Greg Norman is in paradise but she’d rather be in Columbus, Ohio. Norman spent the weekend shooting of a television show and hosting a celebrity tournament in his ocean -side course here, now part of the idyllic resort sandals. But instead she feels she should be getting ready for the Presidents Cup.
Despite two losses as captain – the last on his home turf, two years ago in Australia – Shark he thought and U.S. captain Freddie Couples was brought back to lead two teams for the event this week, at Muirfield Village in Ohio.
He was only half right.
Couples will remain to lead the U.S. team, but Norman was replaced by Nick Price International captain.
“Freddie came to me right after the Presidents Cup in Australia and said, ‘I’ll do it again if you do it again.’ I said, ‘OK, I’m in,’” Norman said.
“So, yes, it came as a big surprise to me to get a phone call late stage out of the blue from (PGA Tour commissioner) Tim (Finchem).
“Let’s just say it was disappointing. Extremely disappointing.”
It is no secret that Norman’s relationship with Finchem is strained for two decades.
The bad blood built when the high-flying Australian want to create an elite world tour but taken down by Finchem, who ultimately recycled the idea to create the World Golf Championships.
Norman, who is now 58, says he was not given a “real reason” for the change Price Muirfield Village, a course Norman won twice.
One of the more dark conspiracy theories doing the round is that Norman was dumped because he embroiled in a war between two rival Swiss luxury watch makers, Rolex and Omega.
Norman, who is sponsored by Rolex, has become public enemy No. 1 when he departed for Omega. Not just because he left but because Rolex believe he used his contacts Omega transmitter golf, a sport that was largely Rolex domain.
Rolex remains the official timekeeper of the PGA Tour and the Presidents Cup.
Last summer, after Omega Rolex replaced as the official timekeeper of the Ryder Cup in Medinah, Norman said he wanted to play in the pro – am for the Senior British Open at Turnberry – where he won one his two majors, in 1986 – and ask you to leave the room in a Rolex – sponsored press conference.
“Look, I know that Rolex is a corporate partner of the PGA Tour and there’s been some speculation I’ve heard that that is the reason why (he was replaced),” he said.
“If that is correct, then all I can say is that you are really pathetic.
“The other sad part about it is that nobody has reached out to me or any of my past teams and asked us what we thought would be good changes to make, or ideas can we had about presidents Cup.
“We are completely cut off.
“One of the teams I had on the International team for this year.
“It really does not make much sense because we experience it. Knew other people would like a shot at it, but why do not you want to hear the opinions of those who came before you?”
Norman now fear for the future of the Presidents Cup.
The United States has dominated the series, and 7-1-1 is a red – hot favorite to win again in Ohio.
Norman – and, it must be said, Price – thinks the event should have fewer points at stake, such as a Ryder Cup, to make the competition tighter.
The deeper rosters Americans represent a distinct advantage over the four -day Presidents Cup because every player must play every day , unlike the three- day Ryder Cup captains which can send out their strongest teams and shield not playing well.
Norman also captains thinks should be given more latitude, taking four selected instead of just two.
None of his suggestions, though, is implemented.
“At the end of the day, I guess it’s their baby and they are going to run it the way they want to run it,” he said.
“But it is crucially important for them to do all they can to make the Presidents Cup a real competition. Currently, it is not balanced and a lot of interest is not there to be there.
“Even with the (International) players, their enthusiasm is not great when they are getting their butts whipped every time. Their energy level is low.”
To illustrate his point, Norman singled out the promise Ryo Ishikawa of Japan, arrived at the Royal Melbourne two years ago just 48 hours before the tournament began.
“He played one practice round at Royal Melbourne. That is not a course you can just show up, play a round skills and get around,” he said.
“Surely that shows up on Tuesday, not really good for team spirit.
“To return to my earlier point, if I could, I’d benched him for the first day until he got a feel for it but all I got to play, so we sent him out there (with Ernie Els) and they were gone.”
Norman says the problem is that format Presidents Cup foursomes on the first day of matches in the U.S. favor.
“That is where every Presidents Cup is lost, because we used to alternate – shot format and we fall behind and never catch up,” he said.
“And I think it is also true to say that we never had our top two or three players to play well throughout the week.
“We had variation in the performance of our best players while (that) the U.S., it seems their best players always play well.
“And if you have Tiger and Phil and Steve Stricker firing on all eight cylinders, the rest of the guys are going to be sucked along.”
Norman was sent an invitation to attend the event this week but it turned down. He has a business meeting and, perhaps more to the point, did not feel particularly like.
“My duty is done Presidents Cup,” he said. “It was made clear.
“Is it sad? Well, yes, I suppose because I wanted to win it for men – or should I say I want them to win it for themselves – but no regrets.
“I know I gave it my best shot.”