In my 30s and early 40s, he said, I used to think, No problem, Ill just blow right through them, no big deal.
Well, you know what? That (the reality of aging) is the reality of life. Thats why its been an interesting tour.
Its been four or five years since Norman felt like the bionic man. But hes just following the footsteps of all those gents who turned 50 before him ' Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus. All of them at one time felt immortal. All said that when they reached 50, they might play a senior event or two, but most of their play would be on the regular tour.
But once that magic age got near, they began to realize what a golden opportunity it affords. Now add one more ' Greg Norman.
Norman turns 50 on Feb. 10th next year. The last 3-4 years have been a disappointment golf-wise - he has had hip surgery, his back continues to be cranky, and all those myriad little physical ailments began to pop up. Suddenly, those three-day tournaments of the Champions Tour looked much more inviting. Suddenly, Greg began to think about all those great rivalries he has had over the years, and he began to long to renew them.
These kids are very, very good, and its hard to beat them when they are hitting it 50 and 60 yards by you, Norman says. He realizes that a kid whos 25 and hits it 320 yards can almost always beat a 50-year-old whose body has begun to develop aches and pains and assorted little creaks.
Norman has numerous lucrative interests outside of golf, so money will never be a problem. And he says there will always be jaunts outside the Champions Tour ' probably several of them to his native Australia, to the British Open where he won in 86 and 93, to the BellSouth where he designed the golf course outside Atlanta. But now he sees the seniors play a very intriguing game. And he plans to play their tour at least six or eight times this year ' maybe more if his health holds up.
Quite honestly, going back and playing against the Stranges of the world, the Faldos of the world, the Couples' - the guys you grew up with 25 years playing against week-in and week-out ' maybe youd beat them and maybe theyd beat you, he says. But you can always go along in that bottle of life and say, OK, Im going to be OK when Im 50.
So its kind of psychologically tough to grasp hold of. And Im going to be next February, Ive said, You know, its really OK. Its really a very good deal.
So Norman is getting the itch again. Hes much too competitive to suddenly toss it all away. There are business deals, of course, where one must be somewhat competitive. But that doesnt do it like a good old-fashioned golf tournament with men his own age.
Im going to be balancing it out where obviously I can fit it in, make sure it dovetails or bookends with business trips I have, he said. And a lot of it has to do with the condition of my back. My back right now is feeling very, very good.
Get into a rhythm, get into a groove, and start going. If I can do that, Ill play a lot more of a spread-out schedule on the regular tour and the Champions Tour. I cant see myself playing 15, 18 Champions Tour events ' I promise you I wont be doing that. But what is that number? It could be six, it could be eight, any kind of number like that.
The only senior event hes definitely decided on is the British Senior Open, adjacent to the British Open where he also plans to tee it up. But he promises there will be many more.
Norman was chatting during his Franklin Templeton Shootout the past week. The charity is the battle against childrens cancer, and the night previous had been the banquet. Greg was moved, deeply touched, by several youth who spoke at the meeting.
I sit back and think about what I would do if I were in that position, how would I react? he said. When you see some of these children get up there and speak, without one single word of why me ' it really puts it all into perspective. I dont think we can raise enough money for children like that. I think we all take life for granted, I think we all take our fitness for granted.
He isnt taking his health for granted, or his golf game. Or, for that matter, the elder tour. Hes just thrilled there is a special place for the 50-and-overs to show their skills. He is excited about playing again.
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