Golf: State of the Shark — Norman talks about his game, the Shootout, and its field

Scott McIntyre/Staff
Greg Norman laughs along with the players from his team during the second day of Pro-Am action at the Franklin Templeton Shootout Tournament at Tiburon Golf Course on Thursday.

Photo by SCOTT MCINTYRE // Buy this photo

Scott McIntyre/Staff Greg Norman laughs along with the players from his team during the second day of Pro-Am action at the Franklin Templeton Shootout Tournament at Tiburon Golf Course on Thursday.

Greg Norman doesn't have the passion to practice anymore. At least not compared to when the Australian was in his heyday. And his golf game is where he would expect it to be by not practicing.

"I wish I could answer that question in a positive fashion," the Franklin Templeton Shootout founder and host said in his annual pretournament press conference Thursday. "It's OK. That's all it is. I mean, I did hit a few balls after that, and that was it. I actually came from the driving range now, which is a pretty positive sign."

Norman, 57, actually has played in more tournaments this year — four — than he has in the previous two years. But he hasn't played since the Senior British Open, where he missed the cut at the end of July.

"I'm trying to find some semblance of a game, because I haven't really put any true effort into it since August," said Norman, who's paired with Fredrik Jacobson this week. "And that's fair enough. I mean, I've said consistently over the last year or two that I don't enjoy practicing, and I still don't enjoy practicing. It's a matter of concentrating, and if you concentrate on certain shots, you can still do it. But it's hard work now."

While his golf isn't game-ready, Norman continued to speak in nothing but positives on the health of the Shootout, which is being played for the 12th time at Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.

"When we made the decision to come over here, we were accepted very much with open arms," he said. " ... Even though it was a resort-style golf course, all the components, from the hotel, to the golf course, to the driving range, everything made it very compatible to have an event here. The community has embraced it, no doubt about it."

The tournament doesn't release attendance figures, but always has stated it has been pleased with the crowds. What Norman pointed to as a sign of the community support is the growing numbers for Saturday's 5-kilometer race.

"I think the real barometer of that is the 5k," he said. "We started the first year with maybe a couple hundred, if not 150, 200, and now we're up to 600, 700, and going through close to 1,000. I think that's a testament to the community getting involved."

Norman and Jacobson were supposed to play last year, but Jacobson had to withdraw because of an injury. Still, Norman was going to honor the commitment.

"We're good friends," he said. "Our wives are really good friends; the kids play together. So we spend a lot of time. He comes out to my ranch."

Norman is pleased, as usual, with the overall field, with the realization that many of the Europeans who have played in the past have conflicts this week. The Australian Open is going on, too.

"The depth of the players is very, very strong," he said. "The quality of the players is extremely strong. I like the balance we have from the younger generation — the Bud Cauleys and the Rickie Fowlers, all the way out to the Vijay Singhs, for being a rookie here.

"It's a testament that people talk about it away from this tournament during the year. They talk to their friend thinking about playing in the Shootout. This year has shown that, because Vijay wanted to play, and he's here."

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