Norman Seeks Olympian Feat
He’s burning to win something big again. You can sense it in his voice and in his eyes.
We’re not talking about this week’s Shark Shootout or any future golf tournament.
We’re talking about his teaming with Lorena Ochoa to win the bid to design the golf course that will be home to golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Norman knows he’s got some fierce competition with Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam also teaming to try to win the bid.
It’s a huge project, Norman will tell you, because of the monumental impact the Olympics could have on the future of the game and the business of the sport.
“I think there are seven others [making bids] at the moment,” Norman said. “There might be more potential designers putting their hats in the ring.”
Norman said he and Ochoa have submitted preliminary application letters. Though he’s not yet certain of the complete Olympic timetable, he said he expects the field of potential architects will be trimmed to three finalists by next summer. Those three finalists will then submit Olympic RFPs (Requests for Proposals). Norman believes the winning bid could be announced in less than a year. He suspects the intricate nature of the planning may require it.
“They’ve got to make a decision here no later than August of next year, I would think,” Norman said.
Norman’s passion for the project is palpable.
“Since [the Olympic golf announcement], the rest of the world has really kicked into gear, as far as I’m concerned,” Norman said. “Not only from a professional standpoint, but from the growth and development of the game of golf.”
Norman said he has 43 architectural projects in the works around the world, just two of them in the United States.
“That pretty much tells you the state of the game in America,” Norman said.
Norman estimates there are 25 million or so golfers in the United States.
“It’s been that number for decades and decades,” he said.
While Norman estimates there are only 3 million golfers in China, he’s impressed by the push to grow the game there. Norman said he was recently asked by the Chinese government to make a speech at a tourism and golf forum, where Chinese officials relayed their intense interest in the game.
“The minister before me said they want 30 million golfers in China in the next few years,” he said.
China isn’t alone in seeking a golf boom.
“The development of the game of golf in Malaysia and Indonesia and Vietnam and Cambodia is just starting to skyrocket,” Norman said. “And then you bring in India. So you’ve got pretty much 50 percent of the world’s population just starting to get into the game of golf. So when you start looking into the future, it’s extremely healthy. It doesn’t matter whether it’s American based, Australian based, or whoever the dominating player is.”
No site in Rio de Janeiro has yet been identified as the potential home for the Olympic golf course. Norman said he and Ochoa’s proposal was based on general philosophy.
“I’m excited about it,” Norman said. “I’ve got work in Brazil right now. Lorena is excited about it. Obviously, her Spanish heritage and her connections down there are important as well. She loves the idea of being involved.”
The nature of the design of the course is only part of the architectural bid, Norman believes.
“Whoever wins or gets the nod to build this golf course actually has to spend four or five years promoting the game of golf,” Norman said. “The decision to get [golf in the Olympics] in 2016 doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be there in 2020. The success of the event is paramount.”
With Nicklaus and Sorenstam in the architectural mix, winning the right to build the course ought to come with a gold medal of its own. You know the competition will be fierce, the reward for winning immense. It’s why you sense the competitive nature in Norman when he speaks of golf in the Olympics.
Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell
Notes: Ogilvy moving family to Australia
Geoff Ogilvy's immediate future involves fewer golf tournament and longer flights.
Ogilvy has been contemplating in the last few years moving back home to Australia, and after discussing it with his Texas-born wife, Juli, they plan to return to Melbourne shortly after Christmas.
Their daughter, Phoebe, turns 12 in October and will be starting the seventh grade in Australia. They have two sons, Jasper (10) and Harvey (8). The Ogilvys figured that waiting much longer to decide where to live would make it tougher on the children.
''We just talked about it, for lots of reasons, and we kept making pros and cons. Juli was strong on it,'' Ogilvy said. ''We're excited. I'm at the point where I'm not going to play 27 times a year. It's going to be brutal to play from there. But you've got to choose life.''
Ogilvy won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, and he counts three World Golf Championships among his eight PGA Tour victories. He also has won the Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship and has reached No. 3 in the world.
His last victory was in 2014, and Ogilvy has slipped to No. 416 in the world.
He has been dividing some of his time with a golf course design business with projects that include Shady Oaks in Fort Worth, Texas, (including a ''Little Nine'' course that opened last year), a renovation in China and a 36-hole course called Peninsula Kingwood in Melbourne.
Ogilvy, who grew up at Victoria Golf Club, still has a home on the 14th hole of the West Course at Royal Melbourne. If he didn't move back home, Ogilvy figured he would be spending six months in Melbourne and six months in Scottsdale, Arizona.
''It's a feeling more than anything,'' he said. ''Scottsdale is dreamy. We live a great existence. I know what I'm getting there. If we didn't move back, we'd be a six-and-six family. The kids get out of school, and they're bounced back and forth. It's not good for continuity.''
As for golf?
Ogilvy narrowly kept his full PGA Tour card last year and this season has been a struggle. He hasn't sorted out what kind of schedule he would keep, understanding it would involve long trips from Sydney to Dallas.
The immediate goal would be to play a heavy fall schedule and miss most of the West Coast swing to get acclimated to the move.
''And then we'll start working it out,'' he said.
US OPEN QUALIFYING: The U.S. Open likes to consider its championship the most democratic of the majors, and it has it just about right again this year. With the addition of 23 players who became exempt by being in the top 60 in the world ranking, 77 players in the 156-man field are exempt from qualifying. That number could go up slightly with another cutoff for the top 60 the Sunday before U.S. Open week.
The U.S. Open is the only American major that does not offer automatic exemptions to PGA Tour winners. Five such winners from this season still face qualifying, including Patton Kizzire, who has won twice (OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Sony Open). The others are Austin Cook, Ted Potter Jr., Andrew Landry and Aaron Wise.
Kizzire is at No. 63 in the world, followed by Wise (66) and Landry (69). All have three weeks to crack the top 60.
Until 2011, the U.S. Open offered exemptions to multiple PGA Tour winners since the previous Open. It leans heavily on the world ranking, as do the other majors. It also awards recent major champions and top finishers from the previous U.S. Open, along with the Tour Championship field from the previous year, to reward a consistently strong season.
''All of the tours around the world have bought into the official world golf ranking rankings,'' said Jeff Hall, the USGA's managing director of rules and open championships. ''And this provides just the right place for us to be with exemptions. We don't have to get into the weighting of one tour over another, this championship versus that event, a week-to-week event. We focus on the official world golf rankings and it seems to get us the right players for our championship.''
FICKLE GAME: Careers can change quickly in golf. No one can attest to that as well as Michael Arnaud.
The 36-year-old Arnaud had never finished better than a tie for fifth in his 49 starts on the Web.com Tour, and that was three years ago. His career earnings were just over $130,000. He had only made it into one previous event this year, and he wasn't in the field at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in South Carolina last week until Kent Bulle withdrew on the eve of the event.
Arnaud tied the course record with a 60 in the second round. He closed with a 63 and won by five shots.
He won $126,000 and moved to No. 13 on the money list, giving him a reasonable chance to reach the PGA Tour if he finishes the season in the top 25.
''A lot of people kept pushing me when I wanted to step away from it,'' Arnaud said. ''My wife was one of those that told me to take the chance and go. Low and behold it really paid off.''
SHINNECOCK SAVANT: Rory McIlroy is excited to get back to Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open, a course he already has played a few times.
Equally excited is his manager, Sean O'Flaherty, who knows the course on New York's Long Island better than McIlroy.
O'Flaherty spent two summers as a caddie at Shinnecock Hills.
He went to college at Trinity in Dublin, had friends in the Hamptons and came over during the summer months in 2002 and 2003 to work as a caddie.
''I got to know a lot of members,'' O'Flaherty said. ''I can't wait. To me, it's the best course in the world.''
DIVOTS: Justin Thomas won the Honda Classic on Feb. 25 at No. 4 in the world. No one from the top 10 in the world has won a PGA Tour event since then, a stretch of 12 tournaments. ... Guy Kinnings is leaving IMG after nearly 30 years to become the deputy CEO and Ryder Cup director of the European Tour. He will report directly to European Tour chief Keith Pelley. ... The LPGA tour will play in China during its fall Asia swing at the Buick LPGA Shanghai at Qizhong Garden Golf Club. The tournament will be Oct. 18-21, one week before the men play the HSBC Champions at Sheshan International in Shanghai. ... Alice Chen of Furman has been selected for the Dinah Shore Trophy, awarded to top college women who excel in golf, academics and work off the golf course. ... The Irish Open is going to Lahinch Golf Club in 2019, with former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley serving as the tournament host.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Matt Kuchar, Peter Uihlein and Jhonattan Vegas are the only players to compete in all five Texas events on the PGA Tour this year.
FINAL WORD: ''The sum of his shots seems to add up to slightly less than the sum of the shots from another guy.'' - Geoff Ogilvy on Jordan Spieth.
Arizona's run continues, knocks off top seed to reach semis
STILLWATER, Okla. – The No. 1 seed in match play has still never won the women’s NCAA Championship.
That dubious distinction continued Tuesday at Karsten Creek when Arizona knocked out top-seeded UCLA on the final hole of the final match.
With the matches tied at 2 apiece, the anchor match between Arizona junior Bianca Pagdanganan and UCLA freshman Patty Tavatanakit was tied on the 18th hole, a par 5 that’s reachable in two shots by many.
Tavatanakit was just short of the green in two and Pagdanganan, the Wildcats’ hero from Monday when she made eagle on the last hole to give her team a shot at match play, blasted her second shot onto the green. Tavatanakit failed to get up and down – missing a 4-footer for birdie – and Pagdanganan two-putted for birdie to give Arizona the victory.
“We’re lucky to be in match play,” Arizona coach Laura Ianello said. “Let’s ride the highs. Why not?”
Arizona will now face Stanford in the semifinals. The Cardinal, the 2015 champion and 2016 runner up, has qualified for match play in each of the past four seasons. They beat Northwestern, 3-2, in the quarterfinals to advance.
USC will face Alabama in the other semifinal, meaning three Pac-12 teams have advanced to the Final Four. The Crimson Tide had an easy go of it in their quarterfinal match against Kent State, winning 4-1. The decisive victory gave Alabama extra rest for its afternoon match.
USC beat Duke, 3-1-1, in the other quarterfinal, pitting teams that have combined to win nine NCAA titles in the past 20 years. But neither team has had much success in the past four years since the championship turned to match play. Not only has neither team won, neither has even reached the championship match.
Duke’s Leona Maguire won the first match and the second match was halved, but USC swept the last three matches with Gabriela Ruffels, Alyaa Abdulghany and Amelia Garvey all winning to propel the Trojans into the semifinals.
Alabama (2) vs. USC (3)
2:30PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (A) vs. Jennifer Chang (USC)
2:40PM ET: Kristen Gillman (A) vs. Amelia Garvey (USC)
2:50PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (A) vs. Allisen Corpuz (USC)
3:00PM ET: Lakareber Abe (A) vs. Alyaa Abdulghany (USC)
3:10PM ET: Angelica Moresco (A) Gabriela Ruffels (USC)
Stanford (5) vs. Arizona (8)
3:20PM ET: Emily Wang (S) vs. Gigi Stoll (A)
3:30PM ET: Shannon Aubert (S) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (A)
3:40PM ET: Mika Liu (S) vs. Haley Moore (A)
3:50PM ET: Albane Valenzuela (S) vs. Sandra Nordaas (A)
4:00PM ET: Andrea Lee (S) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (A)
NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times
The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
After three days of stroke play, eight teams advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals were contested Tuesday morning with semifinals in the afternoon. The finals are being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.
- Semifinals: Alabama vs. USC
- Semifinals: Arizona vs. Stanford
- Quarterfinals: Alabama def. Kent State, 4-1
- Quartefinals: USC def. Duke, 3.5-1.5
- Quarterfinals: Arizona def. UCLA, 3-2
- Quarterfinals: Stanford def. Northwestern, 3-2
- Individual stroke play
TV Times (all times ET):
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals (Click here to watch live)
Spieth grouped with Kisner, Stricker at Colonial
It's a short commute for the PGA Tour this week, as Colonial Country Club sits less than an hour away from last week's host site, Trinity Forest. Here's a look at some of the marquee, early-round groupings at the Fort Worth Invitational, where local favorite Jordan Spieth will look to contend at "Hogan's Alley" for the fourth straight year (all times ET):
8:55 a.m. Thursday, 1:55 p.m. Friday: Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler
Rahm impressed in his Colonial debut last year, finishing T-2 in his first trip around one of the Tour's most historic venues. He returns this week and will play alongside DeChambeau, who missed the cut in his first two Colonial appearances but has played well this year, and Fowler, who makes his first trip to Fort Worth since missing the cut in 2014.
9:06 a.m. Thursday, 2:06 p.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner, Steve Stricker
Spieth has had great success at Colonial, with his 2016 title sandwiched between a runner-up in 2015 to Chris Kirk and one last year behind Kisner, who returns to defend his title on the heels of two straight missed cuts. Stricker, who won here in 2009, returns for the fourth straight year after a T-7 finish last year.
1:55 p.m. Thursday, 8:55 a.m. Friday: Aaron Wise, Zach Johnson, Justin Rose
At age 21, Wise became the Tour's latest winner when he cruised to a three-shot victory Sunday in Dallas, and he'll play the first two rounds alongside a pair of major champs. Johnson won here in 2010 and 2012 and remains the tournament's leading money-winner, while Rose opted to skip the European Tour's flagship event to make his first start in Fort Worth since 2010.
2:06 p.m. Thursday, 9:06 a.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott
Simpson tees it up for the first time since his victory at TPC Sawgrass, and he does so on a layout where he has cracked the top five each of the last two years. Koepka will be making his Colonial debut, while Scott returns to a course where he won as world No. 1 back in 2013 as he continues his quest to crack the OWGR top 60 to earn a spot in the U.S. Open.