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Thursday, 12 July 2001
WEDNESDAY, 11TH JULY

GREG NORMAN

I’m here to play golf. The only reason to be here in Scotland is to play some tournament golf before next week. The game’s all right. Even when you play your best you want it one notch higher. All in all considering I haven’t played much tournament golf I think that’s the most important part for me – to play tournament golf hence being here at Loch Lomond.
I will be playing here, British Open, International back in the States, PGA Championship and the NEC. That’s it. I’ll be done pretty much by September.

Australian teams and individuals are doing especially well at the moment, do you want to make a statement on behalf of Australian golf?
I think we’ve enough young studs out there. I think it’s a rub on effect, absolutely. Australia being a small country, most sports men and women know each other and we get very enthusiastic and our support and response to them no matter what sport they are playing, such as Pat Rafter in the final of Wimbledon and the Wallabies this coming weekend. I know a lot of the guys and of course we all like to spur each other on. I don’t think that will inspire me. Being here will do that.

How do you help Baddeley and Scott cope when being told they are the next Tiger Woods?
Well I really don’t approach them on that issue. If they asked me a question on it, then I would do. Both of them approach it totally differently. They both have a different approach towards the game and I just tell them to be their own person. Never try to get in the shadow of somebody else and try and emulate somebody else. You like your ideals and goals to be at a certain level, but if you want to try and beat an individual – I don’t like to hear somebody say they are going out just to beat Tiger Woods – there are a lot of other great players out there. Yes, if you do beat Tiger Woods you will probably beat a lot of other players, but if you get into a one-on-one match then you are playing the individual and not the tournament, that’s what I have said. Get out of the shadow and do your own thing. Whatever that is, satisfy your own needs and desires and reach the level you want to teach your own was.

Ian Woosnam said last week he didn’t enjoy playing golf after 25 years. Can you relate to that?
Absolutely. Do you still enjoy writing? Ian’s right. I think as we get older, we find there is more to life than what we do on a constant basis day in, day out. Your life changes as you get older and he is absolutely correct. I enjoy life more now than when I was on top of my game. Because when I was on top of my game you don’t see what life is all about. You are only in that cocoon of being the best player you could possibly be and you forget about doing a lot of other things. You can’t do both. I am enjoying very much what I do now and, absolutely, golf is not my highest priority. I have a lot of other things that interest me. I realise there are a lot of other things in life outside the game of golf. I think that’s the most important thing. That doesn’t say I don’t enjoy the game. I still enjoy practising because I love to compete against myself. And as long as I have that competitive drive then I will continue. I think you have to accept you are not as competitive.

Reverse the role. When I was 21 to 25 you never think you will be 46 to 48. You never think about that 25 year time span. You just think you can get out there and rip the heck out of it and play aggressive golf. Now at 46 or 47 you look back on it and you have to accept that time goes on and if you keep yourself as fit as you possibly can – I can’t hit the ball 330 yards like I used to, or the two iron over the trees. Now instead of going over there I have to go round or under them. But that’s life. You have to make the adjustments to those changes and it depends on how you make those adjustments. I thought I made a pretty good decision in 1993 in preparation for those adjustments and I can sit here now and say that the direction I gave myself seven years ago was the right direction to take.

I would say I would be an average hitter of the golf ball nowadays. Young kids nowadays fly it over 300 yards without a problem. I know I was one of the few players who hit it 300 yards when I was 21 to 25. Technology has definitely made a difference, but those younger players I would say are more technically correct golfers at a young age now than at any time in the history of golf and that’s because we have more technically correct strikers and teachers, not only in golf equipment but in video equipment and computers to break down what our swing is and what it should be. I could honestly say I wish I had the equipment they have nowadays when I was 19, 20 or 21. You would eliminate the semi-faults at that age because you can see them. In my time you would put on the pause and there would be a big blur. You couldn’t decipher where the clubhead was or the angle of the club or the plane of the club. Nowadays you can e mail it on the range to your teacher in Florida. You don’t have to have your teacher there. It’s a great advantage. That’s why I think you are going to see over the next seven to 12 years a lot of Tiger Woods’s. He’ll be the norm, not the exception.

I would say 85 per cent of the guys work out now. Back then when I did, there was maybe one other guy in the fitness trailer with me. Again, everything is reversed. The whole cycle of where things were 15-20 years ago is the total opposite to now. That’s why I think golf is going to be so much more beneficial across the boards. You are going to see more competition, better scores, see these players push the envelope and, quite honestly they have no fear any more. They don’t care. They have the ability and the physical prowess and the mental training to get up there and take dead aim and take the consequences. If it works it does, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. Let’s move on. Hit the next shot. Get to the next tournament. When we played, if you missed the cut you had to go and pre-qualify on the Monday. That was a big guillotine over everybody’s neck too. Nowadays it’s just let it go and shoot it low.
With all this emphasis on training and practice, do you think it’s a shame some don’t take on board the other things in life?
Unfortunately you never see that until it’s there. How many times has somebody told us to do something and you don’t really do it then you wake up and say, boy, they were right. That's just human nature. You get so ingrained in what you are doing. That’s why I call it the cocoon effect. It’s very difficult to pull yourself out of it. You push and push and all of a sudden their game goes. It’s human nature. Maybe one day you wake up like Ian Woosnam and say, boy, golf isn’t the be all and end all. Seeing your kids grow up. My kids are probably ages with the kids out there. You see the evolution take place. It’s been a wonderful process to see how things change over a period of time. I don’t regret my position right now or anythin. I quite enjoy it and I enjoy every aspect of what I’ve done to get where I am right now.
I realistically think I wouldn’t come here if I didn’t think I could win. I would not come to take up a space in the field. If I don’t feel like I’ve got the competitive ability to win I’ve got a lot of other competitive things to do to allow me to achieve that.

Marking time?
No, not me. I did a pretty good job in 1993 to structure myself where I wouldn’t want to depend on that. That’s not my nature. I do not believe in status quo. I want to go out there and find something that keeps my vertical integration going; keep growing, keep developing, figure out something to work on; something that takes you beyond the status quo. No, I won’t mark time. I won’t play the senior tour on a full time schedule. But I will gladly go and play if I feel the desire to. I will play a senior major or tournament if I feel like going, but I can promise you I will not be playing 16, 20 or 30 tournaments on the Senior Tour, or like one guy who has never missed one.

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