Norman, putting aside his many business interests to take part in this weeks Senior PGA Championship, acknowledged on Wednesday that had things been different as a child, he might have taken up tennis rather than golf.
I never played tennis up until about a year ago in my whole life, said Norman, who plays with Evert about three times a week. I actually wish I had taken up tennis instead of golf. I really do enjoy tennis.
Knowing what I know now, yes, The Shark said, noting that tennis better suits his aggressive nature, something thats both helped and hindered him on the golf course. I get that way on the tennis court. I like to hit the ball hard. If you miss a point, you can win the next two points to win the game. Golf, you miss that one shot, you take a triple-bogey, see you later.
That said, Norman has no regrets with what proved to be a very inspired choice to pursue golf. Its a career thats delivered him 78 tournament victories in 13 countries and allowed him to launch a very lucrative business career that runs the gamut from winemaking to fashion and even earning him a place on the Heinz board of directors.
Norman appeared a man contented, making a rare appearance in a golf tournament and, at 53, his first in the Senior PGA Championship. Avoiding the three steps at the side of the podium, a fit and spry Norman took the more immediate route by leaping on to the stage inside the media center.
Its a stage he was once very familiar with, but now considers part of his past having elected to all but give up playing competitively. The Senior PGA Championship marks only his fourth tournament this year, and comes after he had knee surgery that led him to missing all of last season.
Norman enjoys an occasional casual round with his son, and elects to play competitively only when theres a break in his schedule.
I really dont put a lot of expectations on myself this week, he said.
Normans fine with that because he had prepared himself for pursuits beyond golf some four years ago.
I didnt have the desire to go out there and practice eight to 10 hours a day. I just didnt have it. I was burned out, he said. That was my choice. And I think I made the right choice for myself, my lifestyle and for my business and for my family around me.
Tennis, on the other hand, has proven intriguing. Norman noted he can hit 1,000 balls a day.
Not that hes in Everts league.
No, she doesnt take it easy on me, Norman said with a laugh. We get into a halfway decent rally that I think is great and its probably boring to her. So she will just put it in or put a certain shot across the net and its all over.