Shark Sighting at the Beach

By Mercer BaggsMarch 26, 2003, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- When you think about Greg Norman, what comes to mind first? Is it his success? Is it his failure? Or is it his 228-foot yacht?
 
Greg Norman has always been about more than golf. Hes a family man. Hes businessman. Hes a mans man.
 
As Father Time creeps closer in the rearview mirror, Normans off-course interests have exceeded his on-course appearances. His Great White Shark Enterprises includes a golf design company that has created 35 courses in 10 different countries; a turf-grass company that has surfaced two Super Bowls and Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australia; an apparel company; a real estate venture, and a winery.
 
And lest we forget he also offers a luxury series aboard the largest private aluminum motor yacht in the world (built at an estimated $70 million).
 
He was even ranked No. 68 on the Forbes Power List in 2001.
 
But in between counting and spending his millions, Norman finds time to play the game that made him.
 
Everything changes as life goes on. My life has changed dramatically in the last five to 10 years with the way business has gone and what Ive found that I enjoy doing off the golf course, said the 48-year-old.
 
Norman is in the field for this weeks Players Championship. Hes played in one event in his native Australia, but this will be his first event of the year on the PGA Tour.
 
He said he spent Spring Break, for the first time, with his family. Its just one of those things where family priority comes first and golf comes second, he said.
 
And though rusty, he expects it will wear off quickly.
 
Ive always been a believer coming off a break sometimes is better for you because youre mentally ready and you want to go play. If you can get everything in sync to where you can get your competitive juices flowing youll be fine, he said.
 
Norman won on the Stadium Course in 1994, the closest thing hes come to capturing a major championship in the U.S.
 
Of course, he has a pair of Claret Jugs to his credit. The PGA Tour recently recognized the British Open as an official tour victory, upping Normans total to 20.
 
Translation: he is now a lifetime tour member. He had given up his membership in 2001 when he played in only 11 events, one less that the minimum.
 
But Normans exemption doesnt mean he can play in every event in which he wants. He cant even compete in the one tournament he most wants to win.
 
Norman did not qualify for this years Masters Tournament, and did not receive a special invitation either. He will be skipping the seasons first major ' where he has six-career top-3 finishes without a victory ' for the first time since 1980.
 
I wont be watching any golf; Ive actually scheduled a few other things outside the country, Norman said of his plans Masters week. Ive got some business to do, and Id rather do that than sit at home and pine away and whine away about not being there.
 
Not that he wouldnt rather be in Augusta, Ga., in two weeks time.
 
Id be telling a lie if I said I wasnt disappointed, he said. To me, its my favorite golf tournament Ive ever played in. Ive had some great moments; Ive had some pretty bad moments, too. But overall Ive enjoyed it and I think its the best golf championship in the world.
 
And his thoughts on what will be transpiring in the tournaments periphery?
 
There will be a little bit of a different atmosphere there with all the hoopla going on the outside perimeter,' he said. 'But once you get inside the gate and on the first tee, the guys who go there to play golf, theyll do what they need to do to win.
 
Norman hasnt won on tour since the 1997 NEC World Series of Golf. He played in only three events the following year due to shoulder surgery, and hasnt played in more than 13 tournaments in a single campaign in the four seasons since.
 
Hes nearly six years removed from when his 97-week reign at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking ended. Hes now No. 144.
 
Still, Norman believes he can win. If he didnt, it's not like he doesn't have several other things to occupy his time.
 
Youre priorities do change, but your goals are still there. If you come out here to play, your goal is to perform the best you can with the attitude to win, he said. If you dont have that goal in mind then dont come out here to play, dont take up a spot on the golf course.
 
I still enjoy playing, I still enjoy competing. I still want to win.
 
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