Norman Sets Out on Busy Schedule

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Greg Norman strikes out this week on a 2005 that will be extremely cluttered in the summer with golf tournaments. He may be dreaming ' after all, hes had major hip surgery and his spine is a jumbled mess. But hes got an energetic mind and a birthday coming up, and when one turns 50, one can do, oh, so many things! You listening, Craig Stadler?
 
Norman, whose 50th birthday is next week (Feb. 10), is presently in Australia where he will compete in the Heineken Classic beginning Thursday (TGC Airtimes). Then he intends to go halfway around the world to Dubai for the Dubai Desert Classic the first week of March. He returns to the U.S. in time for three or four PGA Tour events, including the Players Championship, BellSouth and Harbour Town.
 
Then he will start acting his age, making his Champions Tour debut the end of May in the Senior PGA Championship. June and July? Those are two busy months when he has grandiose plans of compete in seven tournaments in eight or nine weeks.
 
Oops ' dont forget the regular tour! He wants to play in the Cialis Western Open the first week of July. Then theres another Champions Tour major ' the Ford Senior Players Championship July 7-10. Norman is supposed to cross the Atlantic then for the British Open and the British Senior Open to wrap up July, then return to the U.S. for the U.S. Senior Open and the International on the regular tour.
 
Still with me? We havent yet mentioned the Champions Jeld-Wen Tradition the end of August. There may be another Champions event or two later in the year.
 
Oh ' he isnt eligible yet for the U.S. Open or the PGA Championship, but he hopes to get those in somehow. Lets see, he IS Greg Norman ' if he can maybe str-r-etch the summer hours to 36 instead of 24 per day
 
It's going to be a zoo, Norman confessed to Golf Digest recently while contemplating the ambitious schedule he has cut out for himself this summer.
 
OK, broken down, thats six definites on the PGA Tour, with three other maybes. There are five Champions Tour majors ' and maybe seven total. And there are a couple other international events. This could be his busiest summer since 1997, when he played in 15 PGA Tour events and four other European Tour events at the age of 42.
 
The last two years, Norman has played in only seven tour events each ' partly because of health reasons, partly because he was looking after his business interests, and partly because of lack of motivation. That was 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.
 
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.
 
A couple of weeks ago, Greg had dinner with Raymond Floyd. I asked him, What if I went here, what if I went there? What are the hotels and airports like? Norman said. These were the things you would do when you were a rookie coming out at 18 years old in the United States or Europe or Australia.
 
The back and spine? Thats something that will never be 100 percent healthy, even with surgery, he said. Ive opted not to have surgery, just work out through physical therapy and training. That is why I am a lot more happy with myself because I really have a lot of things under control.
 
With a new endorsement contract with MacGregor, he is about to set out on this schedule, hoping all the while that his health holds up and at the same time the scores stay down to competitive numbers. But if he has to chuck it, he says it still be all right.
 
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.
 
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