Norman Flashback

If you are wondering why Greg Norman is so interested in opening the PGA Tour's books, a bit of the dreaded backstory might be worth re-reading.

Here's Norman talking to Bob Verdi in the April, 2002 Golf Digest:

You went across the grain in 1994 with an idea for a world tour for the best players -- an addition to the PGA Tour -- and it blew up in your face.

Each event was to be for $3 million, for the top 40 players in the world. Start with eight events a year, building to 12 down the line. We had an agreement with Rupert Murdoch of the Fox Network for $120 million. That's what turned the sirens on at PGA Tour headquarters. That caught their attention. How did they do that? Why can't we do that? They still haven't figured it out.

Arnold Palmer and [PGA Tour Commissioner] Tim Finchem came to the Shark Shootout in 1994, my own event, to talk to the guys about this evil concept of mine. I was done. I listened to the whole spiel, sitting in the boardroom of Sherwood Country Club, and I was feeling worse and worse.

Their spin was that it was my deal, about me and for me. But we had agreed to subsidize the [PGA Tour] events we were up against. If a world-tour event went against, say, the Milwaukee Open, we would subsidize the Milwaukee Open. "You can't do that," I was told. Well, what have they got now but their own world-tour events? And what are they doing for tournaments up against them but subsidizing them?

Apparently, my bad idea wasn't such a bad idea. And as our president [of Great White Shark Enterprises], Bart Collins, says, all these other golf federations from other countries march to whatever the PGA Tour wants, like puppets.

But when you were inducted into the Hall of Fame last November, Finchem credited you with the vision for the world-golf concept.

It was sad. I wish he had never said that. Cut a guy's legs off, then give him a pair of shoes.

What took so long? In 1994, I was tarnished tremendously, being branded as someone who was trying to hurt the game of golf. It couldn't have been too strong a PGA Tour if one guy could destroy it. But Finchem knew he couldn't control it. It was all about control. So it was portrayed as a money-making scheme for Greg Norman.

I was devastated. I was angry, really angry. I didn't care about golf, and I was angry at my peers, who hung me out to dry. They said they would support the idea. But where were they? Slay the dreamer. I was alone on an island. I was the Bird Man of Alcatraz. I was a maverick.

Then, last November, Finchem says this about me at the induction. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. We were all sitting up there. I looked at Laura and Bart, and we were all amazed. What the hell was that all about? Thanks, but no thanks for the pardon.

I still haven't forgotten what he did to me, and I never will. Never, ever will I forgive Tim Finchem, and he can induct me into a Hall of Fame once a week.

What about the proposed idea of a players' union?

I took an interest in it, but I told them [the organizers] it was best for them if I wasn't on their roster. I never joined.

I could do them more harm than good, given my reputation. The PGA Tour propaganda machine did a masterful job of sweeping that under the rug, too.

But why don't we have an association as players? I've talked to Phil [Mickelson] about this. He's got a lot on the ball. But a lot of guys are content, making a handsome living. They're nonconfrontational. I'm for thinking outside the box.

And here is Norman a year ago, again talking to Verdi:

Norman is asked whether he would consider spending part of the rest of his life as commissioner of the PGA Tour.

After all, incumbent Tim Finchem, whose administration Norman frequently disparages, will retire eventually, presumably creating a vacancy for someone who has done it all--like winning 88 tournaments worldwide, presiding over a robust corporation, and rubbing elbows with business, political and entertainment icons. All while managing to remain a doting husband and father, whether at home or on a 228-foot yacht that was sold last year to Wayne Huizenga for the ungodly sum of ...

"Sorry, no financial figures," says Norman, chuckling. "Now, PGA Tour commissioner. Have I thought about it? Absolutely. Of course, have I also thought about becoming president of the United States? Yes." But there is no rule against an Australian-born multimultimillionaire becoming boss of golf's biggest league. "I understand," Norman says, "though I'd bring a completely different mind-set to what exists on the PGA Tour."

He cites a top-heavy organization that encourages a pack mentality resulting in a "quagmire" (his word). "I would love to know what really happens on the inside of the tour," Norman says, "but to do that, I would have to give up what I have here, and also give up playing, which I still love."

I guess this means we won't be seeing more of Greg on the Champions Tour?