Date: November 30, 2010
Author: Steve Orme, Sportal

Shark downplays Open chances

Greg Norman has warned his legion of fans not to expect a repeat of his 2008 British Open heroics when he tees it up in this week&aposs Australian Open presented by Century 21 at The Lakes Golf Club. The Shark, who has played just four rounds of competitive golf in 2010 since returning from shoulder surgery in September, turned back the clock at Royal Birkdale two years ago to almost secure a third major title at the age of 53. But while he admits he still loves the thrill of competition, the five-time winner of the Stonehaven Cup was quick to play down his chances on the revamped Lakes layout this week. “My expectations are very low right now to be honest with you,” Norman told a packed press conference at The Lakes on Tuesday. “I&aposve been very, very consistent (in saying) I love to compete but I hate to practise. And I mean that in all sincerity because I really don&apost like standing out there for 10 hours a day hitting golf balls anymore.” “My practise routine now is maybe 45 minutes to an hour hitting golf balls and go play 18 holes, and I never used to do it that way … my whole process of honing my skills nowadays is different to what it used to be.” “But when I get out there and play I like to push myself the way I used to push myself, so I have to balance my own expectations within myself and quite honestly when I go play golf I&aposm not really worried about am I going to shoot 63.” “If I shoot 72 or 74 I&aposm not that worried about it.” Norman opted against braving the rainy conditions at The Lakes on Tuesday but will take part in the pro-am on Wednesday. He says his injured shoulder is now fully healed after more than a year on the sidelines. “My right shoulder&aposs now like a 25-year-old&aposs shoulder, my left shoulder&aposs like a 55-year-old&aposs shoulder,” he said. “So maybe I should have had both of them done at the same time. It was a little bit more extensive than what we planned on doing, but anyway it feels fantastic now.” Having won his first Australian Open crown at the same venue in 1980, the 55-year-old is an unabashed fan of the original layout which was modified by Mike Clayton 18 months ago. But while he labelled some of the undulations on the greens as &apossevere&apos, Norman believes the rainy conditions could render the 6315m course defenceless. “I remember The Lakes of old and I&aposve got really good fond memories of The Lakes of old so I&aposm going to be a bit biased because I like the way The Lakes played before.” “I&aposve played around here one time but visually it&aposs a totally different looking golf course … it&aposs not as intimidating off the tee.” “If it&aposs very soft the greens are going to be, you&aposre going to be able to get at them.” “I don&apost know what the weather forecast is going to be leading into the weekend whether it&aposs going to be windy or not but if the conditions stay soft you&aposll be able to play very, very aggressive.”