Norman keen to design Olympic course

By Randall MellDecember 8, 2011, 11:32 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – An old Swahili warrior song celebrates the bravery of both the victor and the defeated.

Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hands of God. So let us celebrate the struggle.

Greg Norman could have authored that in a past life.

He will be remembered as a man who won his share of titanic golf battles, but he will also be remembered for some of the most agonizing defeats the game has ever witnessed.

At 56, Norman isn’t finished with his magnificent struggle.

In the wake of another loss as the Presidents Cup Internationals captain, Norman is barely pausing to lick his wounds. There’s another epic struggle ahead, and it just might be the most intense competition going in golf today.

Norman is burning to win something big again. We’re not talking about this week’s Franklin Templeton Shootout, where Norman is host and a participant. We’re talking about his teaming with Lorena Ochoa to win the bid to design the course that will be home to golf’s return to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Norman and Ochoa were named last week among the eight finalists for the architectural job.

“The process has been an arduous one, to say the least,” Norman said after his pro-am round Thursday.

Winning the right to build the course would rank among the treasured triumphs in Norman’s career.

“It would be high up there, I’m not going to lie about that,” Norman said.

With so much invested in the Olympic project, there is the risk of another stinging defeat. The competition has to be the most formidable that has ever lined up to win a golf course architectural job.

The team of Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam is in the mix. So is the team of Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett. So are Gary Player, Tom Doak, Gil Hanse, Martin Hawtree and Robert Trent Jones II.

Whether he wins another big prize, or endures another big blow, Norman will relish the struggle. He said defeat has been a great teacher.

“Hey, you move on with life,” Norman said of his toughest defeats. “You’ve got to be philosophical enough about [losing], whether it’s on or off the golf course. That’s life. At the end of the day, I think failure is good for you. You learn more from failure than you do success. I think that is part of my success in life.”

A lot of Norman’s life lessons will be packed into his bid to win the Olympic project. Norman is one of the most successful businessmen on the planet. He knows his way around board rooms almost as well as he knows his way around a golf course. He’ll need that savvy with the pressure ratcheting up in the selection process.

Come Monday, Norman said, the eight finalists will receive an informational packet outlining the specs for the job. They’ll each get to visit the proposed site near Rio de Janeiro once before preparing their pitches, which will include routing and schematic plans for the golf course. The finalists will submit their plans before giving a 45-minute presentation, probably at the end of January, beginning of February, Norman said.

“So you’ve got seven weeks to do this,” Norman said. “The timeframe we’ve worked on this, compared to most other projects, this is like a nanosecond.”

Norman has some special motivation. He said he is inspired to do the project right for Seve Ballesteros, who died of brain cancer this year. Norman said Ballesteros shared his Olympic dream with him back when they were taking turns as No. 1 and No. 2 in the world.

“He was so passionate about getting golf into the Olympics,” Norman said. “We got to make sure it stays in. I’d do that for Seve.”

Norman said the winning architect or architectural team will carry a heavy responsibility.

“The overriding message is: How do we keep golf in the Olympics?” Norman said. “The statement you make in 2016 is obviously the statement that is going to carry golf forward . . . Whoever is the final pick, it’s crucial.

“We have this one opportunity now for the game of golf in the Olympics. If we don’t maximize that opportunity, then shame on all of us, in a lot of ways. Does that fall on the shoulders of whoever the designer is? Maybe, to a degree.”

It’s all part of what makes this yet another of Norman’s magnificent struggles.

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Casey (62) opens up four-shot lead at Travelers

By Nick MentaJune 23, 2018, 9:48 pm

On the strength of an 8-under 62, Paul Casey will take a four-shot lead into the final round of the Travelers Championship. Here’s where things stand through three rounds outside Hartford.

Leaderboard: Casey (-16), Russell Henley (-12), J.B. Holmes (-11), Anirban Lahiri (-11), Brian Harman (-11)

What it means: Casey is hunting his third PGA Tour victory and his second this season. The Englishman went nine years between Tour titles and racked up a number of near-misses after dedicating himself to a full-time U.S. schedule in 2015. He finally broke through earlier this year at the Valspar, edging a resurgent Tiger Woods, and now looks to further kick down a finally open door. TPC River Highlands is a gettable golf course, and notable names like Day, Watson and DeChambeau lurk at 10 under, but the field may need some help from Casey, who has separated himself through 54 holes.  

Round of the day: Casey fired the round of the week with six birdies and an eagle at the short par-4 15th. He leads the tournament in birdies made with six in each round for 18 total. He has hit each of his last 23 greens in regulation.

Best of the rest: Jaime Lovemark signed for a 6-under 64 highlighted by an eagle at 15. He enters Sunday tied for 11th, hunting his fourth top-10 finish of the season.

Biggest disappointment: While Casey was ripping up the course, four of the top seven players in the Official World Golf Ranking - Rory McIlroy (69), Brooks Koepka (69), Justin Thomas (70) and Jordan Spieth (71) - combined to shoot 1 under par Saturday. .

Shot of the day: James Hahn’s slam-dunk ace from 154 yards at the par-3 11th.

After a 3-over front nine, Hahn closed in 29 on the back for a ho-hum 67.

Quote of the day: "That's something I rarely see from me, 18 greens in regulation. So whatever he told me worked" - Casey on his work with his swing coach, Peter Kostis

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Watch: Hahn slam-dunks ace on 11th hole

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 7:20 pm

There are aces, and there are slam-dunk aces. No question which one this one by James Hahn on the 154-yard 11th hole was.

It was Hahn's first ace on the PGA Tour.

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Els' nephew Rebula wins Amateur Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 7:05 pm

Ernie Els is one proud uncle.

His nephew, Jovan Rebula, won the Amateur Championship on Saturday at Royal Aberdeen to become the first South African to capture the title since Bobby Cole in 1966.

Rebula, a junior at Auburn, will join his famous uncle in Carnoustie next month for The Open. He also will get invites to the 2019 Masters and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Rebula defeated Ireland's Robin Dawson, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole final.

"It’s unreal," Rebula said. "It’s really something that is hard to describe. I feel like many have been in this position before but it’s an unreal feeling. It hasn’t sunk in quite yet but hopefully tomorrow morning I can wake up and I will feel a little different."

Rebula received plenty of texts from Els throughout the week, and the encouragement paid off. Rebula opened a 1-up lead after 18 holes, and he extended his advantage by winning the 26th and 27th holes. He was 5 up with six to play before finally closing out Dawson on the 16th hole with an up-and-down from the bunker.

"It’s been a long week and especially today," Rebula said. "I should have finished maybe a couple of holes earlier, but it’s been awesome. A very tiring week. I’m standing here right now and there’s so much adrenaline pumping through me."

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Squirrel gets Rory's round off to a rocky start

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 6:42 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy’s third round at the Travelers Championship got off to a peculiar start before he even hit a shot.

McIlroy had just been introduced on the first tee at TPC River Highlands and was ready to unload on his opening drive of the day when a squirrel ran across the tee box a few feet in front of him.

McIlroy stopped his swing and laughed it off, but the squirrel continued to linger for several seconds, criss-crossing from one side of the packed tee box to the other. And while this was no black cat, the pump-fake to start his round didn’t exactly help the Ulsterman.

McIlroy ultimately blocked his drive into the right rough after enduring his brief rodent delay en route to an opening bogey, and amid soft conditions at TPC River Highlands he played his first five holes in 2 over. McIlroy started the day at 7 under, three shots behind leader Brian Harman.