COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Greg Norman plays more recreational tennis these days than serious golf thanks to his new bride, Chris Evert.
Yet, here he is hitting the links like he’s 33 instead of 53.
Credit the bliss, and for that, thank his new bride.
“It’s reflected in my game, but it’s more contentment with life,” Norman said.
Norman went straight from his honeymoon to the 54-hole lead at the British Open, where he finished third, then followed that up a tie for fifth at the Senior British Open last week.
Norman brings his rejuvenated game to the U.S. Senior Open this week at The Broadmoor, where Evert’s name is engraved in stone commemorating the opening 14 years ago of the mountain resort’s world class tennis center.
“I’m not the lone wolf here, but we all know if you’re happy in life, everything else in the world seems pretty darn good,” Norman said. “My golf is where it is now because I love being where I am now.”
The two were married this month after his $103 million divorce became final.
The 53-year-old Australian golfer won the British Open in 1986 and 1993. Evert has 18 Grand Slam singles titles to her name.
“We sit back and we have conversations about things in general and things in life and the respect we have for each other and our respective careers,” Norman said.
Their sports may be dissimilar but their desires to win are identical, he said.
“It’s wonderful to have a companion and your wife to be able to sit back and talk about it,” Norman said.
All this marital merriness and great golf, however, doesn’t make Norman want to drop everything he’s doing in his business ventures and return to the fairways full-time.
“It really doesn’t make me want to play more,” he said. “I just want to play better.”
On Monday, he turned down an invitation to play in the PGA Championship, deciding to stick to a previous commitment instead of competing for the fourth straight week.
The PGA Championship will be played Aug. 7-10 at Oakland Hills in Bloomfield Township, Mich.
Norman said he would return to work next week as CEO of Great White Shark Enterprises instead.
“It is one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make in golf, turning down the PGA,” Norman said. “I was torn with it. I talked about it with Chrissy a lot. I talked about it with Bob Collins, the president of my company, a lot. Eventually, it was my decision.”
Norman indicated Wednesday that he will accept his invitation to the Masters for finishing among the top four in the British Open, however.
“I feel great that I’ve played my way into Augusta,” Norman said. “So, I can look forward to that come April, play myself into (shape).”
Norman said one thing he’s realized this month is his competitive nature is as strong as ever.
“I have been disappointed in my two finishes the past two weeks, which is a very good sign,” Norman said.
He has that same passion for designing golf courses around the globe that he has for playing them.
“Business is no different than golf,” he said. “All I want to do is get better in business; all I want to do is improve in golf. Even in my whole career, I never wanted to be the best in the world. I just wanted to be the best I could be.”
Norman tees off Thursday morning with Curtis Strange and Fuzzy Zoeller as the field of 156 golfers tries to conquer the East Course, the longest in U.S. Senior Open history, a 7,254-yard layout that plays to a par 70.
Norman is one of the favorites, and not just because he’s hot. His game is a good fit for The Broadmoor with its 6,000 feet of elevation, notoriously tricky greens and long layout.
“He hits the ball very high, so he does have a big advantage doing that,” Tom Watson said. “The higher you hit the ball in altitude here, the better, because that ball just keeps on carrying and carrying and carrying.”
Like everyone else in the field, Norman will need a breather after this week is over, but he bristled when somebody suggested he’d be taking a break by packing his clubs away.
“I’ve got golf courses under work, a couple of board meetings to go to. So, it’s back to business as usual,” Norman said. “A break, no. It won’t be a break. I’ll just go straight into next week. I’ve got to get back to work.”
Honeymoons, after all, can’t last forever.