Norman keen to design Olympic course

By Randall MellDecember 8, 2011, 11:32 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – An old Swahili warrior song celebrates the bravery of both the victor and the defeated.

Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hands of God. So let us celebrate the struggle.

Greg Norman could have authored that in a past life.

He will be remembered as a man who won his share of titanic golf battles, but he will also be remembered for some of the most agonizing defeats the game has ever witnessed.

At 56, Norman isn’t finished with his magnificent struggle.

In the wake of another loss as the Presidents Cup Internationals captain, Norman is barely pausing to lick his wounds. There’s another epic struggle ahead, and it just might be the most intense competition going in golf today.

Norman is burning to win something big again. We’re not talking about this week’s Franklin Templeton Shootout, where Norman is host and a participant. We’re talking about his teaming with Lorena Ochoa to win the bid to design the course that will be home to golf’s return to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Norman and Ochoa were named last week among the eight finalists for the architectural job.

“The process has been an arduous one, to say the least,” Norman said after his pro-am round Thursday.

Winning the right to build the course would rank among the treasured triumphs in Norman’s career.

“It would be high up there, I’m not going to lie about that,” Norman said.

With so much invested in the Olympic project, there is the risk of another stinging defeat. The competition has to be the most formidable that has ever lined up to win a golf course architectural job.

The team of Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam is in the mix. So is the team of Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett. So are Gary Player, Tom Doak, Gil Hanse, Martin Hawtree and Robert Trent Jones II.

Whether he wins another big prize, or endures another big blow, Norman will relish the struggle. He said defeat has been a great teacher.

“Hey, you move on with life,” Norman said of his toughest defeats. “You’ve got to be philosophical enough about [losing], whether it’s on or off the golf course. That’s life. At the end of the day, I think failure is good for you. You learn more from failure than you do success. I think that is part of my success in life.”

A lot of Norman’s life lessons will be packed into his bid to win the Olympic project. Norman is one of the most successful businessmen on the planet. He knows his way around board rooms almost as well as he knows his way around a golf course. He’ll need that savvy with the pressure ratcheting up in the selection process.

Come Monday, Norman said, the eight finalists will receive an informational packet outlining the specs for the job. They’ll each get to visit the proposed site near Rio de Janeiro once before preparing their pitches, which will include routing and schematic plans for the golf course. The finalists will submit their plans before giving a 45-minute presentation, probably at the end of January, beginning of February, Norman said.

“So you’ve got seven weeks to do this,” Norman said. “The timeframe we’ve worked on this, compared to most other projects, this is like a nanosecond.”

Norman has some special motivation. He said he is inspired to do the project right for Seve Ballesteros, who died of brain cancer this year. Norman said Ballesteros shared his Olympic dream with him back when they were taking turns as No. 1 and No. 2 in the world.

“He was so passionate about getting golf into the Olympics,” Norman said. “We got to make sure it stays in. I’d do that for Seve.”

Norman said the winning architect or architectural team will carry a heavy responsibility.

“The overriding message is: How do we keep golf in the Olympics?” Norman said. “The statement you make in 2016 is obviously the statement that is going to carry golf forward . . . Whoever is the final pick, it’s crucial.

“We have this one opportunity now for the game of golf in the Olympics. If we don’t maximize that opportunity, then shame on all of us, in a lot of ways. Does that fall on the shoulders of whoever the designer is? Maybe, to a degree.”

It’s all part of what makes this yet another of Norman’s magnificent struggles.

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x