Norman again on center stage

By Associated PressJuly 30, 2008, 4:00 pm
USGACOLORADO SPRINGS, Co. ' Greg Norman plays more recreational tennis these days than serious golf thanks to his new bride, Chris Evert.
 
Yet, here he is hitting the links like hes 33 instead of 53.
 
Credit the bliss, and for that, thank his new bride.
 
Its reflected in my game, but its more contentment with life, Norman said.
 
Norman went straight from his honeymoon to the 54-hole lead at the British Open, where he finished third, then followed that up a tie for fifth at the Senior British Open last week.
 
Norman brings his rejuvenated game to the U.S. Senior Open this week at The Broadmoor, where Everts name is engraved in stone commemorating the opening 14 years ago of the mountain resorts world class tennis center.
 
Im not the lone wolf here, but we all know if youre happy in life, everything else in the world seems pretty darn good, Norman said. My golf is where it is now because I love being where I am now.
 
The two were married this month after his $103 million divorce became final.
 
The 53-year-old Australian golfer won the British Open in 1986 and 1993. Evert has 18 Grand Slam singles titles to her name.
 
We sit back and we have conversations about things in general and things in life and the respect we have for each other and our respective careers, Norman said.
 
Their sports may be dissimilar but their desires to win are identical, he said.
 
Its wonderful to have a companion and your wife to be able to sit back and talk about it, Norman said.
 
All this marital merriness and great golf, however, doesnt make Norman want to drop everything hes doing in his business ventures and return to the fairways full-time.
 
It really doesnt make me want to play more, he said. I just want to play better.
 
On Monday, he turned down an invitation to play in the PGA Championship, deciding to stick to a previous commitment instead of competing for the fourth straight week.
 
The PGA Championship will be played Aug. 7-10 at Oakland Hills in Bloomfield Township, Mich.
 
Norman said he would return to work next week as CEO of Great White Shark Enterprises instead.
 
It is one of the toughest decisions Ive had to make in golf, turning down the PGA, Norman said. I was torn with it. I talked about it with Chrissy a lot. I talked about it with Bob Collins, the president of my company, a lot. Eventually, it was my decision.
 
Norman indicated Wednesday that he will accept his invitation to the Masters for finishing among the top four in the British Open, however.
 
I feel great that Ive played my way into Augusta, Norman said. So, I can look forward to that come April, play myself into (shape).
 
Norman said one thing hes realized this month is his competitive nature is as strong as ever.
 
I have been disappointed in my two finishes the past two weeks, which is a very good sign, Norman said.
 
He has that same passion for designing golf courses around the globe that he has for playing them.
 
Business is no different than golf, he said. All I want to do is get better in business; all I want to do is improve in golf. Even in my whole career, I never wanted to be the best in the world. I just wanted to be the best I could be.
 
Norman tees off Thursday morning with Curtis Strange and Fuzzy Zoeller as the field of 156 golfers tries to conquer the East Course, the longest in U.S. Senior Open history, a 7,254-yard layout that plays to a par 70.
 
Norman is one of the favorites, and not just because hes hot. His game is a good fit for The Broadmoor with its 6,000 feet of elevation, notoriously tricky greens and long layout.
 
He hits the ball very high, so he does have a big advantage doing that, Tom Watson said. The higher you hit the ball in altitude here, the better, because that ball just keeps on carrying and carrying and carrying.
 
Like everyone else in the field, Norman will need a breather after this week is over, but he bristled when somebody suggested hed be taking a break by packing his clubs away.
 
Ive got golf courses under work, a couple of board meetings to go to. So, its back to business as usual, Norman said. A break, no. It wont be a break. Ill just go straight into next week. Ive got to get back to work.
 
Honeymoons, after all, cant last forever.
 
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    U.S. Open purse payout: Koepka clears $2 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 12:09 pm

    Brooks Koepka successfully defended his title at the U.S. Open and he was handsomely rewarded for his efforts. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Shinnecock Hills.

    1 Brooks Koepka +1 $2,160,000
    2 Tommy Fleetwood +2 $1,296,000
    3 Dustin Johnson +3 $812,927
    4 Patrick Reed +4 $569,884
    5 Tony Finau +5 $474,659
    T6 Daniel Berger +6 $361,923
    T6 Henrik Stenson +6 $361,923
    T6 Tyrrell Hatton +6 $361,923
    T6 Xander Schauffele +6 $361,923
    T10 Justin Rose +7 $270,151
    T10 Webb Simpson +7 $270,151
    T12 Matthew Fitzpatrick +8 $221,825
    T12 Zach Johnson +8 $221,825
    T12 Russell Knox +8 $221,825
    15 Kiradech Aphibarnrat +9 $190,328
    T16 Paul Casey +10 $163,438
    T16 Haotong Li +10 $163,438
    T16 Hideki Matsuyama +10 $163,438
    T16 Louis Oosthuizen +10 $163,438
    T20 Rickie Fowler +11 $122,387
    T20 Brian Gay +11 $122,387
    T20 Charley Hoffman +11 $122,387
    T20 Dylan Meyer +11 $122,387
    T20 Steve Stricker +11 $122,387
    T25 Aaron Baddeley +12 $79,200
    T25 Bryson DeChambeau +12 $79,200
    T25 Jason Dufner +12 $79,200
    T25 Branden Grace +12 $79,200
    T25 Russell Henley +12 $79,200
    T25 Charles Howell III +12 $79,200
    T25 Francesco Molinari +12 $79,200
    T25 Alex Noren +12 $79,200
    T25 Matthieu Pavon +12 $79,200
    T25 Ian Poulter +12 $79,200
    T25 Justin Thomas +12 $79,200
    T36 Rafa Cabrera Bello +13 $54,054
    T36 Bill Haas +13 $54,054
    T36 Brian Harman +13 $54,054
    T36 Pat Perez +13 $54,054
    T36 Gary Woodland +13 $54,054
    T41 Sam Burns +14 $43,028
    T41 Ryan Fox +14 $43,028
    T41 Patrick Rodgers +14 $43,028
    T41 Jhonattan Vegas +14 $43,028
    T45 Patrick Cantlay +15 $34,716
    T45 Marc Leishman +15 $34,716
    T45 Scott Piercy +15 $34,716
    T48 Ross Fisher +16 $27,952
    T48 Jim Furyk +16 $27,952
    T48 Luis Gagne (a) +16 $0
    T48 Phil Mickelson +16 $27,952
    T48 Matt Parziale (a) +16 $0
    T48 Brandt Snedeker +16 $27,952
    T48 Peter Uihlein +16 $27,952
    T48 Tim Wilkinson +16 $27,952
    T56 Dean Burmester +17 $25,426
    T56 Mickey DeMorat +17 $25,426
    T56 Tyler Duncan +17 $25,426
    T56 Chris Naegel +17 $25,426
    T56 Jimmy Walker +17 $25,426
    61 Calum Hill +18 $24,629
    62 Andrew Johnston +19 $24,448
    63 Brendan Steele +20 $24,203
    64 Cameron Wilson +21 $23,959
    65 Kevin Chappell +22 $23,714
    66 Will Grimmer (a) +23 $0
    67 Byeong Hun An +26 $23,470
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    What's in the bag: U.S. Open winner Koepka

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 11:24 am

    Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills. Here's a look inside the winner's bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70 TX shaft

    Fairway woods: TaylorMade M2 Tour HL (16.5 degrees), with  Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 TX shaft

    Irons: Nike Vapor Fly Pro (3), with Fujikura Pro 95 Tour Spec shaft; Mizuno JPX-900 Tour (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts, PW with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shaft

    Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 Raw (52, 56 degrees), SM7 Raw TVD (60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron T10 Select Newport 2 prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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    Repeat U.S. Open win gives Koepka credit he deserves

    By Ryan LavnerJune 18, 2018, 2:08 am

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In an ironic twist Sunday, the last man to win consecutive U.S. Opens was tasked with chronicling Brooks Koepka’s final round at Shinnecock Hills.

    Carrying a microphone for Fox Sports, Curtis Strange kept his composure as the on-course reporter. He didn’t cough in Koepka’s downswing. Didn’t step on his ball in the fescue. Didn’t talk too loudly while Koepka lined up a putt.

    Instead, Strange stood off to the side, clipboard covering his mouth, and watched in awe as Koepka stamped himself as the best U.S. Open player of this next generation.

    And so after Koepka became the first player in 29 years to take consecutive Opens, Strange found himself fourth in the greeting line near the 18th green. He was behind Koepka’s playing competitor, Dustin Johnson. And he was behind Koepka’s father, Bob. And he was behind Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott.

    But there Strange was, standing on a sandy path leading to the clubhouse, ready to formally welcome Koepka into one of the most exclusive clubs in golf.

    “Hell of a job, bud,” Strange barked in his ear, above the din. “Incredible.”

    That Koepka prevailed on two wildly different layouts, and in totally different conditions, was even more satisfying.

    Erin Hills, in Middle of Nowhere, Wis., was unlike any U.S. Open venue in recent memory. The wide-open fairways were lined with thick, deep fescue, but heavy rain early in the week and the absence of any significant wind turned golf’s toughest test into the Greater Milwaukee Open. Koepka bashed his way to a record-tying score (16 under par) and over the past year has never felt fully appreciated, in large part because of the weirdness of the USGA setup.   


    U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


    Koepka doesn’t concern himself with that type of noise, of course, but when he arrived at Shinnecock earlier this week he felt a sense of familiarity. The generous fairways. The punishing venue. The premium on iron play.

    “It’s a similar feel,” Elliott said. “We said it all week.”

    A new, quirky venue like Erin Hills might not have been held in high regard, but the rich history of Shinnecock? It demanded respect.

    “He’s some player,” Strange said, “and I’m proud of him because there was some talk last year of Erin Hills not being the Open that is supposed to be an Open. But he won on a classic, so he’s an Open player.”

    “This one is a lot sweeter,” Koepka said.

    Those around the 28-year-old were shocked that he even had a chance to defend his title.

    Last fall Koepka began feeling discomfort in his left wrist. He finished last in consecutive tournaments around the holidays, then underwent an MRI that showed he had a torn ligament in his left wrist.

    Koepka takes immense pride in having a life outside of golf – he never watches Tour coverage on off-weeks – but he was downright miserable during his indefinite stint on the sidelines. He said it was the lowest point of his career, as he sat in a soft cast up to his elbow, binge-watching TV shows and gaining 15 pounds. The only players he heard from during his hiatus: Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.

    “You just feel like you get forgotten,” Koepka said.

    During the spring, Elliott would occasionally drive from Orlando to Jupiter, Fla., to check on his boss. “He was down in the dumps,” he said. “That sort of injury he had, it didn’t seem like there was going to be an end. There was no timeframe on it, and that was the most frustrating thing.”

    After the Masters, Koepka told Elliott that his wrist was feeling better and that he was going to start hitting balls. Elliott brought his clubs to South Florida, and they played a few holes at The Floridian.

    “He was hitting it right on the button,” Elliott said. “I said, ‘Are you sure you haven’t been practicing?’ He hadn’t missed a beat. I have no idea how he does it. He’s just a tremendously talented guy.”

    In limited action before the Open, Koepka fired a trio of 63s, at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial. He’s never been short on confidence – as a 12-year-old he once told his dad that he was going to drop out of school in four years and turn pro – and he recently woofed to swing coach Claude Harmon III that he was primed to win sometime in May or June.

    “I said to him on the range this morning, ‘You were on your couch in January and February, not really knowing if you were going to be able to play here,’” Harmon said. “I think that’s why it means so much to him. That’s one of the reasons that he kept saying no one was more confident than him, because to get this opportunity to come back and play and have a chance to win back-to-back U.S. Opens, he was going to take advantage of it as best he could.”

    Koepka carded a second-round 66 to put himself in the mix, then survived a hellacious third-round setup to join a four-way tie for the lead, along with Johnson, the world No. 1 and his fellow Bash Brother.

    As much as Johnson is praised for his resilience, Koepka has proven to be equally tough in crunch time, especially in this major. There’s no better stage for Koepka to showcase his immense gifts than the Open, an examination that tests players physically, mentally and even spiritually. But Koepka, like Johnson, never joined the growing chorus of complainers at Shinnecock. The closest he came to criticizing the setup was this: “I think the course is very close.”

    Rather than whine, he said that he relished the challenge of firing away from flags. He accepted bad shots. He tried to eliminate double bogeys. Even after his wrist injury, Koepka showed no hesitation gouging out of the deep fescue, his ferocious clubhead speed allowing him to escape the rough and chase approach shots near the green, where he could rely on his sneaky-good short game.

    “He has the perfect game to play in majors,” Harmon said. “He probably plays more conservatively in majors. We’re always joking that we wish he would play the way he does in majors every week. I just think he knows how important pars and bogeys are. It says a lot about him as a player.”

    Johnson has many of the same physical and mental attributes, and they’ve each benefited from the other’s intense focus and discipline. They both adhere to a strict diet and are frequent workout partners, which even included a gym session on Sunday morning, before their penultimate pairing. They made small talk, chatting about lifting and how many of the Sunday pins were located in the middle of the green, but after they arrived at the course they barely said two words to each other.

    “They’re good friends on and off the course,” Harmon said, “but they definitely want to kick the s--- out of each other.”

    “That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Strange said. “If they’re best buddies, well, you’re standing between me and the trophy. You don’t care much for him for 4 1/2 hours.”

    There was much at stake Sunday, but none more significant than Koepka’s march on history. Squaring off head-to-head against the game’s best player, Koepka outplayed Johnson from the outset, going 3 under for the first 10 holes to open up a two-shot lead. And unlike at Erin Hills, where he pulled away late with birdies, it was his par (and bogey) saves that kept Koepka afloat on Nos. 11, 12 and 14.  

    In the end, he clipped Fleetwood (who shot a record-tying 63) by one and Johnson by two.

    “You’ve got to give him a lot of credit,” Strange said, shaking his head. “He’s got a lot of guts.”

    As Koepka marched away to sign his card, Strange was asked if it was bittersweet to know that he’s no longer the answer to the trivia question, the last guy to go back-to-back at the Open.

    “Heck no!” he said. “What are they going to do, take one away? I’m a part of a group. And it’s a good group. I hope it means as much to him as it has to me.”

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    This time, Dad gets to enjoy Koepka's Father's Day win

    By Rex HoggardJune 18, 2018, 1:39 am

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – When Brooks Koepka won his first U.S. Open last year at Erin Hills the celebration was relatively subdued.

    His family didn’t attend the ’17 championship, but there was no way they were missing this year’s U.S. Open.

    “This year we booked something about five miles away [from Shinnecock Hills]," said Koepka’s father, Bob. "We weren’t going to miss it and I’m so glad we’re here.”

    The family was treated to a show, with Koepka closing with a 68 for a one-stroke victory to become the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back U.S. Opens.


    U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


    Koepka called his father early Sunday to wish him a happy Father’s Day, and Bob Koepka said he noticed a similar confidence in his son’s voice to the way he sounded when they spoke on Sunday of last year’s championship.

    There was also one other similarity.

    “Two years in a row, I haven't gotten him anything [for Father’s Day],” Brooks Koepka laughed. “Next year, I'm not going to get him anything either. It might bring some good luck.

    “It's incredible to have my family here, and my dad loves golf. To be here, he loves watching. To share it with him this time, it will be a little bit sweeter.”