Norman to lead field in Shanghai golf

April 22nd, 2008 - 5:06 pm ICT by admin  

Shanghai, April 22 (IANS) Australian golf legend Greg Norman hopes to mix a bit of golfing pleasure with business when he headlines the $2.3 million BMW Asian Open starting here Thursday. The 53-year-old former world No.1 is making a rare appearance in Asia where he will take on a stellar line-up, which includes title-holder Raphael Jacquelin, India’s Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa, Henrik Stenson, Retief Goosen and Asian Tour stalwarts Mark Brown and local hero Liang Wen-chong at the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club.

This will only be Norman’s third start to the season but with his competitive juices still flowing, the Aussie is hoping to roll back the years which during his heyday saw him amass over 90 international victories including two British Open titles.

“I’ve always been a believer of promoting the game of golf, whether through the business world or through opportunities like this, playing. I’ve seen what has happened here in China and it’s phenomenal to see that,” said Norman.

“I haven’t really quit the game of golf. I still practice. As long as I get invited to come back, I’m going to continue to play in certain places around the world. We have a couple of job opportunities here and will have some meetings this week.”

Last December, Norman, nicknamed the “Great White Shark”, showed some old bite in his game by tying for seventh place in the South African Airways Open, finishing well ahead of the likes of Ernie Els and Goosen.

Although his golf course projects around the globe have taken up most of his time these days, Norman said he still enjoyed competing on Tour. “I probably get more nervous now as I don’t play that much anymore. When you don’t play that much, things are not that routine.

“It’s a good sign in a lot of way. If you don’t get nervous, then you really don’t care. In my heyday, I’ve always enjoyed being nervous as I play better. I still like to do well but at the same time, I’m a realist. Expectations are a lot different now compared to what they were in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Norman, who was world No.1 for 331 weeks before the Tiger Woods’ era.

Norman said he wasn’t surprised to see golf booming in Asia, especially in China.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth in the game of golf in this country and also in other parts of Asia. It’s huge because of the population.

“You’ve seen the players coming out from here and they are putting their footprints on the global map, whether it’s through invitations to play in the Masters or winning tournaments in Europe,” he said.

China’s Liang, last season’s Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, will be aiming to end the region’s title drought at the BMW Asian Open, sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and China Golf Association.

Since the event’s inauguration in 2001, no Asian player has won the prestigious title.

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