GREG NORMAN is returning to the scene of his 1986 British Open triumph feeling very positive after his amazing performance last year leading the tournament going into the final day at Royal Birkdale.
Norman was agonisingly close to becoming the oldest winner of a major event when he was overtaken by Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter.
As we reported last year, it was an inspiring performance for older golfers everywhere.
“A lot of people thought my performance at Birkdale was an anomaly in some ways,” Norman said recently.
“To me it wasn’t. It just convinces me even more of the fact that anybody, no matter how old they are or what position they are in life, if they really want to focus their mind onto doing something, it’s very of achievable.”
Norman isn’t discounting his chances at Turnberry this week, though he was more willing stake a claim for winning the Senior British Open at the Sunningdale Golf Club next week, putting his chances there at “high”.
“I’m definitely going to go into the British Open wanting to compete the best I can compete,” he said.
“That’s all I can say. Setting goals and making cuts, being in the last group, that really doesn’t even set in your mind. If you go in there and just do what I want to do, which is compete the best I can, then all those things should be taken care of.”
Norman wasn’t using his age as an excuse and was pushing his experience as a positive.
“I understand exactly my position, what my mind and my body can give me,” he said. “You always try and push those to another level no matter whether you’re No. 1 in the world or whether you’re 54 years old and going to play a few golf tournaments. You’ve always got to push yourself.
“I wouldn’t say I could win on any golf course. I couldn’t go to a 7,700-yard U.S. Open golf course, where the young swivel heads play, and feel like I can do it. That would be a big ask. But I can go and compete on some of these golf courses out there that, you know, 80 or 85 percent of them. I still hit the ball 300-plus yards when I want to. So it’s not like I’m hamstrung by the fact that I’m only hitting the ball 250 yards.”
He strongly believes that links golf gives experienced players with a bigger repertoire of shots an advantage.
“I think that’s the secret to it,” he said. “The younger generation nowadays that grew up with the modern technology hasn’t had the ability to teach themselves how to play certain shots.”
Norman is one 17 Australasians competing in this year’s open.
Mat Goggin and Rod Pampling are the latest additions to the field that includes Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Mark Brown NZL, Michael Campbell NZL, Daniel Gaunt, Josh Geary NZL, Richard Green, Greg Norman, Geoff Ogilvy, Terry Pilkadaris, Adam Scott, David Smail NZL, Tim Stewart, Michael Wright and Tim Wood.
The tournament begins on Thursday at The Ailsa Championship Course at Turnberry, Scotland.