Norman Whistles While He Works Even If Its Dirty Work
But there he was, and it seemed for all the world like the Norman of old. He birdied the first two holes at Firestone Country Club. He chipped in at the seventh. On the backside it was his putter doing the work. And he finished with a 65. Heads whipped around in a hurry at such a report.
Dont forget that this was the man who held down the top spot on the World Rankings longer than any creature alive, save one Tiger Woods. But this also was the same man who has missed the cut already four times this season. A man who has shot 82 twice this year, who has failed to break par 11 times. He hasnt played enough this season to place in the official rankings (10 times prior to the NEC), but his driving average wouldnt have placed him the top 125. He was one of the worlds most dangerous putters, yet his putting wouldnt have been in the top 150. He was lost, a man 46 years old who looked like all the rest of the mid-40 guys save Scott Hoch. He looked like a boxer who was just hanging on with one hand clutching the ring, just trying to tread water until the Senior Tour.
Then ' this.
One thing about Norman, he has never for a minute lacked confidence. Talk about a man whistling on his way to the gallows! But one reason he has been such a giant in the game is because he was supremely confident, and he was just as much as ever at the NEC.
It doesnt matter the golf course you are playing, he was saying. Youve fixed up a technique in your golf game. I could go play a links course right now and still feel great about it. Its just the fact that I see and feel comfortable again with a golf club in my hand.
One round, or one tournament, doesnt end a slump which has gripped Norman since his last big year in 1997. But this certainly was a headlight peering through the darkness of the tunnel.
Right now, its as confident and good as Ive felt in probably two or three years on the golf course, Norman said. It just feels comfortable again. I still hit the ball long enough and I still have a lot of mental attitude, and so I want to keep on going.
In addition to the shoulder and hip surgeries, both of which sidelined him for about a year, he has been branching out in business. He designs a lot of golf courses. He has a wine business. He has a clothing business. Some whisper that he doesnt have time for practice anymore, not at the age of 46.
Not so, says Norman, who insists his practice hasnt been hampered one bit by his outside businesses.
Ive always been a practicer, he said. Ive always worked out. Ive always practiced at home. Just because I dont play tournament golf doesnt mean I am not practicing. I still play a lot.
Yeah, theres times when I take it off, but I bet I havent gone ' oh, six, seven days without hitting a golf ball this year. Even if I go to the back of my house and hit 150 balls in the river at the end of the day after doing other work, I still do it.
Norman loves the game, after 30 years. He hasnt played enough to get burned out ' a full season for him is 15 events in the U.S., two or three in his native Australia, maybe three or four elsewhere around the world. The last three years, thanks to the surgeries, he has played even less ' he has teed it up in the U.S. a total of 20 times. So he is definitely not over-golfed.
I get just as much satisfaction today as I did back when I was 25, 30, playing the game, he says. But on the other side of the coin, Ive established myself in the business world, where if I ever did decide to stop ' goodbye! And its not going to be a hard goodbye.
Then, he reversed himself a little. It WILL be a hard goodbye when he decides to chunk the clubs in the closet for the final time. He came very close to saying that he will continue playing at least some of the time when he is 55 or 60.
I dont think you can ever retire from this game of golf, he said in a particularly weak moment.
I read about Fred Couples saying hes ready to retire. I said to him on the driving range, You cant retire! How can you retire from the game of golf?
You can retire from hockey, you can retire from the NBA, you can retire from being a quarterback on a football team, you can retire from being a professional tennis player because you cant compete again. But in golf, you can still compete.
Now, if Freddie is ready to retire, he might only play eight tournaments a year, he might enjoy doing that. I would not even call that semi-retirement, because hes still got to practice and hes still got to play. Its an interesting phraseology to try explaining, I suppose.
So the man they call The Shark was back again himself, and he said there isnt anything about the past he would change. Nor is there anything about the future.
You know, if you ever sat down and tried to second-guess your past, then you would be in big trouble, he said at Akron. This means you havent done a good job with it.
I can turn around and look over my shoulder and say Ive done a great job in the past, no matter what the circumstances My past has been a phenomenal past. And I know my future is going to be a very good future, too.
Spoken like a true Greg Norman. In good times, or in what would seem to the rest of us to be bad times, hes always whistling a happy tune.
Ive always felt that when you feel a little bit down, take a look in the rear-view mirror and take a look at whats happened back there. And man, I tell you what, theres a lot of great things and positive things in my life that I would never change for anybody, anybody in this world.
So, Im happy.
Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win
SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.
The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.
Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.
In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.
Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.
Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.
Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere
Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.
Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.
It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.
"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."
Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.
But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.
As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.
The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.
Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal
Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.
Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.
Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.
"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."
Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:
Disappointing. Clearly misunderstood my explanation. pic.twitter.com/YcKHMPf2v7— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 15, 2018
Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.
Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker
A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.
The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.
There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.
But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.
As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.
This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.