Greg Norman said that he expects Tiger Woods to recover his golf skills completely, but he wonders whether Woods will ever have the same confidence again. The former No. 1 talked about the current No. 1 at a media conference for his December Shark Shootout tournament in Florida.
“I don't think it's going to be as easy for him as what it was in the past,” Norman said. “I think his confidence level has been completely dented a little bit. Not on his private life side of things but more in his golf game. I'm sure when he walks to the tee now, he doesn't have the same adulation that he had before.”
Despite Woods’s legendary focus, Norman said that heckling from the gallery can get in a player’s head, even Woods’s.
“You get things thrown in your ear that you cannot block out, no matter how strong your mind is,” Norman said. “So Tiger has probably experienced a little bit of that, and it's going to be tough because he's gone through 10, 15 years of his career where everybody was just yelling great things to him.
“So he's got to make that adjustment, too,” Norman said. “He's a great player. Technically he'll get his game back to where he'll be able to hit the ball the way he likes to hit the ball, and he'll get his confidence back that way, but he has to deal with the other issues, as well, and they just compound a little bit and make life just a little bit more difficult.”
Life under the microscope doesn’t help either, Norman said from personal experience.
“And the sustainability for a player to be at the top level for a long period of time is tough, because he's under the microscope more now than he's ever been, outside of his playability, so you get put on this pedestal so everybody wants to know what you're doing, and the more you keep yourself out there, the harder it is to keep all that stuff away,” Norman said. “So eventually it gets through. So when it gets through, the concentration level and the application level and the commitment and dedication are probably the same, but it's not -- probably is not the way it used to be within himself. He'll come back. He'll come back and win golf tournaments, but he won't be as dominating as he used to be.”
Norman also said that while Woods still has a chance to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 majors, that window is closing.
“As [Woods] goes into Augusta next year, if he hasn't won a golf tournament, that's going to be nearly a year and a half maybe,” Norman said. “That's going to be really tough on him because now you start doubting yourself and you think, ‘OK, when will I ever win again?” and then you've got to think about winning majors to break Jack's record. He's a good enough player to do it, there's no question about it. It's just that as more time goes on, those chances start to dwindle more and more.”
More Shark: Norman tying knot for third time
Samuel Johnson said that a second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience, so we wonder what Dr. Johnson would say about Greg Norman, who’s about to get married for the third time.
Norman, 55, has been previously married to Laura Andrassy and tennis star Chris Evert. The Sydney Morning News has the details on the next Mrs. Norman:
But while Greg Norman remains a towering figure on the Australian sporting landscape, who is Kirsten Kutner, his new wife-to-be?
Unlike Norman's most recent ex-wife, Chris Evert, Kutner has never won Wimbledon or been described as one of the three greatest female tennis players in history.
The Sydney-raised 41-year-old is better known as the wife of Zurich-based financier Neal Kutner, a senior executive at BNY Mellon Asset management. The pair were married in the early 1990s and have two children, aged two and five, but are now divorced.
According to reports, Ms. Kutner has previously worked as an interior designer and has been helping the Shark renovate his $60 million Florida property.
An article in Britain's Daily Mail said the pair had known each other for a long time but their romance was kindled last year when they crossed paths in Egypt while Norman was working on a golf course development.
LPGA winner Recari calls Sergio Garcia’s dad ‘Papa’
Beatriz Recari, winner of the CVS Pharmacy LPGA Challenge on Sunday, said afterward that she is very close to Sergio Garcia’s father. Recari, a native of Pamplona, said that Sergio’s father, Victor, helped her when she started playing professionally.
“I'm very good friends with his dad, and I actually call him Papa Garcia,” Recari said. “They're a great family, and my second year on Tour I didn't have any sponsor or club sponsor or nothing, so I had to pay for everything. And Victor, his dad, he helped me a lot. He gave me gloves. He supported me with balls, gloves. And he really looked after me very well, so I have only positive comments towards them.
“And Sergio, I haven't met him that many times because obviously he travels a lot, and he's very busy, but he's very nice as well,” Recari said.
But if you’re trying to impress Recari -- and who wouldn’t want to do that? -- don’t bother running with the bulls in her hometown.
“A male friend of mine [did]. But he was so proud because he actually got hit by a bull, and he carries the picture everywhere. He is as proud as anyone can be,” Recari said. “But no, all my girl friends, no, we stay away, and it's just kind of a male thing, stupid thing.”
Harrington credits ‘luck of Irish” for Malaysian tournament win
Padraig Harrington nabbed his first win in two years at the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia despite a sore neck that almost caused him to withdraw in the third round, according to The Malaysian Star.
“There’s no doubt that it was my week to win. If you had followed me for the four days, I don’t think anyone would have questioned that my name was written on the trophy before the tournament started,” said Harrington. “I got the breaks all the way through. I hit some good shots and had a few breaks. Luck of the Irish? I’ll accept that.”
Stray Shots: Some things we saw while wondering when Corey Pavin is going to let us tweet again...
Bo Van Pelt said he knows he has to work on his putting during the off-season because The Golf Channel gave him a C in putting this year.
Want to hole out from the fairway four times in four days? Eat at the Westwide Grill in Gilroy, Calif. It worked for Rocco Medaite.
IMG boss Ted Forstmann fires back after lawsuit alleges he bet against clients, including Tiger Woods. (Via Forbes.com)
Beatriz Recardi photo by Associated Press