GREG NORMAN: Of course I did. I spent a lot of time. I enjoyed that time, peace and quiet, and sitting back there, you are the only one there to think about and not really talk about. That is the best time. Yeah, I did. I felt that I didn't do anything wrong. I made two bad swings. In all honesty, I made a bad swing on 16 and a bad swing on 8, and outside of that, my distances were probably off by two or three feet. So I can look at the bright side, you know, the shots I hit into 9; if I hit it three feet further, I was stiff. It doesn't go three feet further, so I am weighing out these deals when you are talking about the game of golf from inches from 198 yards now. So I hit all the shots the way I could see them. I feel very positive about the day. I didn't feel nervous at the first tee, so -- and I also take out the fact after 9, 10, 11, 12, that I turned around and hit 13, 14 the way I did it. The only flaw I made on 16, that was a bad swing. So I did turn around. There was a lot of big fluctuation in my mood swings right there after 12, and I kept myself there. I still had a chance to win the tournament if I didn't hit that ball in the water on 16. I still got a chance to win. And that is what I bring out of it, too. So, yeah, there is a lot of good and a lot of bad, but I have had time to think about it.
Q. If you only made two bad swings, really there's nothing you are saying you could have done to beat --
GREG NORMAN: I don't think so. I think that was just the way it went. I didn't make the putts I needed to make at the end of the day. I hit a bad chip on 10, which is unusual for me, probably the easiest chip you could have at Augusta. But yeah, as I said, I am not concerned about it. I'm really not. Nothing in there for me to go soul searching and say, boy, you have got to do a major overhaul in your approach in the game. I don't need to do that. That is why I say -- that is why I feel ready and keen to go right now, because I am not confused in my mind.
Q. By coming in when you did, you obviously feel that one practice round here is enough for you. What do you have to see on this course, if anything, to get ready for this tournament, just the speed?
GREG NORMAN: Speed of the greens, that is about it. They were slow today because I don't believe they mowed them this morning. I was planning on coming in yesterday morning. I had to stop in Sugarloaf in Atlanta to finish off the golf course there, and they were having a severe line of thunderstorms coming in with tornadoes and hail, so I opted not to go there. I decided just to delay it a day. I was planning on coming here on Tuesday.
Q. Frank was quoted as saying that you are not going to do one-on-ones anymore; is that correct?
GREG NORMAN: One-on-one interviews?
GREG NORMAN: I think I honestly believe that you can overexpose yourself. And I think there is a time maybe now and then -- you got to think of it this way. I play golf twelve months a year, basically, between the United States and Australia, and most other sport stars have at least a three- to five-month break from football, NBA, to ice hockey, they get away from it all. And I can understand, yes, when they come back everybody wants to have interviews. But because my duration of time goes for a long period of time, I think sometimes it is better to just slow it down a little bit, and that is the pure and simple reason. It's got nothing to do with The Masters, nothing to do with anything like that. It just seemed like it has been an onslaught the last couple of years, basically, where you just keep going and keep going and keep doing; interviews every time I go in the office. I have to get on the phone and do interviews, and I always call people back when they want to do the interview. I call them on the phone in Australia all the time, so it is just a matter of slowing it down and not overexposing.
Q. By overexposure, you just mean --
GREG NORMAN: Too much. Too many interviews. I mean, it almost becomes redundant. There is redundancy in a lot of the articles. I think it is better off having a break and boy, you find out after a couple of months, hey, you know, there is something different going on and something refreshing is happening, which is good. And it will be better for you guys and better for me.
Q. U.S. Open two weeks Oakland Hills; you were tied 15th there in '85. Any thoughts on Oakland Hills?
GREG NORMAN: No, I don't have too many thoughts on Oakland Hills. I don't remember the golf course that well. I remember 18. I think 18 is one of the finest finishing holes in the game of golf from what my memory is. But overall, the golf course is a fairly long golf course. Seems like it sets up a little bit left to right, again, I don't remember a whole lot. So that is -- I am just looking forward to getting in there on Monday to see it. I know the greens are very small and very quick. I remember 18 is small and pitched from back to front, so you know, it is a two to three iron second shot into that green.
Q. When you say Monday, you mean the Monday of the Open or --
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, Monday of the Open.
Q. You are not going up ahead of time?
GREG NORMAN: No.
Q. Playing next week?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I am going to play -- I will give you a rundown to the PGA if you need it. Playing the Buick, U.S. Open, Hartford, Western, The British, Buick, PGA International World Series.
Q. Why did you pick The Memorial as your first tournament back?
GREG NORMAN: Because the fish has been good for the last three weeks, that is about it. I mean, the sail fishing down in Mexico is excellent when the full moon right at the end of April, early May and this year the full moon fell around the first few weeks of May so by the time you'd finish fishing there for a couple of weeks, you got to get back and take sometime off, and I mean I would love to play Colonial. I like Colonial as a golf course. I like to play the Byron Nelson, but there is a sometime when you got to stop somewhere and this tournament does -- I love this tournament, probably more than all of them. Outside the Majors and the TPC's, I love this one because they look after you hear. It is a good course, good practice facilities, you are getting ready for a major in a couple of weeks so it gives you that opportunity to focus in on that. So it is an easy one to pick up and say this is going to be the first one.
Q. How many fish did you catch?
GREG NORMAN: Sail fish?
Q. Find out what the limit is first.
GREG NORMAN: No, there is no limit on sail fish. Maybe probably average 13 an afternoon, so pretty good fishing.
Q. What do you do with them?
GREG NORMAN: You release them. You real lease them. You just bring them with the boat and you cut the line and let them swim off, so... There is no kill factor in sail fishing.
Q. Never mounted one?
GREG NORMAN: No, I have not. I have never mounted them.
Q. Greg, if you are lucky enough for a repeat, we are going to get a victory chat, a conversation afterwards; you are not overexposed to the point where if you win on Sunday, you won't come in here and talk to us?
GREG NORMAN: Don't be so sensitive, oh, God. Of course, I will come in and talk to you. No, you are missing the point. I am talking about my time off. I am talking about when I am back in the office, you know, when I am home, because when I am home I do spend a lot of time on the phone to Australia. I do spend a lot of time on the phone with England with reporters and spend a lot of time with reporters here. So those are the times when you really look at the day, they can take up to three to four hours a day when -- of each time, you are not doing it everyday all day. But there is times when you go in the office and you'd like to do a lot of other things, but you have to sit down and return phone calls. And when you do get into that mode, you get stuck in there and then all of a sudden your day is kind of lost and it is a little bit out of balance. I am only talking about that. I am still coming into the interview room. I am still talking to everybody if they want to talk to me in the locker room or anywhere in the golf tournament. I mean, yeah, that is something that I feel obligated to do and I think, as I said before, we all need to work together and if we all do that, everything is going to do there profession the right way.
Q. Did you have any dark moment on your vacation, just a time when you know, the loss really hit you, and you had to get through that philosophically or was it all upbeat?
GREG NORMAN: Only time that happened was Tuesday after the Open -- I mean, after The Masters -- see how good I am blocking things out. Tuesday after the Masters, I was angry with myself. That was the Tuesday of Harbour Town. Monday I was fine. Tuesday, after it I was very angry with myself, just for the emotion of everything, and by the time I got back in the office and I got home, and all that stuff, that was the only time. After that, it was gone. I have said this before, I am a very resilient guy. It is going to take a bigger bullet than that to stop me. So, on the holiday, no, I was very reflective on the holiday. I like doing that. I like to be analytical and put myself back into the situation and say "what would you do again if you had to do it again," and only 2 shots that I would probably do again.
Q. When you say you were angry, did you have to kind of step back and go, look it, say something to yourself to go away or did you just let it dissipate itself?
GREG NORMAN: I will tell you best thing I can explain to you is that when I think about what you would say if it was your son who played the 18th hole, played The Masters and then shot 78 and he came home distraught. What would you as the father say to your son. You'd say, I am proud of you; did a great job; you tried the best you could. It is only a game; you are going to wake up tomorrow. There is going to be another tournament. That is what you say to yourself. I mean, because that is what I would do with my son, wrap my arms around him and say, look, I am proud of you. You did the best you could. You didn't win it. You came in second blah, blah, blah, all the right positive things you would say to your son or your daughter or any situation like that. That is what you have to do with yourself. If you could do it to yourself, it is a lot easier. I know I put myself very high up -- I push myself to a very, very high level. I like to do that, not in golf but, in business as well, everything, that is the level I like to maintain, but you know, even at that level, you still got to treat yourself like you would treat your son or your daughter or anybody so that is the best way I can put it to the way I walk away from all this feeling, hey, it is okay. It is not the end of the world. And that is what I would say to my son.
I have seen him make a shot to win in the playoffs, to get into the playoffs of a basketball game and then see him lose it. He gets upset. You say, hey, you did great; I am proud of you, you know, and you leave it at that and he feels good, because like all these 7,500 letters makes you feel good; people came up to you and said, hey, we are proud of you, that is -- there is more out there than just the letters too. So that is the easiest way for me to break down how I got reflective on the boat, stuff like that.
Q. If you made 2 bad swings, why were you angry with yourself on Tuesday?
GREG NORMAN: Because I don't shoot 78s pretty much. I said that to Laura, I said, I don't shoot 78s. I played bad golf at Doral and I didn't shoot 78 there under the circumstances at Doral I told you guys I really didn't play pretty good. Masters, I was playing pretty good. That is why I was angry at myself for that.
Q. Any of those 7,500 letters evoke emotions? Did you get teary-eyed?
GREG NORMAN: Oh, God, yeah, I didn't read all 7,500 plus letters, but the ones I did read I'd sit back there in the plane or in my chair; sit back and read that stuff, yeah, they are very, very special. We have kept them all. We have kept every single one of them.
Q. Where did they come from? What countries, for example?
GREG NORMAN: Everywhere. They have come from foreign countries, foreign languages. Mostly -- I mean, a lot of it came from English speaking nations of course, but I have had them from all through Europe, from Germany, Japan, and you know, even Indonesia places where I have built golf courses, people have written to me, those types of things.
Q. Did you have to have some of them translated?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, we did. But they are not going to write some nasty letter to you so you pretty much get the gist of what the letter is all about.
Q. That was my next question, any nasty--
GREG NORMAN: Well, I didn't see any unless Frank screened them all. Frank is saying only two. I read a couple of nasty articles, but -- (LAUGHTER) I think that is just a reality check. Figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.
Q. When you had one of your greatest victories whichever one, the percentage of response would have been what, half of this, a quarter of this?
GREG NORMAN: Not probably even a tenth.
Q. Not even close?
GREG NORMAN: Not even close. You are talking 500 to 600 letters a week to getting seven and a half thousand letters and they are still coming in and that is the -- actually, see you can't comprehend the amount of mail that comes in.
Q. What does that say about people that when you win they don't write you to say "nice going" but when you lose they react?
GREG NORMAN: I think the reaction of the people because they saw how genuine I was at the end of the tournament and they just saw how -- and they related to that because they say they want their kids to be that way or they wish they were that way. I have had letters from guys who -- who are Tour players who were out there on the satellite tours and stuff like that; I have had letters from the regular Tour players, but one letter from a guy who was leading a tournament right after The Masters and he went double bogey, double bogey; he said to himself, God, what would Greg Norman do right now. And he went on to win the tournament. He said -- basically he said I admire the way you played the last few holes; the way you came back, and he never won a tournament before and he came back to win by a shot and those type of things mean a lot because obviously, affecting all walks of life. From ex-presidents of the United States who write you letters and say things that you know -- it affects a lot of people.
Q. Have you watched any tapes of that final round?
GREG NORMAN: No. (Pointing to head) I have got it right here. (LAUGHTER)
Q. What victory did you get the greatest response?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, probably 1993 British. I got a lot of good response from the Canadian Open when I won in 1991. That was pretty good too. But I would say the 1993 British.
Q. Are you saying you got a letter from an ex-president of the United States in this group that you are talking about?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah.
Q. Would you identify him?
GREG NORMAN: No. I don't want to identify him.
Q. Not many living. Was he Republican? (LAUGHTER).
GREG NORMAN: What was that?
Q. Is he a Republican?
GREG NORMAN: I think he is a Republican --
Q. You talked about how much this tournament means to you. What would it mean to you to win it again to win it back-to-back?
GREG NORMAN: Well, obviously, it would be great because, you know, I'd like to get back in flowing with my game and especially with the three Majors coming up so quickly, that is the thing that June, July, August is tough on us because you really don't take a break. I mean, for the next 10 weeks I am only taking about five, ten days off because of the rapid approach of all of the Majors, so you really got to go -- you like to get in the saddle quickly and get going quickly and keep that moment going through that three month stretch, so it is all important. That is why a lot of the players are here because they all need to -- you know, I read a comment about Phil Mickelson in Steve's article this morning. He is here getting ready for his short game; getting ready for Detroit. So we are all here for a reason and a purpose, and Jack's created a great practice facility here for us to do it. I think we are all glad that he brought the tournament closer to the U.S. Open because it is a good week to have it before the U.S. Open.
Q. Did you hear from Jack after The Masters?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I did.
Q. Anything you can share from that?
GREG NORMAN: No, there is -- no, he just called up and, you know, expressed his wishes, and you know, he was sad to see how things happened. That type of thing.
Q. Been on that subject for quite a bit of time. What about your conditioning over the vacation, did you continue your conditioning routines and --
GREG NORMAN: I did. I took some equipment with me on the boat and got my routine going, not full-fledged routine but enough to keep myself in condition where I can get back off the boat and pick it up again and go to the level that I was prior to The Masters.
Q. Are you still working with Pete Draovitch?
GREG NORMAN: Yes.
Q. What kind of things are you working on more now with him as you go forward?
GREG NORMAN: Well, pretty much the same old routine, different exercises for lower back and abs, you know, the more you play golf, the more susceptible you are to a weak back or a bad back and I am. I have got pretty much the same condition as Freddie, but I like to keep myself fit to stop that flaring up, so we work on those type of things, the lower back; the abdomen, the back of the legs, the ham strings, the quads and those things, your lats and obviously cardiovascular keep yourself fit to walk around the golf course as wet as this, so I think it is a good two-hour session and we change our exercises all the time because you generally get into a boring state where you get think, oh, I have got to do this again so we have 3, 4 different routines during the week.
Q. Are you finding this sport is gravitating toward that where players are more in shape?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I think guys are now very meticulous about their condition. Because you know why? They see the longevity of the game. They see the Senior Tour. They see Hale and Irwin out there and these guys, Bob Murphy and Jim Colbert who didn't do a whole lot on the regular Tour but now they reach the Senior Tour, they are reaping the rewards of what the game of golf has given them. So the only way you can keep that into your fifties is to maintain your fitness from 35 to 55, and back in 20, 30 years ago, that wasn't the case. The guys kind of let themselves fall apart a little bit because there was no reason to keep your game going into the fifties, so everybody sees that and everybody wants to -- you know, when you hit 40, you think, God, I am only ten years from the Seniors and if I want to play in the seniors, I better keep myself in shape. That is when the guys go out there and they do what they are doing. Making a lot of money and enjoying the game again. So it is very important.
Q. Do you have any thoughts about the British Open, are you looking ahead to it at all?
GREG NORMAN: No, not at all. I haven't played Lytham & St. Annes since 1979. I missed the tournament, I think, it was in '87 because of an injury, so I can remember maybe three holes on the golf course, so I have got a lot of work to do when I get over there. So I am not looking forward to that yet. I have got a lot of other golf to play before I get there.
Q. You like anybody playing this week somebody playing well?
GREG NORMAN: I don't know who is playing well. I couldn't tell you who won the golf tournaments in the last six weeks. I actually asked Tony today so if I see them I could congratulate them. I think Mark O'Meara won in the last six weeks. Obviously Mark O'Meara got the hot hand right now. That is all I can say. Phil Mickelson won. He won Dallas. Obviously, Phil is playing pretty good. He has won a lot of money this year. Corey Pavin won Colonial. These are the guys who have won in the last four, five weeks and are the guys you got to think they have got their game in shape.
Q. What do you think of all the rookies that are winning this year?
GREG NORMAN: I think it is great. I think any game needs a breath of fresh air every now and then. It is great to see rookies come out and do that. It is good for the game. Good for exposure; good for them and that is what it is all about. Seeing new faces on the block.
Q. Is the Tour more competitive now than it has ever been in terms --
GREG NORMAN: No, the Tour has always been competitive, just the guys now get themselves a little bit more finally tuned because it is a full-fledged business now. There is no two ways about it. Professional golf is a business. Not saying it wasn't in the past, but it seems to be the way the guys are coming out of college and hitting the Tour now, they are hitting the Tour running; they are not crawling before they walk. They are running. Which is great. It is good for us because we know we have got to work that much harder to beat these young fellows.
WES SEELEY: Okay.
GREG NORMAN: Thanks.
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