wants a successor - 16th November 2003
only one Greg Norman. Without him, and no sign of
a charismatic successor to fill the void, the golfing
vibe in Australia is fading, writes Peter Stone.
golf, as a hospital spokesperson would say, is in
a serious but stable condition.
cure is known, but has yet to be found. Australian
golf needs a player to emerge from the considerable
shadow cast by Greg Norman through the mid-1980s to
the mid-1990s. But not even the man himself can see
was a charismatic approach to the game, one laced
with considerable triumph and well-documented disaster,
but one that was always worth watching.
is aware of the void he has left. Once he anointed
Craig Parry as his likely successor, but that never
eventuated, with the little bloke finally winning
his first tournament on the US tour last year in the
WGC-NEC Invitational, which was his 236th start in
Norman is reluctant to name names. Not Robert Allenby,
nor Stuart Appleby, who are both in their early 30s.
Not Adam Scott, nor Aaron Baddeley, who are in their
early 20s and a generation apart.
very difficult in Australia because the expectations
are very, very high. I set the bar and, no matter
who comes along, the expectation is for someone to
jump over that bar even higher," Norman told
the Sunday Age in an interview from his Florida home.
wasn't an immodest statement, just a matter of fact.
I wouldn't be surprised if there is a kid aged 16
or 17, maybe even 15, who has got a lot of style and
charisma, and panache, out there. He could be the
guy. I don't know who he is. He might be quietly working
his way through.
a Nick Flanagan (winner of this year's US Amateur).
I watched him during the amateur and was very impressed
with the way he handled himself for a guy who supposedly
said he was so nervous."
Norman claims Australia's lack of emerging talent
is a reflection of the sport's stagnation around the
month, Norman is playing in the Australian PGA Championship
at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast. Then, in the new
year, he will play in the $2 million Heineken Classic
at Royal Melbourne. His Great White Shark Enterprises
has financial equity in SFX, promoter of both events,
and even at age 48, he will drag the crowds through
collective will of thousands is always behind him
to win once again for the first time since 1998, when
he lifted his own trophy in Sydney in the Greg Norman
tournament is now departed. A further one less on
an ever-diminishing Australasian tour. The International
Management Group talked for three years of creating
a new tournament, the Perth International, but has
not delivered, cancelling the inaugural event just
three weeks ago. The reason: lack of sponsorship.
Australian Open goes ahead at the new Moonah Links
course, on the Mornington Peninsula, but without a
said the lack of support dollars for golf tournaments
was global. "It's pretty consistent around the
world," he said. "There has been sponsorship
problems over here on the US PGA Tour, even though
you guys don't see it with the level of prize money
(next year $504 million) the way it is, but there
have been corrections over here and there will continue
to be corrections.
European tour has gone through the same thing, so
I don't see the Australasian tour is in any worse
a predicament. It might not be great but the whole
golfing scene on a sponsorship basis, and golf in
general, is really struggling. It's stagnant.
TV ratings over here aren't great unless Tiger Woods
is playing. What golf needs now is more of a cast,
more players to challenge Tiger. We have a lot of
great players but we only have one guy who consistently
carries the sponsorship and the TV ratings. For someone
to come on the heels of Tiger right now is going to
have a hard time because, until Tiger gets to the
age that he says, 'I'm going to slow down, I've had
enough,' it's going to be very difficult to step into
the vortex of a player of the magnitude of Tiger Woods.
had a supporting cast around me - Nick Faldo, Nick
Price, Curtis Strange, Seve (Ballesteros), Ian Woosnam,
Freddie Couples - which was wonderful. That can't
be said of today."
is truth in that, for while Norman dominated the world
No. 1 ranking for almost seven years, those other
six players also were world No. 1 at one stage or
another. For Woods, the top ranking has been his right
for about five years.
Shark hasn't played tournament golf for nine weeks,
but returns next week to partner fellow Australian
Steve Elkington, who is coming off shoulder surgery,
in the Shark Shootout in Florida.
only started hitting balls again five days ago, but
I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing
in a relaxed mode. But, I wouldn't put my golf on
a very high rating right now," Norman said.
to block out Shark and go with the flow - 8th April
Great Aussie Promoters, by Greg Tingle