Norman looks to rebound at Senior British

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2008, 4:00 pm
Senior Open ChampionshipTROON, Scotland'Greg Norman used last weeks British Open as a warmup and almost made history. The warmup over, he is now setting his sights on the Senior British Open.
 
Leading the tournament at Royal Birkdale with nine holes to play, the 53-year-old Australian was on course to become the oldest winner of a major, but finished six shots behind Padraig Harrington in a tie for third.
 
Now, my expectations are good, Norman said Wednesday. I like the golf course. Remember my comment last week: I was using the British Open for a warmup to the British Senior Open'should have been the other way round.
 
Greg Norman
Greg Norman practices Wednesday on the eve of the Senior Open Championship. (Getty Images)
So now Ive warmed up, basically. OK, so now Ive got to step up and, hopefully, I can do that over the next four or five days.
 
For the first two rounds Thursday and Friday at Troon, Norman will play in the same group as Tom Watson, winner of five Opens and three of the past five Senior British Opens, and Sandy Lyle as he bids for his first seniors title.
 
Lyle also has an Open title, as well as the 1988 Masters, but he was lambasted by the media at Royal Birkdale last week when he walked off the course after completing half of the opening round at 11 over.
 
Because of his various business interests, plus playing tennis for fun with new wife Chris Evert, Norman picks and chooses his seniors events and this is just his fourth. He finished third at this tournament three years ago at Royal Aberdeen, and tied for sixth at this years Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill, Rochester.
 
Norman said he shouldnt have any problems coming back from Sundays letdown, where he led into the final round by two strokes yet knew the title was gone when he walked up to the 17th green at Birkdale.
 
As Norman and Harrington walked up the 18th to receive a standing ovation, he let the Irishman'about to win the title for the second year in a row'have the spotlight.
 
I had to respect Padraig and the situation, Norman said. You had to let him absorb the moment.
 
But the Australian who has had tough defeats in majors before'most notably in the 1996 Masters to Nick Faldo'still felt the pain of losing.
 
Yeah, it hurts. Deep down inside, it hurts, no question, he said. When youre a sportsman in the arena, no matter how old or how young you are, and you give yourself an opportunity and it doesnt eventuate, you do feel it.
 
Im a human being too and I love to play the game.
 
Norman said he has different priorities now compared with when he was the worlds top player in the days before Tiger Woods. But he still wants to do well on the golf course without the routine of daily practice.
 
Its totally different nowadays with your expectations then when you are the No. 1 and people expect you to perform, he said. Nowadays, my practice routine and my happiness and where I want to be in my life, its totally different for me.
 
So I can waltz in there like (I did) at Birkdale and I can be realistically honest with myself. Deep down inside, do you want to perform well. Always, you want to perform well.
 
Lyle will be happy if he can just complete the first two rounds.
 
The Scot on Wednesday explained his early exit from the Open last week, saying a sore and numb left hand forced him to retire after just 10 holes.
 
Last week was not a thing I like to do on a regular basis. But youll know from talking to my previous caddies Ive had sore hands and knuckles for a couple of years now. I was playing with a sort of numb knuckle in my left hand and I couldnt let it continue.
 
Apart from Watson and Lyle, Norman has familiar rivals who have won tournaments this year.
 
Seniors newcomers Ian Woosnam and Bernhard Langer have each won two events. But Jay Haas, who won his second Senior PGA title in three years, has pulled out after the death of his sister-in-law.
 
Watson also has a Champions Tour victory this season and could complete his third Open double. He has won both the Open and Seniors Open at Turnberry and Muirfield, and another of his five Open triumphs was at Troon in 1982.
 
It doesnt look like theyre taking much pity on us old people as far as the length of the golf course is concerned, Watson said of the 7,064-yard, par-71 links course that will have most of the same tee placements as for the Open.
 
Its going to be a very long and difficult golf course at Troon here.
 
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”