Date: July 18, 2008

Norman plays down chances

Greg Norman vowed to keep his expectations &aposrealistically low&apos despite a first-round 70 in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Norman, winner at Turnberry in 1986 and Sandwich in 1993, carded two birdies and two bogeys to lie just one shot off the lead shared by Graeme McDowell, Rocco Mediate and Robert Allenby. But the 53-year-old, who married former tennis star Chris Evert in the Bahamas at the end of June and feels it has &aposrevitalised&apos his life, was not getting carried away in just his sixth tournament of the year. “I practise more tennis than golf,” insisted Norman. “But there&aposs something about this tournament, the atmosphere, the excitement.” “Coming down the 18th after five and a half hours, the way the crowd react to you, you don&apost get that anywhere else.” “I have to keep my expectations realistically low. People say it&aposs like riding a bike but even doing that after a while you&aposre a little wobbly.” Norman&aposs even-par round was matched by Adam Scott, while Stuart Appleby signed for a two-over 72. Asked about his chances of winning, the Great White Shark added: “I&aposm not even going to get my head in that position.” “If I give myself a chance at the end of the tournament, then you start thinking about it. But you don&apost on a Thursday afternoon.” And Evert agreed, adding: “I would be very surprised if he could keep up that standard. He does not practise and play that much.” “I would love to see it happen but it&aposs probably too much to expect.” Norman was full of praise for the set-up of the course and admitted he and the other later starters had enjoyed by far the best of the conditions. “I think it&aposs the best Open I&aposve ever played in. The course has been set up the fairest and toughest I&aposve ever seen. It&aposs very balanced and gives the opportunity to someone like me to get a good score on the board,” he said. “These conditions are an equaliser. Maybe some of these young players have not experienced it before.” “When somebody asked me the toughest conditions I&aposd played in and said Turnberry 1986. Some of these kids might not have been born then.” “We got the better side of the draw, no question. You watch it and feel sorry for the guys but I&aposve been there too.” Norman did not play in the last two Opens through injury and admitted he had no wish to return to a full competitive schedule. “The mind still wants to play but the body doesn&apost want to practise,” added the Australian. “It&aposs gone through enough pain and surgery and I just don&apost want to do it any more. I still enjoy playing but I don&apost enjoy standing on the range for four hours a day.” “The other side of my life is fantastic. I have the most beautiful balance I have ever had. When it was golf, golf, golf everything else was second. Now golf is second behind everything else.” First Round Scores from the British Open, Royal Birkdale Golf Club -1: Robert Allenby (Australia) 69, Rocco Mediate 69, Graeme McDowell 69 E: Bart Bryant 70, Greg Norman (Australia) 70, Adam Scott 70 +1: Jim Furyk 71, Retief Goosen 71, Peter Hanson 71, Greg Havret 71, Fredrik Jacobson 71, Simon Wakefield 71, Anthony Wall 71, Mike Weir 71 +2: Kyung-Ju Choi 72, Miguel Angel Jimenez 72, Anthony Kim 72, Jeffrey Overton 72, Ian Poulter 72, Kevin Stadler 72, Sergio Garcia 72, Stuart Appleby (Australia) 72, Brandt Snedeker 72, Ross Fisher 72, Alexander Noren 72, Chih-Bing Lam 72 Also: +4: Brendan Jones (Australia) 74, Nick O Hern (Australia) 74 +5: Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 75, Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 75 +6: Richard Green (Australia) 76, Ewan Porter (Australia) 76, David Smail (New Zealand) 76 +7: Craig Parry (Australia) 77, Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 77, Rob Pampling (Australia) 77 +8: Rohan Blizard (Australia) 78, Andrew Tampion (Australia) 78 +11: Adam Blyth (Australia) 81 +12: Peter Fowler (Australia) 82 +14: Scott Strange (Australia) 84 +15: Bradley Lamb (Australia) 85