March 27, 1996
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
WES SEELEY: Phil was spotted playing 17 at about this moment,
so, we will speak first --
GREG NORMAN: That is Greg, I am Phil.
WES SEELEY: So tell me, how does it feel like standing on
the other side of the ball? How has it been going these last couple
of days out there?
GREG NORMAN: Been going great, I think. All up. I think probably
all the other players that have been here are probably saying
the same thing. The golf course is in the best condition we have
ever seen; more grass on it than we have ever seen it. From a
variety standpoint, it is probably equal, if not a shade ahead
of a golf course like Muirfield Village and Augusta National,
phenomenal job getting this golf course right.
WES SEELEY: And your game?
GREG NORMAN: My game is okay, yeah, last week. I have just taken
some time off; spring break with the kids and just started working
on my game about four, five days ago.
Q. Greg, was there common thread through the four rounds
at Honda and Bay Hill as to what you might have had most difficulty
GREG NORMAN: You mean --
Q. Anything in particular?
GREG NORMAN: No. I just probably think sooner or later you are
not going to play as well as you'd like, I suppose. Hey, the
Magic got beaten last night after 40 games at home. I guess I
can miss a cut after 40 tournaments, I suppose. But, no, I mean,
you never like to miss cuts, and especially by the way I finished
at Bay Hill. You know, that is not the most sterling way of completing
a round. And I really -- you know, there is no really honest
answer to it except I just played poorly over the finishing stretches.
Q. Greg, do you think you can shoot 24 under again?
GREG NORMAN: Yes.
Q. How much is the course different than it was two years
ago; condition, firmness?
GREG NORMAN: It is better conditioned. The golf course is better
conditioned. I think the fairways got more grass on them. The
greens are putting better. So depending on the weather, what
happens with the conditions, if we get any rain over tonight
or during tomorrow, that will ease up the golf course a little
bit, and then if the wind stays pretty much from the direction
it is blowing, you should see some pretty good scores around here,
just because of the condition of the golf course.
Q. Be lower than last year?
GREG NORMAN: I would think so. Last year the golf course got
very firm and very fast. This is not the golf course -- the way
it is designed, it is not conducive to really firm, fast conditions;
greens being very firm because they are just not too many areas
you can hit them on to.
Q. Greg, how hard would it be for the trend of the last
three weeks to continue this week for a first-time winner to win
here at this tournament?
GREG NORMAN: I don't see any reason why it couldn't. I think
it is great for the game of golf to see that happening. I think
any time you see young kids coming through, I mean, I can only
relate to the first time when I won how nervous I was and how
excited I was. And somebody asked me this question the other
day, and I think what happens is when you get a rookie winning
for the first time in the first events, it gives encouragement
for all the other rookies who haven't won. So when the second
guy wins the following week, then more encouragement is thrown
out to these guys. So when the third had guy wins, I wouldn't
be at all surprised if you see a rookie coming on because it is
not the quality of their play; it is the quality of their belief.
And these guys hit the ball just as good, if not better, than
some of the other good golfers out there; named golfers, I should
say. So. You know, I wouldn't be at all surprised. I wouldn't
be at all surprised somebody winning at Augusta; there is no reason
why they can't because they have got the ability to do it, and
I think it is just great for the game of golf if this type of
thing does happen.
Q. Does this current crop of younger players strike you
as being less intimidated by circumstances, named players and
things like that, than they used to be before the Nike Tour?
GREG NORMAN: I haven't really noticed that. I think -- I think
the last three winners have -- seem like they got a lot more belief
in themselves than what I have seen from some of the other first
time winners and, you know, McCarron last week, you know, just
by the way he was walking down the fairway, and felt good about
himself and when he made a putt, he put a smile on his face.
That shows confidence that. It is good to see that, and that
means the guy is going to go a long way because he wasn't, as
you say, intimidated at the moment because he was enjoying the
moment for what he created for himself.
Q. Greg, I spoke to Gordon Sherry, he said that you are
playing a practice round with him -- you might be playing a practice
round with him at Augusta?
GREG NORMAN: Yes.
Q. What do you think of him as a player? And have you seen
GREG NORMAN: I played him the first two rounds of the British
Open, that is only the two rounds I'd ever played with him. First
time I met him on the first tee. So I was impressed. I mean,
again, I think you got two great amateurs out there with Gordon
and Tiger Woods both two totally opposite type of players, both
two opposite style of individuals. One is big, bulky, hefty individual
who has got a great attitude and disposition. And you have got
Tiger Woods got a demeanor like a bull terrier approach to it.
He loves to get out on the golf course; loves to play in a viscious
fashion. He is very aggressive with the golf swing and very aggressive
with his play. Two of them are 180 degrees away from each other,
but they both equal let have the same amount of potential. So
I wouldn't be surprise to see both of those two somewhere down
Q. Do you think we put too much pressure on these guys?
When I spoke to Gordon, he has done 150 interviews and he is
turning pro in two week's time. He said he is trying to finish
university. He said his head was a spinner he is not even a professional
yet. It is the same with Tiger Woods. Do you think it is a too
much pressure on them?
GREG NORMAN: Well, if they are going to be professionals, they
had better accept the pressure, learn how to deal with it early
on in life than finding out that you can't deal with it when you
are successful. Again, everybody deals with it differently, and,
I mean, I can speak for -- I didn't know when he was turning pro,
so that is his decision to make that. So, obviously people are
going to say, well you are a great amateur, we expect you to go
out there and win this and win that. You've just got to put all
that aside and play golf. Whereas Tiger, on the other hand, I
mean, I have been extremely impressed by the way he has handled
his situation in the United States; because he has been extremely
successful. He does play more golf probably than most professionals,
and the amateur circuit is very busy in between intercollegiate
golf and U.S. Same with Gordon Sherry, I am sure these guys have
are had the experience by the sheer fact of travel and being exposed
to the media during different championships, so they know how
to deal with it. So I don't see that as being anymore pressure
for them unless they put it on themselves.
Q. Greg, you have had two wins so far this year, has that
sort of form stayed with you; do you feel pretty solid so far?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I won more money last Sunday at the Medalist
than did I the Sunday before. So, you know, I was glad I have
played last Sunday. My form is pretty good. No, I haven't got
any complaints about it, and, you know, I was just answering the
question before, what happened. I just finished Bay Hill on Friday
and paid the price didn't bother me. I was happy to go home,
basically, and spend the weekends with the kids. It was unplanned
for. So but my form is good your keys around this course of course
you shot the 24 under before you know what to do your strategy
is pretty well set what are the keys for you to do well. I think
the key down here if your iron play. You have got to the hit
your iron shots good hit them in the right parts of the greens,
again it depends on what happens with the weather. The weather
rains tonight or tomorrow sometime, it completely changes how
you play the golf course; you can be more aggressive with some
of your iron play. With the fairways they are very, very good.
They are fairly soft there is not a lot of run into them, so
the softer the fairway the wider the fairway so you can just get
up there and hit had them fairly hard if you want to. So the
golf course is a second shot golf course.
Q. Is there a special feel four here a lot of players are
saying it is sort of feels more like a major everybody is here,
there is a lot of money a lot of effort goes into the tournament
do you feel that or do you just kinds of low key it or how do
you approach that?
GREG NORMAN: I think it is just like any other golf tournament
you try and go in there and just prepare and play and practice.
One thing that is noticed as a player here just takes longer
to play practice rounds on a Wednesday because everybody is out
there grinding on a Wednesday, when if its any other golf tournament
like last week or two weeks ago, you play a practice rounds four
hours 5 minutes. Here is it is 5 and a half hours. So just goes
to show you the guys are little bit more keen to learn about the
golf course or pick up some hint that they can use there in the
next four days.
Q. Do you prefer this course the situate now with the ball
more wall to wall green like Augusta, you have or did you like
it better when it was a little wilder scruffier rough around the
edges, you know, the rough wasn't cleared out as much or would
you liability somewhere in between how would you ideally see in
GREG NORMAN: I'd like to see this golf course the way it was
last year and the year before. This year we have had a with it
more rough putt on the fairways grown on the fairways upon 11,
10, on 9, on 7. They have grown a little bit more rough around
some of the greens, whereas a year ago if you missed a green the
ball would roll 20, 30 yards away now the ball is being him a
little bit and so it is a fairly because the grass has got a great
Bermuda base to it had right grass to it is not that difficult
a shot as compared to having a 20 or 30 yard clip and run shot.
So I think my preference would be to see the golf course with
no rough, firm fairways, and playable firmness in the greens not
extremely you know, come pre type greens, like Augusta national.
That really makes you play that way because I can just give you
example a hole like the 10th fairway if you miss the ball a little
bit with your tee shot to the right it is all fairway there it
runs off into the trees. Into the pine needles there is just
enough rough there to hold it up it stops you from going into
the trees, and there is not enough rough there to stop you from
hitting it on the green, so you know, I think I'd much rather
she that all gone.
Q. Speaking Augusta national, building on this week, next
week, your chances going in building home over the next couple
GREG NORMAN: My chances?
Q. Yeah, building momentum this week?
GREG NORMAN: I am not weird about building momentum. My momentum
will be concentrated on this week. Then I have got a week off,
so I have got time to if I have got some weak necessary in my
game which you always have your game is never 100%, I will work
on that at home, and then go ahead to Augusta and just approach
it like anything else. And I think if you don't play good here,
it doesn't mean necessarily mean you are not going to play at
Augusta. I mean, guys can switch their games around very, very
quickly. From one week to another, so you know, it is nice to
play good. Nice to put a win under your belt early on or nice
to win here, going into Augusta, but it really with the week off
for me, I have done enough I have got enough time to readjust.
Q. Just comment on the purse increased here first prize
got from 540 (550) to 630. I don't know does that make any difference
at all to the pros or are you I mean sit all by the size of the
purse this week?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I was surprised when I mentioned that was
the first prize. You take that and you take the tour's championship,
which was something like 500,000 last year, you are win ago million
bucks in two tournaments. My only comment on that is I think
it just throws the money list out of balance a little bit because
your guy can work extremely hard all year win 3 tournaments outside
the T. P. C. And the tour's championship or not even win, but
finish up there very, very close have a chance of get on the money
list and some guy can come win this and win the tour's championship
and have a lousy year wouldn't be a lousy year quite honestly.
But boom, you know, he has got a good chance of winning the money
list, so that is my only comment on that. I think we will probably
see and hear couple of years this will be a million dollars first
Q. Doesn't that put pressure on the other tournaments to
come up and isn't that what you guys want?
GREG NORMAN: Well, yeah we all wants the prize money to go up,
of course. I mean, we would like to have the leading money winner
making $2 million by the year 1998, which is I mean, I could have
made $2 million last year if I won the tour's championship that
was very, very feasible that someone will win 2 million bucks
in a year given the quality of tournaments and quality of sponsors
we have got out there. We need to have a tournament as a data
list to for the other tournaments to shoot at by making this what
is hit 3 point 5 had middle or 4 middle this year something like
that that will give something for the other tournaments to shoot
for because it is a big incentive for the players.
Q. I want to ask you about your merchandise. I see a lot
of your merchandise in a lot of up scale department stores what
is the status on that?
GREG NORMAN: The status.
Q. Is it doing well?
GREG NORMAN: Selling a lot clothes that is what we are doing.
Q. Are you ex expected to expand it any?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think we expanded now we have gone over
the threshold of just taking it out of just being golfing now
we are going into sports clothing and that is why the department
stores like the Dillons an the Bloomingdale's of the world are
taking it on because it is not just pure golf it is a sports line
and we have cross that threshold I'd think we are the first golfing
company to make that change crossing the threshold now we have
got the whole world that is opened up like pole low world or the
Ralph Lauren world or Donna Karan world and those type of things
so it is I am very excited about it because I never thought I
would be getting into that venture when you sit down and you go
to all the meetings and you see what is happening, you see where
we are expanding and the future pro tension of the company, it
is just phenomenal where we can really go. So that is because
we cross that threshold.
Q. Every year everybody brings up the fifth major. In
your opinion, can this ever be an Augusta, a Masters, could it
ever be in that mold?
GREG NORMAN: No. .
Q. Why not?
GREG NORMAN: Okay, there you go. Mainly because you got your
4 Majors if you make this a major will memorial can probably an
major if you make Memorial? A major probably another national
open somewhere out there in the world that has a lot of great
players win it could vie for another major, so I had think we
have our 4, we know we have got our four. Everybody bases their
major championship career on that, if you keep throwing different
tournaments in then it throws the entire history off the charts.
I don't even agree when I read where they down the U.S. Amateur
as a major championships some of the players do that type of stuff
because not a lot of us can play it in but we all play in the
4 Majors I think that is the most important thing. As long as
we keep them the same. Now I will take those aside, this is the
next best tournament that we all play in.
Q. Do you think people will generalize this as the fifth
major because obvious lit field is strong, the money, the 10
year exemption, do people?
GREG NORMAN: It is not a fifth major.
Q. Right, I mean, they?
GREG NORMAN: That is only my opinion. But.
GREG NORMAN: But you know you have to create another tournament
outside the Majors. You have to create another level of tournaments
outside the Majors, and Tim Finchem has done that with this tournament
and with the tour's championship. We have the Memorial turn which
has enormous amount of support from the players because it is
one of greatest tournaments we play this. So there are three
or four or 5 other turns if your Honor that we love to go out
and play in. So they are at another level. And I think that
is great you have always got to have the stature of the tournament
because that is why you where you get the supports of the players
like here. That is why you get Nicholas gets the support of the
players at his tournament because he does putt on a fine golf
Q. What do you like best about this tournament?
GREG NORMAN: This must be inside the PGA tour, is it?
GREG NORMAN: It is just great practice facilities. Golf course
is good. Preparation wise, getting ready, ideal position just
before THE MASTERS. I would like to see this tournament in May
if it is at all possible because then you know, again you have
got THE MASTERS, TPC, U.S. open, British Open, PGA one in each
month. And had whereas May right now yes we have the Memorial
but I think this would be a great tournament to have that in that
month but there are a lot of extenuating circumstances before
that issue could be addressed-- had from a pure practicality of
playing a tournament it is a great event. It is a great tournament
to play in.
WES SEELEY: Anything else for Greg Norman? All right. We
have Mr. Mickelson in the windows.
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