Date: July 21, 2008

Norman holds head high

Greg Norman was disappointed not to have won his third British Open at Royal Birkdale but believes he can leave with his head held high. Having taken a two-shot lead into the final day, the Australian veteran shot a seven-over-par 77 to finish nine over for the tournament and tied for fourth place behind Padraig Harrington, who successfully defended his crown, and late challenger Ian Poulter. The 53-year-old&aposs near miss surprised everyone as he has played little competitive golf this year and has been, by his own admission, preoccupied with his recent marriage to former tennis great Chris Evert. After opening the tournament with two level-par rounds and then shooting a two-over 72 to take the outright lead on Saturday, Birkdale was on the brink of a fairytale story more suited to Hollywood. But four bogeys in the first six holes signalled the beginning of the end of a great, but ultimately insufficient, attack by the Great White Shark. “I&aposm obviously disappointed,” said Norman. “That may be an understatement. “I got off to a pretty good start even though I was three over after three. “I had a couple of lip-outs on some putts and if that hadn&apost have happened it might have been a different story but that&aposs the way it is. But I can walk away with my head held high. “The toughest thing is shooting 77. The wind moved around and blew more awkwardly for us, but it didn&apost feel like a high score today. “Padraig played brilliantly. He performed beautifully and like a true champion. He looked like he was trying to throw it away around seven and eight but made a good putt on 10 for par which got him back on track. “The way he finished was like a true champion.” Norman admitted feeling the pressure as he teed off on Sunday but insisted he did not dwell on the fact it was his championship to lose. “When I came on to the first tee I never thought about my two-shot lead,” he said. “I didn&apost think about where I was until the 14th or 15th. “I was nervous walking up to the first tee but it was good nerves. I hit a good tee shot. But you need to get off to a good, solid, rhythmical start and I didn&apost. Maybe when you haven&apost been playing a lot of golf that is harder. “But hey, if I&aposd have won maybe I would have to play more golf and maybe that&aposs not what I want to do.” When asked if he would play in next year&aposs US Masters, Norman, who lives in Boca Raton, Florida, said he had not even thought about his golfing future past the next fortnight. “Time out!” he laughed. “I&aposm going to play the next two weeks and then see what I want to do, what I feel like doing when I wake up in the mornings. “I came here with a good attitude and with a fresh approach to life in general. I&aposm very happy with my life. “I don&apost grind it out on the golf course anymore. I just play when I want to and practise when I want to. I&aposm enjoying playing with my son and teaching him how to play the game. And I&aposve got a lot of other things to keep me occupied.”