Pre-Tournament Interview: Greg Norman
December 6, 2018
DOUG MILNE: Like to welcome tournament host, Greg Norman. Greg, thanks for joining us for a few minutes --

GREG NORMAN: You're welcome.

DOUG MILNE: -- at the 2018 QBE Shootout. I was sitting here with you last year and asked you, "Can you believe it's been 29 years," and fast forward a year and I'll say, "Can you believe it's been 30 years?" Obviously a lot has grown and changed over the years, but it's still an event that's just as strong as ever.

GREG NORMAN: It is. I've made a couple of comments this week where it's really developed a life of its own. I think I mentioned at the pro-am draw party where Billy Horschel told me that it's now where the players, the veteran players who have played this event for 10 years, 12 years, whatever number of years, the young kids are coming to them now. The rookies are saying, "Hey, tell us about the Shootout, it looks like a fun thing to play in."

So it's really developed that type of energy on the tour. Before we didn't have problems getting players to come play, now it seems like the players want to come play, and it's a good mix of experienced veterans in a lot of ways, and seven rookies out of 24 is a good number to have. It's always good to see. I'm looking forward to looking at Champ play. I heard a lot of reports about him, so I'm going to go out and watch him play tomorrow actually.

Q. I guess take us through the last 24 hour or whatever.

GREG NORMAN: The last 24 hours, that's playing golf or you mean up north?

Look, it was a fantastic service. I think everybody who was there really were moved about the service, the speeches that were made. I thought Brian Mulroney did a phenomenal job, Alan Simpson did a great job. I think the priest for President Bush 41 at his church in Houston did a phenomenal job. If you haven't seen it and if it wasn't shown on TV yesterday, I would encourage you to listen to it. It's a magnificent 15, 20 minutes. He's been his priest in the same church for a long, long period of time. To hear him talk about it and articulate it and understand 41 of who he was through the church, I think that was -- outside of the family, that was extremely powerful.

So it was the right thing to go. I had a lot of fun times with the president in the past. I played golf with him quite a lot and enjoyed his humor and enjoyed his direct advice in many ways. He's a guy that -- I don't mind saying this, he was the one who taught me never to judge anybody because the story I'll tell and I've told it a couple times now is that when President Clinton, his second year, first term, was going down to Australia and I got a call from the White House saying, "President Clinton's going to be in Australia and he would like to play golf with you." I said, "I'll check my schedule."

I didn't even say I would do it. Because I'm more republican leaning, conservative leaning, my views are a little bit different. I prejudged President Clinton on what I had read and what I had heard. So the first call I made was to President Bush 41, and President Bush 41 said to me -- you know, he stopped me mid sentence saying, "I'm not too sure whether I want to play with President Clinton, I'm not too sure whether I'm fond of his" blah blah blah. He stopped me mid sentence and he said, "You will go play and respect the office of the President of the United States." I said, "Yes, sir." That was it.

From that moment on I promised myself I would never prejudge anybody again, because when I did play with President Clinton in Australia, we hit it off and we're friends today. Forgetting what political position and political views you have, he's a human being, he's a great human being. He's a good person to be around. So I thank 41 for that because I probably would have gone on through the rest of my life holding judgment out on people that you should never do.

Q. Did you have a chance to visit with Clinton yesterday?

GREG NORMAN: No, we didn't actually. They all came in different doors and we came in. Yeah, they came in through the side doors, and they came in right just before the ceremony started, about 10, 15 minutes before it started.

Q. This year's been a lot of changes in World No. 1. What do you think that means for where the state of the game is right now?

GREG NORMAN: I think that's fantastic. It reminds me a lot of the mid '80s and mid '90s in my era, we had 12, 13, 14 guys who could each equally carry the No. 1 baton any time. We were going back and forth. There was three, four, five of us going back and forth.

I think it was so healthy for the players because when you have a group of players like 10 to 12 or 8 to 14 players who, no matter where you go in the world, you're competing against two or three of those guys. And when you're competing against them, they're trying to beat you if you're No. 1, and if they're No. 1, you're trying to beat them. So there was always this constant pressure on you to keep performing, keep performing no matter what you did or where you played or how you played. I thought it was great for the game of golf. It kept me on my toes no matter where I went. To Japan, went to Europe, went to Australia or played golf here, I'm playing against the same group of guys who were just pushing me, pushing me, pushing me, pushing me.

I see that now and I think it's just really, really healthy for the game because no matter where they play in the world now, I actually watch TV because I am enjoying watching this baton go back from one to another, and why and who's playing the best in a given short period of time. But it's the consistency level that these guys are putting in now week after week after week, and that keeps them elevated at No. 1. I think, like I said, I think it's healthy for them.

Q. Along those lines, you were known for having the ranking for a long time, the top ranking. Right now you've got Justin Thomas, you've got Justin Rose, two Justins who have had it, Brooks Koepka has had it.


Q. DJ has had it, Spieth has had it.

GREG NORMAN: Rory. Rory had it two years ago.

Q. If you were to sit back and kind of say, you know, I think if anybody's going to have it for an extended period of time, I think that's the guy. Can you sit back and say that, or is that just impossible?

GREG NORMAN: I think I'm going to say it's tough to call it because all these players are so damn good and on a given week -- an off week for a good player, he finishes in the top-10, right? An on week for a good player, he's there, he's going to take it to the end of the tournament and win.

So when you start talking about that, the margins are so, so small to capture a player when he's really off. There's always going to be another Brooks Koepka or DJ or Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy. You know, the guys behind there now that are champing at the bit to get up there, that next group of great players who are equally as good but they just haven't made that next leap to get up there and the confidence level to win on a consistent level.

Bryson DeChambeau, right? Three wins out of six or seven tournaments. He's going to be up there. If his performance keeps going like that in the first four, five months next year, he could be No. 1, and rightfully so, too, if he keeps winning at that rate.

So when you start looking down the list, you go oh, my gosh, who's going to be the guy who's going to keep going?

I will say this: My era or this era, I'd still like to see them all start traveling and play the world and keep spreading the importance of the game of golf on a global front, not just specifically in one place or in Europe. Keep moving around the world like they're doing, like the FedExCup, they play it in Asia and they're moving it into Japan. Because I see it in our golf course businesses, a lot of activity and growth and want and desire for the game of golf. If we keep the pedal to the metal, we'll start bumping that number up of players on a global basis slowly, slowly. You're not going to do it by 10 percent a year, you might do it by 1 or 2 or 3 percent a year, and that's pretty impressive when it's 50-odd million people you're talking about. So if we keep that bumping up, the game of golf will start getting healthier and healthier globally.

Q. And just you were known throughout your career for working out pretty hard and getting after it. I think you still do that pretty much every day?


Q. Can you describe what you're still doing every day workout-wise?

GREG NORMAN: Well, today I'm going to leave here and I'll go to the gym for maybe an hour, hour and a half. I won't do a full session here because it's not the same gym that I'm used to.

Today it'll probably just be free weights, working on a bosu ball, just body weights, stuff like that, but I have about five or six different routines because I get real bored. And I have really loud music in my gym and I'm there on my own, so it's my time and I do whatever I want, and I shut everybody else and the rest of the world out from 4:00 to 6:00. If I want to watch news, I turn that on. If I don't want to watch news, I crank that music up and just get lost somewhere.

Q. What are you listening to?

GREG NORMAN: My genre is deep. It can be really heavy stuff, heavy bass, get you going, right? It's not like a particular song, it's like the energy of the music that keeps you going. So my genre is anywhere from the Beatles, I can play them. I listen to the Beatles Radio, and then I can go to chill, I can go to heavy dance music, stuff like that that gets you boom, boom, boom, boom, you know. Sometimes you go from a 50-pound weight to a 55-pound weight because you get so jacked up, you get excited.

Q. Are you mixing in any golf these days?

GREG NORMAN: Am I missing any?

Q. Are you mixing in any golf these days?

GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I am actually. I'm trying to play a little bit. Getting ready for the Father-Son next week, that's my next major, so I'm looking forward to that. It's a little bit of golf. It's still hard for make to get into it, to get, you know -- I'm hitting balls, but I'm not playing. I need to play to get the feel of the golf course underneath me. You know, just not get bored, keep your concentration. That's what I need. I kind of wane very, very quickly and I'm in and out fast.

Q. How familiar are you with the rules changes that go into effect next year, and what do you think will affect the professional game or the amateurs?

GREG NORMAN: A little bit. I haven't really studied it because there's no need for me to be involved with it. I really -- I couldn't even make a comment. I know you can drop the ball from two inches above the ground now, right? Something like that.

Q. If the ball moves on its own.

GREG NORMAN: Double hitting, right?

Q. Double hit's not a penalty.

GREG NORMAN: A buried ball in a bunker, an unplayable lie in a bunker, take it out line of sight and it's a two-shot penalty and you go back line of sight, right?

Q. I don't know. You can putt with the flagstick in.

GREG NORMAN: Yeah, putt with the flagstick in. I think you would know better -- unplayable ball in the bunker, take it out, it's a two-shot personality, not a one-shot penalty.

Q. It's going to two.

GREG NORMAN: Yeah. So I guess I do know a little bit more.

Q. I don't know if this is the first time he said it, Tiger brought it up yesterday, he was in Australia, about he wants to play and be a captain of the Presidents Cup. Obviously you have some history with that event. What do you think of him doing that or the possibility of it or how it would work?

GREG NORMAN: He should. If he plays his way onto the team, why not? I mean, there's a lot of captains in team sports who play and captain the team, right? Football, you've got a captain of the offensive line, you've got a captain of the defensive line and they play every time. Why not?

DOUG MILNE: Greg, thanks for your time, we appreciate it.

GREG NORMAN: Thank you.