Stormin Norman We Can Hope
Normans half-century of existence now means the Champions Tour has the chance to become the body of water where his career of success continues. Or should I say that its Norman himself who has the new home for opportunity?
The Shark amassed 20 PGA Tour titles and another 68 world-wide victories. Yet his career to date is defined as much by major disappointments as major successes. A change of scenery should be great, right? We can only hope.
Im all for the Champions Tour as a professional vehicle of competition for the stars so let me make that clear. But from time to time I find myself searching for a reason to get over the feeling of hey, Ive been there and done that with these guys.
Norman, Im guessing, is the perfect guy to pump new life into my Champions Tour enthusiasm.
With apologies to Curtis Strange, whose resume and passion for the game will make him the Champions Tours newest go-to-guy for question and answer sessions, Norman has that stand-alone presence. He has that celebrity persona. He has that superstar intrigue. And he exudes cool.
So whats he supposed to do with his newfound mulligan of a golf career? I have some strong hopes as a fan of his game. But Normans in a tougher spot than you might think.
Greg Norman is more than just Greg Norman ' the player. Hes Greg Norman the business man too. In fact, hes Greg Norman ' the brand. That makes playing a big schedule a bit of a challenge. But having noticed that Donald Trump- the business man - seems to be doing just fine over-exposing himself, I hope hell give it a go for a few years and play as often as he can.
Greg Norman winning on the Champions Tour is expected. He should find the winners circle, right? Well, thats not even that easy. No guarantees for dominance. Ask Fuzzy or Lanny. Ask Crenshaw or Pate. Norman hasnt exactly been playing a full schedule the last few years to stay sharp. And that will make winning quickly a slightly taller task.
That said, take your hat off to recent new members like Craig Stadler and Peter Jacobsen. They found ways to play great golf into their late 40s and keep it going, and going. Heck, they both won on the PGA Tour in the last few years. Norman, for all his talent, wasnt able to play enough to stay on top of his game a la Jay Haas whos as consistent at 50 as he was at 30.
So given that, is the Shark literally in a no-win situation? I highly doubt it. But figuratively speaking I dont think theres any doubt about it.
If he wins, hes expected to. If he doesnt ' hes set up for more conversation about being an underachiever. Its kind of sad, really.
Despite plans to hold off on his debut week on the Champions circuit, I wish hed take this birthday as a golden opportunity to remind people of just how dominant he was and how dominant he can be again. I wish hed make a commitment like Hale Irwin to show himself just how great he was at the height of his career.
Greg Norman making a run at Irwins Champions Tour win total and major record would be the best thing the Tour could ask for.
It might just give us match-ups with Watson, playoffs with Stadler, major battles with Strange, future showmanship with Funk and grind-it-out Sundays with Loren Roberts when he arrives later this year.
Gosh, it might even make Irwin himself stick around for a few more runs at the Charles Schwab Cup.
Ill understand if Norman chooses the part-time path. I just hope he wont.
As a University of Missouri alum, Im quite familiar with the term Stormin Norm. Norm Stewart led Tiger fans to more basketball victories than any coach in school history.
Now if Stormin Greg Norman would catch that Irwin-like bug and chase down the heavyweight belt for most victories in Champions Tour history, we might really see the tour take off. And if not Norman patience will be required to find somebody who will.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.