What they said: Greg NormanJuly 30, 2009
PGA TOUR staff
U.S. SENIOR OPEN: Transcript archive
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome Greg Norman to the media center. He shot a 66 today. General comments?
GREG NORMAN: Played well today. The golf course was there to be had, it was perfect conditions, the greens were receptive enough to be aggressive with the shots if you want to play in 'em, and the speed was nice so it was a good day for scoring golf.
Q. Greg, looking at some of the names on the leaderboard, some very well known names, is this a golf course that will separate the cream from the crop, so to speak??
GREG NORMAN: Well, it's a Pete Dye golf course, and he tests your shot-thinking ability, and there are things you can do out there to put yourself in a bad position, and Pete will always have something there to catch you, if he can do that.
Every time I've gone to a Pete Dye golf course I like the way he tactically builds the golf course. When you get up to a tee, you can't just pull out a driver, even though John Daly did that in '91. You've got to think about the shot, before you hit it, and a lot of the greens, especially the back nine, they've got a lot of undulations, so if you short-side yourself, it's difficult to get up and out like I did on 18 today.
Q. If you can go through on what happened on 18. It looked like after your tee shot you choked up on something, you changed clubs, you didn't seem like you were necessarily committed to whatever shot you were trying --
GREG NORMAN: Well, there is such a severe upslope, and the grain was going straight into me, so I knew my club head was going to decelerate very quick, and when you're on a keen angle on an upslope, it's difficult to keep that accelerating through because your body wants to fall back, so you're not getting a full rotation in.
So I changed to hit the ball higher to capture the wind to get more carry out of it. I hit the ball exactly like I wanted to hit it, it just came up about 4 yards too short, that's all.
Q. I noticed when you said before we started, did you say the tee box was 42 yards --
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, the tee box was up 42 yards and there is a note on our lockers saying that would do that on some of the holes, and 18 it caught me by surprise, and when I got to the tee I didn't have a line off that tee.
And when I was looking in my yardage book and trying to do the calculations, what's the carry over the water, I didn't have the time, basically, so I just didn't feel really 100% comfortable on where I had to hit the tee shot, and when I did hit it I thought it was going to be okay. I didn't think it was going to be in the situation that it was.
Q. Do you prefer four rounds rather than three??
GREG NORMAN: Oh, yeah, I played only one regular PGA Tour event, and that was in Cap Connor this year, and it felt awkward. On a Thursday you feel like you have to concentrate hard, and Friday -- it felt like the tournament was over before it started.
Q. How much of a challenge is it for you to play three Majors in a row? It's tough when you're in your 20s, but when you're in your 50s, it's even tougher, I would think.
GREG NORMAN: Well, it is. If it wasn't for the stature of the events I wouldn't be traveling back and forth across the pond. You do it because it is the USGA U.S. Senior Open, you do it because I like the golf courses, and at the end of the day you know what jet lag is like, doesn't matter whether you're in your 50s or in your 20s.
Everybody is affected by it, you plow your way through it. Sometimes experiencing how your body is going to feel is advantageous, but I'm not physically tired, that doesn't bother me. I would like to see them put a week gap in between the two of 'em, but I understand they've got the USGA has the ladies to look after and the amateurs, and all that, so it's probably tough on scheduling to do that, but from the selfish standpoint, we would like to see it spread out one week.
Q. Greg, conditions can change in the next three days but talk about the front nine and the back nine, what holes are opportunities for you to score low on each of the nines.
GREG NORMAN: Well, they're all opportunities if you're driving the ball well, I can put it to you that way. The greens are absolutely perfect this morning. I'm sure they're going to be firmer tomorrow, the greens, the surfaces are not going to be as perfect as what we had this morning, so there will be some adjustment, but we've all done that before, played early and then played late in the afternoon and normally when you play early, you play late in the afternoon three out of the four days.
If you drive the ball well, and if you're feeling aggressive, you can get at some of these flags. They tucked a few tight today, and if they wanted to be mean out here they could be mean. This is a Pete Dye golf course, he builds very quirky greens, to say the least, so when they start tucking the pins they can make this golf course defensive if they wanted to.
Q. Greg, would you compare the way you drive the ball now to the 1980s? Distance, accuracy, trajectory?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I can relate that '91 PGA here, I'm hitting the ball further on this golf course today than what I was in '91. I'm carrying the 14th hole without a problem, the big chop dogleg to the left, driving further down on the par 5s than I did in '91. So is that my youth? No, but that's got a lot to do with technology, obviously, the golf course is in pristine shape, the greens are cut at the same height, the ball releases a little bit.
Everybody flights the ball differently, most of us, every shot we hit it's a different flight anyway, but from pure technology we picked up some yardage. So the golf course, in my opinion, is probably playing the same clubs I hit in '91 I'm hitting now into the greens, and there is, what, 20 years separation almost in the time clock.
I know I'm not -- my club head speed isn't as fast as what it was in '91 so technology has made up the gap.
Q. What ball are you using??
GREG NORMAN: I'm using a Taylor Made Red ball.
Q. You talked about a Pete Dye course and the angles and subtle slopes and movements. With that in mind, do you think it's been an oversimplification over the years that this concept that John Daly just came here and completely overpowered the golf course, and that's how he won, has that been unfair to the quality of Crooked Stick??
GREG NORMAN: The quality of Crooked Stick is there, no question about it. John Daly did come here and bomb it over everything. He did, he just drove it out there. I remember watching him hit shots on television going, "Wow, you don't think about driving it the way he is driving it," but he had the utmost confidence in his driver.
Like I said before, if you drive the ball well and long around here, you can get at this golf course.
What did John win by, 3 or 4 shots back then?
GREG NORMAN: 12-under? So probably the same thing is going to happen here this week.
Q. Tom Watson said every since he turned 50 the U.S. Senior Open and the PGA were the most desired events for him to win. Can you address where this ranks for you??
GREG NORMAN: They're all desirable for me, I don't have a ranking system. I think they're all vitally important, and I think when you've been a top player in your game over the decades, no matter whether you're teeing up in a regular event or in a Major, you want to perform well and give yourself a chance to win.
You know, I've been there in the past with the U.S. Opens, I've been there with British Opens, so I would like to have this tournament on my mantelpiece, no question. Like I said, they're all equal.
Q. Greg, can you address the crowds even during the practice rounds? And also as infrequently as you play, the galleries that you draw, why do you think you get so many people out wanting to see you play?
GREG NORMAN: I think they like my wine. Over the years it's been -- I think they enjoy the way I play the game of golf. I'm fairly aggressive, I like to play the game. I like to challenge myself and sometimes they see shots that they couldn't dream of hitting in their time, but the galleries here have been phenomenal.
I've been taken back by the numbers and the support and the enthusiasm that they have given us, and that tells you that this part of America has been starved for golf and they're going to support us for the next three days.
I just hope the weather holds up for us. You would hate to see any adverse conditions come in here and take away from anything that's so positive about this event. Everything is so great about it right now.
THE MODERATOR: Greg, thank you for your time.