TWO-TIME British Open winner Greg Norman says he won’t be returning to the hallowed event due to a dispute with organisers.
The 59 year old Aussie golfing legend is eligible to play the Open at St Andrew’s next year and many thought it would be the perfect opportunity for the Shark to bow out gracefully.
However, a British newspaper has reported Norman blasted the Royal and Ancient and European Tour saying: “The way they go about their business is not the way I do it.”
The row centres around two of golf’s major sponsors, watchmakers Rolex and Omega.
The Daily Mail reported that Norman, who represents Omega, reckons Rolex kept him out of playing in the pro-am for the Senior British Open — an event they sponsor — in 2012. Rolex deny this.
A month later, Norman was at Gleneagles and planned to be present to hear his friend, Ryder Cup captain Jose-Maria Olazabal announce his wildcards for the event. Again, Norman believes he was denied entry because of Rolex.
The Mail said Norman has now had enough and instead of playing the British Open at Royal Liverpool and the Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl this year will retire with his wife Kirsten to his holiday ranch in Colorado.
‘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,” Norman told the newspaper.
“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 won the British Open in 1986 and 1993 and also famously again challenged for the title as a 53 year old at Royal Birkdale in 2008 when he lead at the halfway mark.
As The Mail opined, a grand farewell at St Andrews, the last Open for which the Aussie legend will be eligible, appeared ideal and the hope now is that some wise decisions on the part of organisers will heal the rift.