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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Greg Norman returns to QBE Shootout after attending President George H.W. Bush funeral

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Greg Norman wasn’t going to miss President George H.W. Bush’s funeral, even if it was the 30th anniversary of his PGA Tour event.

“It was the right thing to go,” he said Thursday, after returning late Wednesday, then playing in the pro-am Thursday morning at the QBE Shootout at Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. “I had a lot of fun times with the president in the past. I played golf with him quite a lot and enjoyed his humor and enjoyed his direct advice in many ways. He’s a guy that — I don’t mind saying this, he was the one who taught me never to judge anybody.”

Norman reiterated a story he told here earlier this week, about not wanting to play golf with President Bill Clinton in Australia, and calling up President Bush for advice. Bush told him pointedly to play and to respect the Office of the President of the United States.

“From that moment on I promised myself I would never prejudge anybody again, because when I did play with President Clinton in Australia, we hit it off and we’re friends today,” Norman said. “Forgetting what political position and political views you have, he’s a human being — he’s a great human being. He’s a good person to be around.”

Norman was touched by the entire service in Washington, D.C., but highlights for him were eulogies by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former Sen. Alan Simpson, and Rev. Russell J. Levenson Jr., who officiated the service.

“It was a fantastic service,” Norman said. “I think everybody who was there really were moved about the service, the speeches that were made.

Now Norman is back to his role as tournament host for the rest of the time, and remarked how the 12-team event has evolved since the first one back in 1989 in Thousand Oaks, California.

“It’s really developed a life of its own,” Norman said. “Billy Horschel told me that it’s now where the players, the veteran players who have played this event for 10 years, 12 years, whatever number of year — the young kids are coming to them now.

“The rookies are saying ‘Hey, tell us about the Shootout. It looks like a fun thing to play in.’”

It’s Greg Norman, so his topics ran the gamut — as if his tournament and attending a President’s funeral weren’t enough — from discussing the rotating of the No. 1 spot in the world ranking, Tiger Woods, to his own workouts,  and how much golf he’s playing (“It’s a little bit of golf,” he said. “It’s still hard for me to get into it … I kind of wane very, very quickly and I’m in and out fast.”)

Since Dustin Johnson held the No. 1 spot for 64 weeks in 2017 and early 2018, Justin Thomas (2 weeks), Johnson (8 weeks), Justin Rose (2 weeks), Johnson (4 weeks), Brooks Koepka (2 weeks), Rose (1 week), Koepka (1 week), Rose (1 week) and Koepka (current) have passed around the top position.

Norman, who had the record of 331 weeks at No. 1 until Woods broke it, thinks it’s a good thing for golf.

“It’s just really, really healthy for the game,” Norman said. “I actually watch TV because I am enjoying watching this baton go back from one to another, and why and who’s playing the best in a given short period of time.

“But it’s the consistency level that these guys are putting in now week after week after week, and that keeps them elevated at No. 1.”

Norman, who was featured in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue this year, still maintains a workout routine, even at age 63.

“Today I’m going to leave here and I’ll go to the gym for maybe an hour, hour and a half,” he said. “I won’t do a full session here, because it’s not the same gym that I’m used to.”

It’s a different mindset in his gym — many times with music blaring if he’s not watching television. And that music could be literally anything, from the Beatles to dance music, anything to keep his energy up.

“I’m there on my own, so it’s my time and I do whatever I want, and I shut everybody else and the rest of the world out from 4 to 6 p.m.,” Norman said. “If I want to watch news, I turn that on. If I don’t want to watch news, I crank that music up and just get lost somewhere.

“… Sometimes you go from a 50-pound weight to a 55-pound weight because you get so jacked up, you get excited.”