Australian veteran golfer Greg Norman is odds on to return to the scene of the crime and resume his troubled relationship with the US Masters in April next year.
Norman qualified for Augusta National when he turned back the clock to finish tied third at the British Open last month.
But he turned down an invitation to this year’s final major, the US PGA Championship next week, and had kept tight lipped about Augusta.
But lining up for the US Senior Open in Colorado Springs this week and with the competitive juices flowing, he said: “I feel great that I’ve played my way into Augusta….so I can look forward to that come April, play myself into [shape].”
Settling in to married life with new bride Chris Evert, Norman must feel confident about taking on the old dear again.
He will be forever remembered for his infamous final-round meltdown in 1996 when he blew a six-stroke lead to finish second behind his long-time nemesis Nick Faldo.
Norman, having played the British Open, Senior British Open and now in the midst of the US Senior Open, says he has realised this month that his competitive nature is as strong as ever.
“I have been disappointed in my two finishes the past two weeks, which is a very good sign,” he said.
“It’s is one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make in golf, turning down the PGA,” the 53 year old said.
Meanwhile, Norman has confirmed he will play in the Johnnie Walker Classic at The Vines course in Perth next February.
Tiger Woods for Australian Open?
But Norman won’t be a starter at the Australian Open at Royal Sydney this year because of a clash with his own event, the Shark Shootout in the US.
However, he will remain in the sights of Golf Australia, with the big announcement this week that the Aussie Open will remain in Sydney till 2015.
Golf Australia has already begun moves to lure a number of internationals – including Rocco Mediate, Mike Weir and Retief Goosen – to join the likes of Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy and defending champion Craig Parry to the event this year.
Golf Australia’s tournament boss Trever Herden said that while several of the world’s leading players would be approached to play this year, even Tiger Woods remained a possibility in the future despite a $4 million appearance fee.
“Tiger cannot play this year because of his injury but I’m sure he’d love to return to Australia and play the Open,” Herden said.
“We now have substantial backing and we are seeing the Open as an investment so it’s not out of the question we would invite him to play.
“We will now be chasing players like Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Vijay Singh.”
Scott Strange leads Aussies at World Golf Championship
First timer Scott Strange leads a solid Aussie contingent after the first round of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron Ohio, just two shots behind leader Retief Goosen.
Strange, playing in his first ever World Golf Championship event finished the day at the top of the Aussie pile with a solid two under par 68 and is tied for sixth place in a group of 14 players including Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Rocco Mediate.
“I played great,” said a delighted Strange after the round. “I struck the ball nicely after about the third hole on. The golf course is there to be played a certain way and I just played it the way I could. I could have holed a few more putts and had a couple less but at the end of the day two under is a good score.”
One shot behind Strange is fellow first timer Brendan Jones, Rod Pampling, Peter Lonard and Adam Scott who are in a tie for 20th place.
2002 Champion Craig Parry, Nick O’Hern and Stuart Appleby all finished their rounds at even par with Appleby making an incredible comeback after blowing out to five over at the turn.
Two time World Golf Championship winner Geoff Ogilvy was satisfied with his one over par but could have finished even, except for missing a short putt for birdie at the last.