Date: December 04, 2010
Author: Steve Orme, Sportal

Norman fails to cash in

Five-time Stonehaven Cup winner Greg Norman has played down his chances of a famous final-round charge at the Australian Open, admitting he&aposs struggling to adjust to the unusually slow greens at The Lakes. Norman carded a respectable two-under 70 on Saturday to sit at three under for the championship in just his third event since returning from shoulder surgery. He trails tournament leader Geoff Ogilvy by an imposing 13 strokes with 18 holes remaining. Playing in front of a typically large gallery after teeing off early on &aposmoving day&apos, Norman, made the turn in two-under 33 and looked set to make a significant move before a costly double bogey at the par-four 12th derailed his charge. It was a brilliant display of ball striking from the 55-year-old who hit every fairway as well as 15-of-18 greens in the calm conditions. But he failed to cash-in with the flat stick to finish with an uncharacteristically high 31 putts. “Not with these greens, no. I don&apost like them,” Norman said when asked if he is capable of going low on Sunday. “They&aposre too slow for me. I&aposm a fast-green putter and I can&apost get the right line or the speed with them, so you&aposre always fighting and you&aposve got to hit the ball too hard to really get comfortable.” “They are very, very slow. They&aposre the slowest I&aposve ever putted on in Australia, there&aposs no question about it.” Despite his obvious frustration, Norman concedes tournament organisers were right to err on the side of caution. “They&aposve got so much undulation, they can&apost get them too much quicker,” he said. “If you got them any quicker, balls would be rolling into the water and balls rolling off the greens.” “So there&aposs just too much undulation there to really have tournament-speed greens.” While Norman says he still enjoys the heat of the battle, he confirmed he&aposll hardly hit a ball in anger over the next six months as he focuses on his golf course design business. Asked how many rounds he&aposs likely to play over the next six months, Norman, who will contest his own Shark Shootout tournament next week before taking an extended break, replied: “Maybe two a month, one a month, something like that. I mean unless there&aposs a real reason to go out there.” “I mean I&aposll go out there and hit balls in my back yard and just chip and putt a little bit when I get the urge and I enjoy doing that at home quite honestly, it&aposs peaceful and you can mess around.” “I could be walking around out there and not care, but I do still care. I just don&apost want to put the time in at the driving range. It hurts the body too much.” The two-time British Open winner plans to return to the scene of his 1993 triumph when the Open Championship returns to Royal St George&aposs in July, and is also likely to play the Senior British Open at Walton Heath the following week.