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Greg Norman on why his Presidents Cup team is dangerous, and why Tiger will never win another major

Greg Norman
Angus Murray
Norman will captain the International team in the 2011 Presidents Cup.
Give me your pitch for why you and former LPGA star Lorena Ochoa should win the contract to build a course in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Games.
Her roots are in South America, number one. Her penetration into golf in that part of the world, what she's done and brought to the table, is far superior to anybody else. And the credibility of the design jobs that I've done around the world — environmentally sensitive, hosting Tour events. We're also very good spokesmen. We like to talk about the game. Having golf back in the Olympics is not a given forever. We have to produce the goods in 2016 for the IOC to vote on it in 2020.

 

Why are you two a better choice than Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam, who are also lobbying for the job?
They're iconic in their own rights, but Lorena and I are young enough where we can actually — we want to carry that baton and really push forward. That's a platform that I've been very open about. You have to have the credibility in order to do it, number one, but you also need to have the responsibility that comes with that.

Where are you building courses these days? Mostly in China?
All over. We're in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, China, Australia, Vietnam, the Middle East, Russia. We have 27 courses under construction or just getting ready to go.

How much attention do you pay to the state of the U.S. economy?
It has a direct effect on my business. I believe you lead from the top down, and if I ran my business like the guy in the White House runs his business now, whether it's your debt-to-GDP, or your inflows to your outflows, basically — I'd be bankrupt. If I didn't show the confidence to my staff from 2007 to where we are today, making a change to the business model, making adjustments within human resources, moving people out, which you don't like to do, to consolidate — you have to do that. And I haven't seen that [from President Obama]. And I've got no confidence. It's nothing personal, but the president has killed the entrepreneurial spirit that made America so fantastic post-World War II.

If you had five minutes with President Obama, what would you tell him?
Balance your budget. It's as simple as that. Implement a policy instead of implementing politics. He's introduced 600 new regulations since he's been president — 600 new regulations have to be understood, implemented and executed. And they're handcuffing this country. So what happens? Companies like GE go overseas and make money overseas and don't pay tax in America. At the end of the day it's not working.

The PGA Tour seems to be weathering the storm, though its ratings have dipped. Do you suppose that's more because of Obama's fiscal policies or Tiger's demise?
It's a combination of things. Specifically everybody fell in the trap of what [the NBA] did with Michael Jordan. They put all their eggs in Michael Jordan's basket, and justifiably so, the greatest basketball player ever. You should do that. But at the end of the day, when the run comes to an end, you haven't got a backup plan. People say the ratings are dependent on Tiger, but you have to give credit to these young guys — they're so good. I've never seen professional golf look as healthy as it does today, and these kids are not getting the recognition.

The Tour recently signed another long-term TV deal, though the terms were not disclosed, not to the public at least. Do you think the players also feel cut off, like they're not in the loop?
Look, when I played I always felt that I was cut off as the top guy out there. I really felt like I didn't have all the information to go on.

You and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem have had a contentious relationship since the mid-90s, when you tried to form a rival tour. Has it been awkward for you being a Presidents Cup captain given it's a PGA Tour production and Finchem's baby?
No. He and I have got on great. We really have. I complimented the PGA Tour the other day. They've been a huge ally with our Shark Shootout. We've been together for 22 years, and it's been a tough economic time and the PGA Tour has stepped up to the plate. They really, really have been fantastic.

Would you ever be bold enough to be a playing captain?
No.

What is your greatest strength as captain?
Taking all the outside distractions away from my team so they can go do what they do best: play golf, and win.

And your greatest weakness?
You'll have to ask others for this answer. I hope none.

What do you admire most about U.S. captain Fred Couples?
The connection he has with the members of his team.

One of your most exciting players is your countryman Jason Day. Why might he end up being better than all the other so-called young guns?
He's got time on his side. He's got an extra 10 years on Adam Scott. I like his demeanor and I like his background. He didn't come from an easy past, so he's hungry. He understands, and he's respectful about where he is and where he wants to go. I think he's the next new star on the horizon, for sure.

Has it been fun to watch Scott thrive with the long putter?
I love the guy. He's like my younger brother in a lot of ways. He worked with the long putter the early part of this year on my backyard green at the Medalist [in Hobe Sound, Fla.], when he stayed with me for tournaments in Florida, and I said to him, "Adam, you look more relaxed with this putter." He had a lot of pressure on his short game because he was trying to chip it to two feet instead of to four or five.

Does it bother you that the Ryder Cup outshines the Presidents Cup?
You've got to give it time. You've got to generate that rivalry. The fact that the Internationals haven't won since 1998 is not good for the event. These guys are good. I printed out three sheets of paper, with the top 15 potential players for the International team, the top 15 for the Americans, and the top 15 Ryder Cup guys since 2009. My guys have outperformed the United States and Europe in number-one, top-two, top-three and top-10 finishes around the world.

Plus you'll be playing a home game, or some of your players will.
Well, I also made columns on those sheets for how these guys have performed in Australia, Japan, Europe, South Africa. In two of those columns, there was only one American player who finished in the top 10 in two years. I said, "Look at this, guys: They do great in America, but when you take them out of America they're not doing that great. Why? What is the deal? Why? Why?" It's an amazing stat.

Was Tiger on the list of Americans?
No, he wasn't in the top 15.

 

 

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