GREG NORMAN will pass up likely his final opportunity to play the British Open at St Andrews in July, saying he’d rather see a young player take his place.
The two-time Open Championship winner turned 60 in February this year and this would have been his last year of automatic qualification.
“I’m not going to walk up to the first tee and feel like I’m taking up the space of another young kid who could actually learn a heck of a lot from it,” Norman said in an interview with the BBC.
“I don’t believe in doing that, I think it’s so unfair to do that.”
It was hoped Norman would join fellow former champions Tom Watson and Nick Faldo in a last hurrah at St Andrews.
The Shark last played the Open in 2009 and does have a point in that when he withdrew due to a shoulder injury in 2010 his place was taken by a youngster named Jason Day.
But the situation is a little murky in that Norman said last year he wouldn’t play in the championship again after a falling out with the R & A and the European Tour over sponsorship issues with rival watch companies Rolex and Omega.
“If you want the truth, I’ve played in my last Open and it’s all down to the way the Royal and Ancient and the European Tour have handled my whole situation,” he said at the time.
“‘It has left a pretty sour taste in my mouth, a bad feeling after what I have done in the game. I’ve nothing against the R&A and the European Tour but, quite frankly, the way they go about their business is not the way I do it.”
Norman this week also pointed to his lack of golf practice as another factor.
“I don’t practice anymore. Do I play? Yes, I play a little bit.”
“For me to get ready and go and play at St Andrews, I need to practice and I don’t have the time to practice because I’m doing two USGA events for Fox in the weeks leading up to the British Open,” Norman said. “I would’ve had zero time to practice.”