Even though some British publications dubbed him ``The Great Gray Shark'' last week, Norman still wants to win on the grand stage of the PGA Tour. None of this over-50 tour stuff for him.
``If I play more golf and feel competitive, it's going to be on the regular tour,'' Norman said Wednesday after a practice round for Thursday's opening round of the U.S. Senior Open at NCR Country Club. ``I don't see myself adjusting my schedule for senior tournament golf.''
Norman hasn't won a PGA Tour event since 1998. He had surgery March 22 to relieve the back pain which had limited his quality of life -- and certainly the quality of his golf -- over the past few years.
In his first tournament back after rehabbing, he played well at the British Open two weeks ago before shooting a 76 in the final round that left him tied for 60th. Last week in his seniors debut at the Senior British Open, he shot a 76 and then was the hottest golfer in the field with rounds of 67, 70 and 68 to miss a playoff by a shot.
Despite that third-place finish, Norman still wants to be measured against Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, not Dana Quigley and Doug Tewell.
He is not planning on playing in a seniors event -- other than the major championships -- this year or next.
``If my competitive level in my game is solid like its starting to show signs of, I'd much rather go out there and play the regular tour because I still hit the ball long enough,'' said Norman, who has won 20 PGA Tour events, including two British Opens. ``I feel like I'm above average than most players, even on the regular tour, so why not get out there and compete against those guys?''
Hale Irwin, a success on both tours, said players turning 50 should embrace their age and play against their peers.
``The adjustments have to be made in your head,'' Irwin said. ``You have to make it in your mind that you are now going to play here (Champions Tour) and that's it.''
Irwin, who has won two Senior Opens to go with two U.S. Opens, is among the favorites this week. Defending champion Peter Jacobsen, Tom Watson (coming off a playoff win over Des Smyth at last week's British Senior Open), Ray Floyd (who won the 1969 PGA Championship at NCR), Tom Kite, Jay Haas and Craig Stadler are also in the field.
In addition to Norman, Curtis Strange and Loren Roberts also are making their first appearance in a U.S. Senior Open.
Norman has played well in USGA events, although he's never won one. He lost in a playoff to Fuzzy Zoeller at the 1984 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and finished second to Corey Pavin at Shinnecock in 1995.
With a USGA championship missing from his resume, he'd be more than happy to win the first one he plays in his sixth decade.
``I've always wanted to win one,'' he said, referring to the Open. ``I came close enough that you could almost taste it. It didn't happen, so obviously the next best thing would be to win this week. I'd love to put it on my mantel.
``I think that would be a very fitting start to my 'old man's' career.''
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