ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Chris Evert was making her way up the fairway at Oak Hill’s No. 2 when a big cheer went up following Greg Norman’s much-needed birdie.
“Oh, good,” Evert said with a big sigh of relief. “He needs this to turn things around.”
Famous as a tennis champion, Evert has turned her attention to golf now that she’s engaged to Norman. Wearing sunglasses and a ball cap in an attempt to be incognito, Evert was part of a large gallery that followed Norman and local favorite Jeff Sluman during the second round of the Senior PGA Championship on Friday.
“It’s great. I love it. I’ve never really done this for anybody,” Evert told The Associated Press. “I love it because I feel I understand the intensity of the concentration. … And he’s very intense.”
And Evert, who acknowledged she was never much into sports beyond tennis, proved to be very supportive in her new role as fan.
After Norman, who started on No. 10, bogeyed No. 15 to reach 2-over on the day and 4-over for the tournament, Evert gently rubbed his shoulder before Norman made his way to the next tee.
It’s something that came naturally for Evert.
“We both like the fact that we understand sports and understand competition. And we understand when to be quiet and when not to be quiet,” Evert said. “And just a look or a gesture, it’s knowing that you have that support and having that somebody that understands who’s been there and done that.”
Norman settled down the rest of the round, ending the day with a 3-over 73 to stay in contention. He’s at 5-over 145 for the tournament, and was sitting in a tie for 11th when he entered the clubhouse, still in reach of the lead on a stingy East Course that’s not giving up many sub-par rounds.
Evert’s presence at Oak Hill was unusual because it was one of the first times she was with Norman at a golf tournament since they announced their engagement in December. Norman has all but given up playing competitively to focus on his numerous business ventures as well as to spend time with Evert.
The Senior PGA is only the fourth tournament for Norman in more than two years.
Earlier this week, Norman said he plays more tennis – about three times a week – than golf these days.
The time off hasn’t diminished the presence the two-time British Open champion and 20-time PGA Tour-winner still commands on a golf course. There were numerous fans urging on “The Shark” this week, and several of the players hoped that Norman would make a few more appearances on the Champions Tour.
Evert wouldn’t mind seeing him play more often.
“I would doubt he’d go back full time,” Evert said. “But for him to keep it up, one or two tournaments a month or whatever, would be great. I would 100 percent support him if that’s what he wanted to do.”