No flip-flopping for Greg Norman

GREG NORMAN was wearing thongs and swatting at flies but he wasn’t in the Australian outback.

Norman was in the media centre at The Lakes Golf Club shortly after completing his final round of the 2011 Emirates Australian Open.

The thongs (flip-flops to some) were due to a blister on his foot and it just seemed to be one persistent fly that had taken an immense liking to The Great White Shark.

The fly survived numerous attempted death blows, the 56 year old demonstrated on the weekend he still has quite a swing on him, before finally succumbing to a concerted joint effort by Norman and media centre overlord Kathy Shearer.

Norman was hoping the flies would be just one more hurdle for the visiting US Presidents Cup team.

“They’ll get them. A few of [the Americans] have been getting them this week but I hope it is more,” the International Team captain said.

Royal Melbourne isn’t exactly the wilds of the bush either but to many Australia  is still a strange far away land where the cars have bonnets (They wear hats?) rather than hoods and it is really not a good idea to root for a lot of  people if you value your reputation.

Norman was predicting elements such as home ground advantage and crowd support would help get the Internationals over the line in a very close Presidents Cup this week.

“I am very confident the guys will play extremely well. It will be closer than what we think. It is not going to be 1998 when we won by easy points with a stroll on the last day. I think it will come down to a couple of matches,” he said.

The Shark was asked if he thought the Australian fans were worth and extra player and secondly if he wanted them to “go crazy”.

“I would like to think we have a lot more than an extra player. We have the home field advantage. Come the weekend, there will be more enthusiasm. People take time to build into a tournament. In match play they will get to know the non-Australians and get to understand it. They knew Ernie and Retief. They probably don’t know Charl very well. Ryo Ishikawa, they have to get to know him, Y.E., Kim…I’ve got to get to know Kim as well.”

He was hoping for the fans to show their enthusiasm but respect the game.

“I want the fans to be crazy but respectful. It is the game of golf. They have to be respectful to the game and their opponents. Be crazy between shots and give the rah-rah-rah. I love when Pat Rafter or Lleyton Hewitt play. The Fanatics are there. Do you guys know the Fanatics? They get up between each point and go rah-rah-rah, go Lleyton go Lleyton whatever. As soon as the tennis starts, they stop. That’s what I’d like to spectators to do, really pull for the guys, for the team.”

For Norman, this week could be the culmination of a long held dream.

“When Tim Finchem  (PGA Tour Commissioner) asked me in 2007 if I would be interested in being the captain, I initially said no. I said I would only be interested if I could captain in Australia.

“I did not expect to be the captain in 2009 but he said if I captained in 2009 he was pretty sure I’d be captain in Australia. I said I’d do it.

“My whole goal along the line was to be captain in Australia. It was important for me. I have supported Australian golf tremendously well for 35 years and I was on the winning team in 98 here. I wanted to bring the team down here to win it as the captain. It was a big mission statement of mine back in 2007 and here we are we start tomorrow.”

The only desire now is that he doesn’t have to do it wearing thongs.  Last time he spent his entire Presidents Cup Captaincy week with his shoulder in a sling.

“[The foot] is pretty bad. Hopefully I don’t have to wear flip-flops for the rest of the week,” he said.

One thing he won’t be doing is flip-flopping over decisions and asking for too much advice and consensus.

“I learnt a lot from San Francisco,” he said. “My captaincy will definitely be different this coming week. I am going to be more a captain instead of seeking advice and other people’s opinions and trying to make everybody happy. At the end of the day you’ve got to make the decisions. By making those firm decisions, the guys will realise that this is the captain speaking, this is what he wants us to do. We’ll go and do it and score the point.”

Norman has a number of young members on his team who once looked to him for their golfing inspiration. Now it is the other way around.

“I love watching what these guys have done. They’ve watched me play. Now I am watching them play. To see them do what they did at Augusta this year, it was the first time I sat on the edge of my seat ever watching the game of golf. On my phone I have a photograph of the four Aussies on the leader board. They slotted Tiger Woods in there just to mess it up. They had Tiger just above Geoff Ogilvy. I was ticked off. I wanted them to drop Tiger’s name down one. That’s how proud I was. I was watching TV in my house and taking pictures of the TV because four Australians had a chance to win the Masters. They have watched me and now I am watching them.”


Leave a Reply