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Norman, `Veteran Is Still Alive`

Posted August. 25, 2001 09:20,   


The `White Shark` Greg Norman (46. Australia) launched a `signal flare of resurrection`. The first round of the World Golf Championship NEC Invitational held yesterday at the west course (par 70. 7139 yards) of the Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio.

Dropping 7 birdies with his primetime-like superb iron-shots and putting, Norman, who reportedly had mentioned about retirement, posted a 5-under-par 65 to share the lead with Jim Furyk (U.S.A.), a master of `8-shaped swing`. Norman, whose last victory came in 1997 at the Kemper Open, has not been playing well for last four years. It has been his 43th tournament where he finally took the lead.

Norman, who did not record a win since 1997, is recording 4 cut-offs in 10 tournaments, and got in within the top-10 (Bayhill Open, shared fourth place) just once in this season.

The direct reason for him, who had ruled the golf world until the `Golf Emperor` Tiger Woods (U.S.A.) surfaced, to fall into a slump was, his unhealthy physical condition after the left shoulder surgery in 1998, and the hips joint surgery last year. Since he was not putting good records, he concentrated on his `moonlighting` of golf course design and construction that cost him to lose his playing sense.

At an interview right after the first round, Norman showed his determination to win by saying, ``I have never played with this kind of conviction and good shot-sense of today for last two years. Furthermore, this Firestone course is where I won my last title four years ago.``

Meanwhile, Woods, who is seeking a chance to escape from his recent slump, geared up for his third consecutive title as he finished the first round with a 4-under-par 66, one stroke behind the leaders, sharing the third spot. Woods, who had missed the practice round due to food poisoning, brushed off worries of his fans by snatching 4 birdies without a bogie.

Chasing the leaders by one stroke, along with Woods, Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke (both United Kingdom), and Thomas Bjorn (Denmark), as well cruised toward the winner’s prize money of one million dollars with score of 66.

Phil Mickelson, who has a disgraceful nickname of the `sovereign without a major title`, Paul Azinger (both U.S.A.), and Ernie Els (South Africa) also lined up at the shared 7th spot with 3-under-par 67. Yet, David Duval (U.S.A.) remained at the shared 19th spot with a record of 1-under 69. Among 39 strictly-selected players, the `scion of Indian`, Notah Begay III, took the last place with a meager 7-overpar 77.

Ahn Young-Sik ysahn@donga.com