While stressing that he doesn't think illegal substances are being used, Norman said Tuesday that testing would eliminate any lingering doubts that long-hitting players are pumping up pharmaceutically.
'Because of the peak performance these athletes are trying to get into, are they using performance-enhancing drugs?' he asked. 'I doubt it, because golf doesn't allow that to happen. You need to be very calm and within yourself.
'Now, I say that without any medical degree or background. There could be stuff out there that caters to that.'
In April, three-time major champion Nick Price speculated some players would resort to steroids to keep up with stronger competitors and the trend toward lengthening courses. Last month, drug tests were conducted on the European Tour for the first time after the final round of the French Open.
The lack of a widespread testing policy is a major impediment to golf being included in the Olympics, a proposal floated over the past decade.
Norman believes most golfers would willingly go along with random testing, perhaps four or five players at each event.
'Like with the equipment, I support mandatory testing, every now and then,' he said. 'Just a spot check. Keep the guys alert.'
Going against the trend in major championships, Royal St. George's is giving the golfers a break.
The treacherous fourth hole was a par-4 when the tournament was last played at Sandwich 10 years ago. For this British Open, No. 4 has been extended 30 yards and converted to a par-5.
Par for the course is now 71.
'I'm not quite sure why they did that,' Brad Faxon said. 'That's a pretty short par-5.'
Greg Norman, who won the 1993 British Open, said he would still play the hole like it's a par-4 -- even though the tee has been moved back 30 yards to increase the length to 497 yards.
'It's going to play exactly the same,' Norman said. 'It could have stayed as a par-4, even off that new tee.'
A 235-yard drive will carry the first set of bunkers, so it shouldn't matter which way the wind is blowing. The real teeth of the hole is the green, which is small, elevated and slopes sharply in all directions.
Masters champion Mike Weir said he's willing to take part in a golf exhibition to benefit Toronto's SARS-ravaged tourism industry.
The Globe and Mail, quoting sources it didn't identify, reported Tuesday that a plan was in the works to pair Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam for a prime-time match against Weir and fellow Canadian Lorie Kane.
The newspaper reported that the event would be held Aug. 25, most likely at the Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ontario.
While saying he's not aware of such an event, Weir endorsed the concept.
'It's fun to get away from the stress of grinding it out for four straight days,' he said. 'We could do something for SARS and Canada, kind of put a little boost back into the economy and people's perspective about what's really happening there, which has probably been blown out of proportion. I don't mind doing that at all.'
Outside of Asia, Toronto had the largest outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, a potentially deadly ailment. City officials insist the danger was overblown and are working to bring back tourists.
BABY ON THE WAY
At the 1999 U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson wore a beeper and was prepared to rush home for the birth of his first child -- even if it cost him a chance to win a major championship.
Facing a similar predicament, Nick Faldo said he would probably play on if he's in contention for a third British Open title.
His wife, Valerie, is pregnant with their fourth child. She is due to give birth about 10 days after the tournament.
'I just told her to sit still,' Faldo quipped. 'I don't want her jumping around or going out and mowing the lawn or anything like that.'
If Faldo is contending for victory on Sunday, would he leave the course as Mickelson was willing to do?
'Come on, give me a scenario. Six-shot lead and the phone goes?' Faldo said, drawing laughter. 'I've been told to stay and play. That would be good. I would like to be in that position and see what happens. That would test me.'
Rich Beem stopped by the merchandise tent to help sell some clubs for his sponsors, though his first swing was hardly a ringing endorsement.
Beam, the winner of the 2002 PGA Championship, hit a few drives into a net while a computer analyzed his swing. When his first attempt was projected at 260 yards, he looked incredulously at the moderator.
'Don't believe everything you see there,' said Beem, whose driving average is 290.3 yards. 'That felt like 280.'
'So, you think it's conservative?' the moderator asked.
'I think it stinks,' Beem replied with a smile.
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