GREG NORMAN will be helping celebrate his recent 54th birthday with a serious tilt at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth.
After his stunning British Open performance last year, Norman is looking to start fine tuning his game for his 23rd trip to the US Masters.
In the ultimate fairy tale that almost was, Norman led the British Open at Royal Birkdale by two strokes after three rounds last July before succumbing to finish in a tie for third place. It was good enough however to earn him an invitation to the Masters in April.
“I’ve had some great experiences there and I’ve had some bad experiences there, but at the same time it all neutralizes over my whole career there,” Norman said this week.
With that experience helping him take a mature approach, he’s aiming to make the Masters cut.
“I’ve always been a believer: Age is really not anything but a number, as long as you keep yourself in good shape,” he said. “That’s why I don’t really need to be like a 21-year-old or an 18-year-old thinking about (the Masters) months and months and months in advance.”
At the Vines Resort and Country Club this week Norman is up against a hot field that includes Colombian star Camilo Villegas, American Anthony Kim, England’s Lee Westwood and title holder, 2008 Australasian Tour Order of Merit winner Mark Brown of New Zealand.
All eyes will be on the charismatic Norman, a man who has won over 80 international titles and two major championships.
“If I come and play a golf tournament, I’m not just going to come and play. I’m going to try to give it my best shot. Sometimes you miss the cut and sometimes you do very well. As long as you know, you’re giving it 101 percent, which I’ll do this week,” Norman said.
Winner of the 1994 Johnnie Walker Classic in Phuket, Thailand, Norman, a former world number one, has kept himself in great physical shape despite his growing business interests around the world which includes golf course designing, a winery and apparel.
Norman’s challengers could well be two of the world’s most exciting young talents.
World number nine Villegas and the 11th-ranked Kim won two titles each on the US PGA Tour last season and know that getting their names onto the Johnnie Walker Classic trophy, which includes great names like Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam and Norman, would add to their growing reputation.
The Johnnie Walker Classic is tri-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia, Asian Tour and European Tour.
The Johnnie Walker Classic will be broadcast in Australia by Network Ten.
Thursday 19 Feb & Friday 20 Feb: TEN HD: 2:30pm to 7:30pm, EST & WST
Saturday 21 February: TEN: 12pm – 5pm EST & WST
Sunday 22 February: TEN: 12pm – 5pm EST & WST