Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Greg Norman will warm up for Masters

by playing in Shell Houston Open

Greg Norman has added another stop on his road back to Augusta.Norman, whose T-3 finish at the 2008 British Open earned him an exemption to this year’s Masters, has accepted a sponsor’s invitation to play the Shell Houston Open, one week before Augusta’s annual spring event.
Business interests have overtaken Norman’s competition schedule in recent years. However, his run at Royal Birkdale, where he held the lead through 63 holes before fading in the final round, rekindled his desire to compete.
“I knew I wanted to play some golf leading into Augusta,” Norman told the Houston Chronicle. Redstone Golf Club Tournament Course will host the Houston event from April 2 to 5.
Norman, who turns 54 on February 10, is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and a former No 1-ranked player in the world.
At Augusta, where he has never won, he is known more perhaps for a 1996 collapse, when he lost a six-stroke lead to Nick Faldo in the final round.
“I’ve had a great love affair with Augusta, even though I’ve never won there,” Norman said. “I still think it’s one of my favourite tournaments I’ve ever played.
“Whenever I go back there and see my friends, it has always been a wonderful feeling. I’m sure it’s going to be the same.”
Norman has won 20 US PGA Tour titles, and the 1986 and 1993 British Opens, but rarely has played on the US Tour or Champions (Seniors) Tour in recent years. He is scheduled to play in the Johnnie Walker Classic next month in his native Australia and has said that he hopes to add a few more events leading up to the Masters.
Norman married tennis great Chris Evert last June, then nearly won the Open title at Royal Birkdale a month later.
Norman will have son Gregory as his caddie at Augusta, and Evert is expected to be in the gallery as she was at Royal Birkdale.
“I won’t have any expectations going in there,” Norman said. “I earned my way in there – I wasn’t given an exemption. I think that’s a tremendous positive for me. I’ll just go enjoy the week, enjoy every step I take, and play the best golf I can possibly play. I would love to get to the weekend. That would be a great goal to have.”



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