Greg Norman founded the QBE Shootout 29 years ago. The 24 player event is being held this week in Naples, Florida at the Tiburon Golf Club.
As part of his duties hosting the event, Norman met with the media Wednesday to discuss the charitable PGA Tour sanctioned event and shared some personal views on a few topics.
The World Golf Hall of Famer remarked:” Well, let’s focus on QBE, number one. We were fighting hard to find a title sponsor, and at the end of the day the way the golf schedule sits and where we sat being conflicted sometimes with the Father-Son made it a little difficult on us, but when QBE stepped up to the plate and had seen the value of what it is, it was extremely important to us but I think more so important to QBE because they’re using golf as a platform to get their name recognition out there in the United States. The rest of the world, they’re a very, very well known company. I think they’re the fourth largest in the world. So for them to come in here and use golf as a platform to get a little bit more exposure was really advantageous to us.”
When asked about the success of the young players on the PGA Tour today, and a strong Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup team, he gave some of the credit to social media of all things.
“Yeah, well, I think that all comes from socializing together, right? I don’t follow too many of everybody’s social account, but just the interaction, the way they are on social media is fantastic. I wish I had social media in my day because I think it would have been fun to interact with the other players and do what they do and say what they say and needle each other back and forth a little bit. But it’s all done out of great friendship and great spirit and you see it coming out on the golf course. There’s probably five or six, seven, eight kids today under 26, 27 that could be No. 1 player in the world tomorrow.”
Norman addressed Lexi Thompson from the LPGA Tour, being the first female to play multiple times in this event and what it means to the event and the game of golf.
“Well, for me it means a lot, but for the event it means a magnitude of great things because quite honestly, when the tournament finished last year, we got more requests through our tournament office to have Lexi back than any of the other male pros. That was a pretty powerful testament, right, because of the way she conducted herself the whole week, the way she was with the clinic, the way she was on the golf course, she was just magnificent. She was the consummate professional, but Lexi was Lexi, right?
So at the end of the day it was very easy for us to start thinking about inviting Lexi back one week after the tournament finished last year, and as it played out it worked out beautifully. When she was invited back, she said yes in probably half a second, so it was great.
But it’s the power of the brand, right? It’s the power of what Lexi is. The people love watching her play.”
Of course no media interview would be complete without mentioning Tiger Woods, especially just after his return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, and Norman weighed in on that topic as well.
“Look, he’s a name, he’s moved the needle for quite a long time in the game of golf. Everybody was wondering, you know, the speculation of him saying, “I may never play golf again,” and then all of a sudden he says he’s hitting the ball 330 yards. Big difference from there to there, right?
But you just hope it just continues on for him because a lot of the stuff he’s done has been self inflicted, but a lot of the stuff that he’s going through now is more, you know, the wear and tear of the body hitting a lot of golf balls, being a power player, your body breaks down and that’s going to continue to be there because he just got ready to play one event, which was an 18-man field, right? When you start getting up in a 156-man field and the golf courses are a little bit more difficult than Albany, a lot more rough out there and he’s got to manage his expectations. Instead of trying to power a 7-iron out of the rough 220 yards, your body may — you do that a few times, you never know what’s going to happen after that.
So I hope he manages his expectations more than everybody else’s expectations being like he’s going to come back and be Tiger of past. I think he still has a little bit of time on his side, but not a whole lot.”
As to Norman’s own golf game he said, “No, my golf game is very scratchy, good and bad. I just don’t practice or play enough. I’m going to play the Father-Son next week. This is the first time I’ve played two days in a row I bet in 10 years, but it needs work. If I had a little bit more WD-40 I think I would be okay.”
Many continue to question Norman’s decision to not play on the Champions Tour and that came up again with the media on Wednesday. Norman left no doubt that is not, nor ever will be in his future.
“No, no, never. No, no interest, no desire, no thought about doing it. Quite honestly, I’ve got so many other great things going on in my life. It’s a pleasure doing the things that I do without having to grind away and try to figure out ball high left to right or low right to left”, said Norman.
Norman will play in next week’s PNC Father-Son tournament and asked what his preparation was before the event he said,” I’ve got a custom made saddle that perfectly fits his back and I can put it on him and I can ride him as hard as I want to ride him. I have no expectation for myself. I’m looking forward to playing with him because he’s really, really excited about it. He’s been practicing every day, wanting to do well. So that’s why I’ve been trying to practice every day just to sharpen my game from zero to one or two, which would be great for him. I’m looking forward to, actually really looking forward to it.”
Norman will tee it up with his son Gregory who according to Norman can shoot anywhere from a 69 and probably mid 70, depends, and he hits it like 330, which is good.
Regardless of his decision to continue to dedicate his time to his numerous business ventures instead of competitive golf, it will be a great week for his fans to see him once again play against some of the greats of the game during Norman’s best years on the PGA Tour.