Date: February 19, 2009
Author: Paul Barbieri, Sportal

Shark shocked with a 75

Greg Norman was left disappointed with some poor putting on the first day of the Johnnie Walker Classic at the Vines, that&aposs left the Shark with a mountain to climb if he&aposs even to make the cut at the $2.75 million dollar (AUD) tournament. Despite starting and finishing with birdies, Norman produced three bogeys and a double bogey in between as his putting game refused to come online, leaving him 11 strokes adrift of Dutch leader Robert-Jan Derksen, who signed for a faultless eight-under 64. “Seventy-five is a bit of a shock to me,” said Norman. “But that&aposs my score and I&aposve got to take it.” “I actually felt pretty good. I had one bad drive and took a double bogey and took three putts.” “(But) I played better than I thought I would do. The putter let me down and that was it. If I putted half decent, I would probably have shot under 70. That&aposs the way it is,” he said. Norman said he appreciated the cooler conditions on Thursday morning at the Vines course, half-an-hour&aposs drive outside of Perth, the gentle breeze and mid-20s temperature proving ideal for golf. One player particularly appreciating the conditions was 35-year-old Dutchman Derksen, who suffered heat stroke last week during the second round of the Malaysian Open as he failed to make the cut. But there seems little danger of that occurring this weekend as Derksen produced eight birdies, including five on his back nine to set the early pace and finish one stroke adrift of a course record 63 by Padraig Harrington. “I have shot a lot of 65s (on the European Tour) but never a 64,” Derksen said. “I was playing well in Malaysia, but the focus was not there in the middle of the second round.” “But I&aposve played this course a few times for the Heineken (Cup), I think eight or nine years ago. I know the course really well and I think it suits my game.” “It&aposs a good start and it&aposs always nice to have, it&aposs as simple as that but there&aposs a lot of golf to be played.” “There are not a lot of easy holes and I made three par fives today. But if you&aposre slightly off, you can make some big numbers I think as well,” he said, a sentiment Norman would surely agree with.”