Norman tips Watson in the British Open

Thursday, 3 June 2010
Greg Norman
Greg Norman

Golfing great Greg Norman admits he has no idea what to expect when he makes his return to competitive golf at next month's British Open championship, but the former world No.1 has boldly declared fellow veteran Tom Watson the man to beat.

Norman, who has barely touched a club since undergoing a shoulder reconstruction last September, says he faces an uphill battle to be ready for the 150th Open Championship to be held at St Andrews from July 15-18.

But the Australian, who placed third at Royal Birkdale in 2008, believes five-time champion Watson can improve on his miraculous second-place finish at Turnberry and claim a ninth Major championship at the age of 60.

"I truly believe that somebody like a Watson can step up to the plate, somebody who's plus-50 because that's the type of golf course that allows you to do that," Norman said in Sydney on Thursday.

"St Andrews lends more to a shot maker so experience probably will come more into play there."

Norman, himself a two-time Open champion, is just hoping to make it to the first tee after the longest layoff of his professional career.

"Last Friday I got a clean bill of health from my doctor, it's been since the first week of September since I actually played the game of golf," he said.

"I hit golf balls for two days in a row for about 45 minutes. I'm going to shoot for the British Open, it's the 150th anniversary of the British Open and they're getting all the past champions back there."

"The R and A have done a phenomenal job of putting on an exhibition match of all the past champions, four holes on Wednesday (before the opening round)."

"I'm looking forward to getting there but how I'm going to play I don't know - it'll be my first tournament in nearly a year. St Andrews is a good venue for that, it's not too much of a, I shouldn't say a demanding golf course, but you can kind of ... hit it anywhere and be ok."

Pressed on his expectations, Norman did little to instil confidence in his legion of fans.

"Even when I played my best golf I shot 80s and 78s," he joked.

"So I expect to do the same thing. It's golf, it's relative."

"I'm just looking forward to getting back to playing and I really am looking forward to getting to St Andrews."

"It's a great venue."

Meanwhile, Norman says he'll be fit and firing in time for the 2010 Australian Open at The Lakes in Sydney in December.

"Time will tell," Norman said from The Lakes clubhouse when asked if he's capable of winning a sixth Australian Open in 2010.

"Come December I'll definitely be ready no question. I mean four to five weeks to get ready for a Major championship (British Open) is not that much time to tell you the truth but December there's plenty of time."

"I'm going to be playing more golf as we lead up to it, so I'm going to have that whole month in the heat in Florida to be able to work on my game anyway, so I'm not really that concerned about coming here in December, whether I can hold (The Stonehaven Cup) up like Adam (Scott) did last December, who knows?"

Norman revealed he plans to play up to five events in the lead up to his national Open, which will also feature defending champion Scott and Victorian Geoff Ogilvy.


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