After playing ' and making the cut ' at St. Andrews last week, Norman goes the short distance up the coast this week to the Senior British Open Championship in Aberdeen, Scotland. It will mark his debut into the world of senior golf.
But last week he turned in four good rounds of 72-71-70-76 at the British Open after undergoing back surgery earlier in the year. Normans performance was made even more impressive because of the fact that he had played only once this year, missing the cut in the Heineken Classic in his native Australia in early February. He was scheduled to play in the Dubai Desert Classic in March, but instead opted to bite the bullet and get the surgery done in Pittsburgh.
Norman, whose rank in the world of golf is 763, hasnt really been a world force since he was seventh on the U.S. money list at the end of 1997. In 1998 he underwent the first of two shoulder surgeries and played in just three events. And then he hit the time that he refers to as a no-mans zone.
There is the five-year period in your golfing career between 46 and 50 when you are wallowing around in a no-mans zone, he said in Melbourne while preparing for the Heineken earlier this year.
You like to compete as a regular, but are you as sharp as the younger players? No, Norman said. I should not speak for other players, but I found it a bit of a void.
Its quite appropriate that he made his return from surgery in the British Isles. Norman has had great success here, winning the British Open twice.
I've always had, fortunately for me, great support from the British fans, Scottish fans, Irish fans, he said. I honed my skills here in Europe before I went to the United States. And with a Claret Jug under your belt, it helps, as well.
I love playing golf in front of especially British, German crowds. They seem very respectful of the circumstances. You can hit a shot that might be 60 feet from the hole, but they know that was a hell of a shot to get it 60 feet from the hole. And they respect you for that. They understand the game of golf and the conditions you're playing under, because a lot of them play this type of golf course. That's why I enjoy playing in front of them.
Norman seems to have found his niche now at 50, having combined his numerous business interests with his new-found zeal for tournament golf. For several years he concentrated more on his life away from the course, but slowly the pendulum has swung back towards the tournaments.
I have never felt more at peace with myself, where I am in the world and all that, Norman said. It is the balance I have in my life right now. If I feel this great at 50, I have plenty more great years ahead of me.
And he feels that being so well-grounded in his business dealings will pay dividends in the other life.
The drive to be successful on the golf course is the same drive to be successful in business, he says. I still approach life the same way, I still do a lot of due diligence, I still do a lot of preparation. I trust my people around me, like trusting the coach, trusting the caddy. Im not the smartest guy in the world, but I know where I want to go.
FIVE FOR THE TITLE
All a question of his back holding up. Watson got re-acquainted with links-style golf last week at the British Open at St. Andrews, and by Sunday he had finished in a tie for 41st. He won this tournament in 2003. If he stays healthy and pain-free, watch out for him this week.
Number 1 on the European Seniors list, Mason just barely missed this trophy two years when he double-bogeyed the 72nd hole and lost in a playoff to Watson.
Torrance, who began last season as a Champions Tour regular, finished the year on the European Tour and has played six times on that circuit already in 2005. Still, he stands in fifth place on the tours money list, despite have played four fewer times than Mason.
The Englishman stands 18th on the Champions Tour money list with $539,900. He won earlier in the year at the ACE Group Classic and has three other top 10s.
Irishman Smyth plays the Champions Tour now also, but his home is situated on a links course, much the same as Royal Aberdeen. Smyth also has won this year on the Champions ' twice. He is sixth on tour in earnings.