Over the course of his World Golf Hall of Fame career, Greg Norman has made adjustments in his swing, even during major championships. But he's never undertaken a complete overhaul of his swing ala Nick Faldo or Tiger Woods.
Changes that significant take time to integrate, Norman said on the eve of the Franklin Templeton Shootout he hosts this weekend. Woods, for example, finally ended a 30-month victory drought with three wins earlier this year, bringing his total to 74, which ranks second all-time on the PGA TOUR.
"That's their choice and decision to do it," Norman said.
“If you're changing coaches, obviously the coach is going to
inject his belief on how the golf club should be swung during the
motion and the player is gonna listen. Obviously he wouldn't change
coaches if he wasn't going to listen to that coach.
"So you expect it, and you have to work together. It takes time, two to three months to really make a change, just one change. So if you're making three or four changes, it may take a year. It's a big effort. You can pretty much write off a year if you're going to make a significant change and build into the future."
Woods has restructured his swing with three different coaches, most recently Sean Foley. Norman, though, thinks Woods's swing, circa 2000, when he was embarking on what came to be called the Tiger Slam was the "purest I've ever seen him swing a golf club technically."
Norman said he isn't sure exactly why Woods decided to make the various changes. "Maybe injury is a significant reason," the former world No. 1 suggested, adding that he and Butch Harmon engineered changes in Norman's swing from time to time to alleviate stress on his back and spine.
"Like I say, I like the way he swung the golf club in 2000 at
any stage of his career," Norman said. "He was technically correct.
To me, he was a better middle iron player and controlled his
distance better then than he was or is today.
"Right now, from what I read -- and that's all I can say, is what I read -- is he's just trying to take one side of the golf course out of play, which is hitting the ball left. I think he's worked pretty hard on doing that."
Greg Norman created quite a stir earlier this week when he told FoxSports.com that he felt Tiger Woods was "really intimidated" by Rory McIlroy, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman with four wins this season.
The two players, who have a friendly rivalry, played down those comments on Wednesday on the eve of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, where they are playing together in today's first round. The subject also came up during an interview Jack Nicklaus did on ESPN 980 in Washington, D.C.
“Quiet Greg, quiet," Nicklaus said. "Down boy. I think Tiger had a pretty darn good year this year. It’s the first time he has gotten himself back into contention in the majors, he didn’t finish them and I think by his own admission he said he had a hard time finishing them. That’s like anything else. He had a pretty big event in his life that changed a lot of things and he has to learn how to go back and play again. I think he’s learned how to play again, now he has to learn how to finish again. I think Tiger has a lot of wins left in him."
At the same time, though, Nicklaus went on to say that Woods has more competition than he once did. The Golden Bear noted that players like McIlroy and Keegan Bradley -- "and I could probably name a half dozen other guys," he said -- learned to win while Woods was injured and later revamping his swing.
"They’re not scared of him anymore," Nicklaus said. "Before Tiger just showed up coming down the stretch and everybody said ‘oh there’s Tiger and I wilt.’ They don’t do that anymore. Tiger’s got his work cut out for him but I don’t think Tiger is by any means finished. I just think Tiger is too good of an athlete and too good of a player.”
Tiger Woods meets with the media and discusses his chances ahead of the FedExCup finale.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Greg Norman created a bit of a buzz earlier this week when he told Robert Lusetich of Foxsports.com that he feels Tiger Woods is "really intimidated" by Rory McIlroy.
“When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never," Norman said. "But I think he knows his time’s up and that’s normal; these things tend to go in 15-year cycles. Jack (Nicklaus) took it from Arnold (Palmer). I took it from Jack, Tiger from me and now it looks like Rory’s taking it from Tiger.”
Not so fast, the two said Wednesday morning on the eve of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. McIlroy and Woods enter the final event in the FedExCup Playoffs ranked Nos. 1-2 respectively, both in the standings that will decide the winner of the $10 million bonus on Sunday and the world rankings.
When asked about Norman's comments on Wednesday, both players, who have effected a friendly rivalry and play together on Thursday at East Lake, essentially laughed them off.
"He's got a new nickname for me, actually," McIlroy said. "He calls me the Intimidator. He's obviously seen (the comments), too."
Woods smiled when the subject of the rivalry with the McIlroy came up about 15 minutes later.
"It's got to be the hair," the closely-shorn Woods said – not once, but twice. When pressed, though, the man who has spent more time at world No. 1 than anyone else said intimidation doesn't play a factor in an individual pursuit like golf.
"No one is the size of Ray Lewis who is going to hit me coming over the middle, so this is a different kind of sport," Woods said. "We go out there and we play our own game. And see where it falls at the end of the day.
"It's not like you go over the middle and some guy is 255 pounds
and going to take your block off. This is about execution and going
about your own business and see where tends up at the end of the
day. It's just the nature of our sport, which is different than
"Some individual sports, such as tennis, you actually can do that physically, because you're playing against somebody. Here no one is affecting any shots.
McIlroy, who has won three times in his last four starts, including the PGA Championship and two Playoffs events, also turned more serious.
"How can I intimidate Tiger Woods?" McIlroy said, talking about the man who has always been his idol. "I mean, the guy's got 75 or 70 whatever PGA TOUR wins, 14 majors. He's been the biggest thing ever in our sport. How could some little 23 year old from Northern Ireland with a few wins come up and intimidate him. It's just not possible.
"I don't know where (Norman) got that from, but it's not true."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Greg Norman says he hasn't been asked to return for a third term as captain of the International Team for The Presidents Cup. Yet.
But unlike Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who said "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected," when queried about the 1884 presidential election, Norman definitely left the possibility open on Wednesday during a press conference prior to The Honda Classic pro-am. (Hey, it's an election year so let us have a little fun.)
If the call comes, Norman said he would probably lean "more to the positive than the negative side."
The 2013 Presidents Cup will be played at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, where the World Golf Hall of Famer from Australia won the Memorial Tournament in 1990 and '95. Interestingly, the man who captained the U.S. side in the last two Presidents Cups, Fred Couples, is also a former champion at Muirfield Village, capturing the tournament in 1998.
Norman said the subject came up during a conversation with one of his vice captains, Frank Nobilo, at dinner Tuesday night. Norman asked Nobilo whether he would assist him for the third time -- should the opportunity arise -- and the Kiwi turned the tables on the Aussie.
"I said, 'Well, I haven't really thought about it to tell you
the truth,'" Norman said. "Probably the most powerful moment for me
as a player ... who didn't play an event, was what the response was
from the players on the Sunday night of The Presidents Cup in
Australia, what Ernie Els said; what everybody else echoed, that
they would like to have me back.
"To me, that meant a lot to me. But you walk away from there saying, well, there's other people in line. But time is on their side, because there's always going to be another Presidents Cup and stuff like that.
“So to really answer your question, if I was asked to do it again, I would sit back and I would think about it, because it's a two-year commitment. The inevitable answer to that question would probably be leaning more to the positive than the negative side."
Norman said he's done "zero" lobbying for the job. "I enjoyed doing it," he said. "Muirfield, I love the golf course, I've won around there, makes sense. I know I've put some thought processes to the betterment of The Presidents Cup for the International Team. So if I get asked again, it would be an honor. But if I don't get asked again, I won't get jolted for it, that's for sure."
During an interview at the Northern Trust Open, Couples said he had talked with PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and other officials about returning. He called serving as captain "more fun than playing" and said he "would love to do it again, sure."
UPDATE: President Bill Clinton and Greg Norman were in the 10th fairway on the Palmer Course at PGA West when play was suspended due to high winds on Saturday. In an attempt to complete all 72 holes by Sunday evening, tournament officials decided only the pros will return to complete the third round at 7:30 a.m. PT (10:30 a.m. ET) Sunday. So Clinton and Norman will not be able to finish their round.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- As President Bill Clinton waited to tee off in the third round of the Humana Challenge, one of the fans in the stands took the opportunity to loudly compliment his shoes.
The white adidas with the red and blue stripes across the middle and that tiny American flag on the side were a birthday present several years ago, Clinton told her.
"They're the best part of my game," he said amiably and the crowd, which was hanging on the 42nd President's every move, laughed heartily.
"You haven't seen me play yet," Clinton said good-naturedly, egging on the fans, who stood four deep on the first tee of the Palmer Course at PGA West.
All those Democrats and Republicans in attendance didn't have to wait too much longer. About five minutes later the man who was introduced as "formerly of Washington, D.C., Mr. William Jefferson Clinton" stepped confidently to the tee and sent his drive airborne into the left rough.
Clinton appeared as comfortable inside the ropes Saturday as he's been outside them all week long. He patiently signed autographs, making a personal connection with nearly every person who thrust a program, book or golf ball in his hand.
When one fan told Clinton he'd served at Fort Stewart, as well as in Kosovo, the President said earnestly, "Thank you for going there." He waved to the wait staff at the Championship Lounge as they stood at the back door applauding as he walked to the practice tee.
Clinton was playing Saturday to an 18 handicap, which is the maximum allowed for the tournament. He hit a variety of shots on the range, often to the left and occasionally dribbled off the tee, which only added to his humanity. When defending champion Jhonattan Vegas came up to shake Clinton's hand, the President offered up a golfer's common lament: "the older I get the harder it is for me to turn."
At one point on the practice green, Clinton rolled in a long putt that drew a shriek from the crowd and some polite applause. The 42nd President turned to his partner for the day, Greg Norman, and said, "I just made a putt for us." Meanwhile, PGA TOUR media official Mark Stevens noted that Mark Wilson, who was tied for the overnight lead, was 4 under through four holes but there wasn't a mass exodus to La Quinta -- yet.
Later, as Clinton liberally applied a shield of sunscreen on an increasing bright morning, he looked over at the crowd. "Greg Norman didn't realize how geriatric I'd become since the last time I played golf with him," Clinton said with a chuckle.
The two are good friends who talk several times a year but they had only played golf together once prior to Saturday. That came in Australia in 1994 while Clinton was still in office -- a date Norman almost didn't keep because he didn't agree with the Democrat’s politics. President George H.W. Bush urged Norman to respect the office, though, and the friendship was born.
As the foursome -- which also included Humana CEO Mike McCallister and PGA TOUR veteran Scott McCarron -- assembled for the obligatory first-tee photos, Clinton, who had been over shaking hands with several fans in wheelchairs on a platform reserved for handicapped patrons, realized he didn't have a club. So Norman, who had been briefly serenaded with "Waltzing Matilda," handed the former Chief Executive his driver.
"I can't hit his club," Clinton said, laughing.
Norman hit his drive into the first cut on the left side of the fairway. McCarron, who has a home in La Quinta and protested when he was introduced as being from Reno, Nev., -- "That is just for tax purposes," he joked -- outdrove Norman and found the left fairway bunker. "Great shot, Scottie," Norman yelled the instant the ball was struck, striding quickly to the next tee for the main event.
Norman and McCarron ended up making a pars. Clinton hit his second shot just short of the green, then chipped on and three-putted from 25 feet for a double bogey that McCallister matched.
And with that the high-powered foursome was off. The many fans who followed narrowly missed meeting another legend, too – Arnold Palmer was patiently posing for pictures with fans and signing autographs as he headed out to see his grandson, Sam Saunders, make the turn.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Greg Norman didn't plan on accepting the invitation.
The year was 1994 and the two-time major champion had just received a call from the White House. Seems President Bill Clinton was headed to Australia and he wanted to play golf with Norman.
The timing was perfect. Norman was slated to play in the Australian Open in Sydney and Clinton was to be there the same week. But the legendary Aussie, who says he's a "bit more pro-Republican than I am Democrat," just wasn't that keen on teeing it up.
"I didn't really like the way the first two years of his presidency was going," Norman recalled. "I just didn't feel comfortable with it from my own personal beliefs. So I actually came to a judgment decision saying I don't want to play because of his political position."
Still, it was the President of the United States. So Norman called Clinton's predecessor, George H.W. Bush, and told that President about the mixed emotions he was feeling.
"And he said, Greg, he says, I'm going give you a piece of advice," Norman recalled. "He said, respect the office of the Presidency of the United States. You go play with the President. No matter how you feel. So I said, yes, sir, you know, being the loyal subject, being a non-voting guy."
Norman called the White House back and said, for all practical purposes, let's do it. So after he played in the first round of the Australian Open, Norman met Clinton at New South Wales Golf Club -- which they had all to themselves that afternoon.
"And it all worked out beautifully," Norman said. "From that moment onwards, because I prejudged, I became very good friends with the person that I prejudged in the wrong way."
So when the former Chief Executive called and asked Norman to play with him in the Humana Challenge, there was no hesitation. Norman was happy to make his second appearance in the tournament once known as the Bob Hope Classic and help the tournament “resurrect” itself.
"At the end of the day, the Bob Hope -- and I'm going to use
Humana here in a minute -- but the Bob Hope was such an iconic
event, it was iconic from the celebrities, from the sponsorship
stand point, from the people in Palm Springs and this area," said
Norman, whose lone appearance in the California desert came in
1986. "We, as far as I'm concerned, I hate to see events like that
"So it was a combination of PGA TOUR wisdom and approaching the Clinton Foundation and President Clinton, it's a combination of going to Humana and structuring it the right way, because the Clinton Foundation in its own way, it's all about wellness, and then bringing somebody with the magnitude and the power and the pull of President Clinton to do that.
"It's very difficult to replace Bob Hope, you know. So to replace Bob Hope with President Clinton is, was an automatic."
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Tuesday was all business for President Bill Clinton as he hosted the very successful "Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation" conference held in conjunction with the Humana Challenge.
Now the 42nd President gets to enjoy himself a little as he plays not one, but two rounds of golf in the Coachello Valley this week.
The first comes today in a pro-am to benefit the William J. Clinton Foundation, which has partnered with Humana to present this week's popular PGA TOUR event. The event, which will be played at The Tradition, is not open to the public.
That said, there will be at least one high-profile spectator -- the legendary Arnold Palmer, who designed the course and has a home at The Tradition.
"I'll be there to receive him," Palmer told the Desert Sun, adding he was flying in early Wednesday morning. The King won't play in the pro-am but he is expected to have lunch with the former Chief Executive.
On Saturday, Clinton will play in the Humana Challenge for the second time -- this time partnering with his good friend Greg Norman in a foursome that also includes Humana CEO Mike McCallister and three-time PGA TOUR champ Scott McCarron.
The high-powered foursome tees off at 10:20 a.m. on No. 1 at the Palmer Private Course at PGA West.
In 1995 Clinton became the only sitting President to play in a PGA TOUR event at what was then called the Bob Hope Classic. He played with the comedian; two former Presidents, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush; and PGA TOUR veteran Scott Hoch.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
The start of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation is still two weeks away but it already looks like the tournament will have its best field in years.
Two-time champ Phil Mickelson, who will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May, announced Friday that he will be returning to the California desert for the first time since 2007. He's joining Greg Norman, another Hall of Famer, who also committed this week.
The Humana Challenge will be held Jan. 19-22. The tournament has been reduced from 90 to 72 holes and the $5.6 million event will be played at La Quinta Country Club and the Palmer and Nicklaus Private Courses at PGA West.
Mickelson won the tournament, previously known as the Bob Hope Classic, in 2002 and 2004, both times in a playoff. He's the only player to have won more than $2 million at the event and that came in just seven starts as a professional.
“I’m honored to join President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for the Humana Challenge,” Mickelson said. “I admire President Clinton and the charitable work of his Foundation, which helps millions of people around the world, and I applaud him for joining Humana in using the tournament to help promote health and wellness. Some of my best seasons have come after starting at this event and I’m really excited about coming back again.”
Norman, who turns 57 next month, also cited Clinton's involvement as a factor in his decision to return to the tournament for the first time since 1986. The two-time British Open champion most recently served his second term as captain of the International Team for the Presidents Cup.
"After a conversation with President Clinton, and also with my good friend Scott McCarron's encouragement, I'm all too happy to support President Clinton's commitment to the Humana Challenge and his Foundation," Norman said. "I'm confident with the recent changes to the tournament's sponsorship and format, and with the support President Clinton will give, this event, which has been one of the most iconic tournaments for decades, will once again establish itself as one of `the' tournaments to play in."
Other early commitments include defending champion Jhonattan Vegas; 2011 FedExCup champion Bill Haas, who won the Humana Challenge in 2010, and other past Humana champs Pat Perez, Charley Hoffman, Chad Campbell, Justin Leonard, Steve Jones and Mark Brooks.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Greg Norman knows what has to be done on Sunday.
"It's always great to create history, isn't it?" the smiling International Team captain told NBC's Jimmy Roberts as the second Singles match got under way on the final day of the Presidents Cup.
Norman's team trails the U.S. 13-9 and needs to win nine matches in order to capture the Cup. The Internationals have only prevailed in the Singles session once in the previous nine Presidents Cups, winning it 7-5 in 2007 at Royal Montreal
The only International victory at the Presidents Cup came at Royal Melbourne in 1998 when they took a lopsided 20 1/2-11 1/2 victory.
"The message I gave the guys last night before they went to bed was to think about the greatest come-from-behind victories in sports," Norman said. "I told them to think about that because it can be done."
The wind at Royal Melbourne has changed and will blow in from the west/southwest at 15-25 mph. Norman said Nos. 6-11 and perhaps the final two or three holes will be most affected by the stiff breezes.
"This is not the easiest of winds," Norman said. "... But this is mano y mano, and you've got to go out and get it."
Norman's American counterpart, Fred Couples, knows his team is in the driver's seat but he wanted to be sure the U.S. players didn't let up.
"It's an individual day but it's a team day, too, and our guys are going to rock," Couples to Roberts. "We know they are going to come out firing, too.
"I told our guys that everybody needs a point. If they don't get one they're just going to make it tougher on the guys behind them."
Couples then walked over to Norman, who was surrounded by a group of Australian fans clad in yellow shirts and green Hogan caps. The fans started singing and Norman and Couples played along, even donning the green caps, then hugged and high-fived each other before casting an eye on the action again.
Norman kept the Hogan cap he borrowed, turned it backwards and watched the rest of the action on the first tee.
MELBOURNE, Australia – The International Team will have the partisan crowd on its side on a sunny and cool Sunday at Royal Melbourne.
Trailing by four points, though, Greg Norman’s squad faces an uphill battle in Sunday’s Singles matches. The Internationals have only won the session once in the nine previous Presidents Cups – winning seven of the 12 head-to-head battles at Royal Montreal in 2007.
A team needs 17 1/2 points to win the Presidents Cup, so the Internationals, trailing 13-9, would need an historic rally. But it wouldn’t be unprecedented in global team competition – the U.S. scored 8 1/2 points on a thrilling Sunday at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., to rally and win the 1999 Ryder Cup.
Wonder if Greg Norman had the same kind of “feeling” Ben Crenshaw did 12 years ago?
|Year||Score entering Singles||Final score|
|1994||U.S. led 12-9||U.S. wins 20-12|
|1996||U.S. led 10 1/2-9 1/2||U.S. won 16 1/2-15 1/2|
|2000||U.S. led 14-6||U.S. won 21 1/2-10 1/2|
|2003||Internationals led 12 1/2-9 1/2||Internationals, U.S. tie 17-all|
|2005||Internationals, U.S. tied 11-11||United States wins 18 1/2-15 1/2|
|2007||U.S. leads 14 1/2-7 1/2||U.S. wins 19 1/2-14 1/2|
|2009||U.S. leads 12 1/2-9 1/2||U.S. wins 19 1/2-14 1/2|
|2011||U.S. leads 13-9||TBD|