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‘Maybe Tiger just dislikes me’: The history between Woods and Greg Norman

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Greg has to go.

Tiger Woods’ comments, made Tuesday morning in the Bahamas, came as no surprise. Woods, an 82-time PGA Tour winner, is a strong supporter of the PGA Tour due to his ongoing battle with LIV Golf. But when he called for the removal of Saudi-backed league CEO Greg Norman as a precondition for any peace talks between the squabbling tours, it was something more.

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After all, Woods and Norman have a rich history.

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They first met when Woods was 15, and he and Norman played golf together at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida. Norman is also believed to have been an influence on Woods, who worked with instructor Butch Harmon. Woods and Norman later played practice rounds together at the Masters in 1995 and 1996.

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In many ways, a friendship of sorts has formed between the two players, who are 21 years old. But whatever the connection, in the second half of 1996 it was severed.

In September of that year, Woods included the Norman’s Shark Shootout in the remainder of his playing schedule, but tournament officials quickly reacted, stating that Woods had not yet been invited. When the official invitation arrived, Woods turned it down, opting instead to compete the following week in the Australian Open, which also featured Norman.

Woods fired 79 to open the first start at Down Under and ended up in fifth place. Norman then told reporters, “We are playing on very difficult fields here. He was shocked when he scored 79. Maybe he will appreciate why Aussies play so well when they leave home.”

Two years later, at the 1998 Presidents’ Cup, Woods asked to play Norman in singles.

“I wanted to play against him,” Woods recalled. “Jack [Nicklaus] and Peter [Thomson] talked about what pairs would be good for the tournament. We got eliminated and it was one of the key matches that I felt I could handle and play and I felt I could earn a point for our American team.”

Although the American side lost by nine points, Woods still got the better of Norman, who was 1 behind.

The two also met in 2011, with Woods back as a player and Norman as national team captain. On the eve of the Presidents’ Cup, Norman went on record saying that he would not have chosen Woods as the representative of the American team if he had been in the place of Fred Par.

Woods: Greg (Norman) has to go first

Woods: Greg (Norman) has to go first

“I can understand the name Tiger Woods and his history of what he did on the golf course,” Norman said. “But I pick guys who I think are ready to get down to business and play and who have played at the highest level before.”

That same year, Woods earned a defining moment at Royal Melbourne.

Norman isn’t shy about giving his opinion on Woods, especially when it comes to major championships. On several occasions over the past decade or so, Norman, a two-time major tournament winner, has stated that Woods will not win another major tournament due to personal scandal and injury.

“Tiger, when he dominated, used a one-punch approach,” Norman said in 2011, when Woods was still stuck in 14 majors, having not won one since the 2008 US Open. “It was only about golf. Now there are so many distractions and people are looking for things that are not okay with Tiger, so he has to deal with it day in and day out just like any other mortal, right? In our lives, in our business, we all need to be held accountable for our actions. It is very difficult for him to concentrate. And the more he shuts people out, the worse it gets.”

Norman then added in 2015: “He will win again. He will win other tour tournaments. But the major? I don’t see it.”

Woods, of course, orchestrated one of the best comebacks in the sport by winning the 2019 Masters, a win that led to one of the greatest Woods-Norman stories of all time.

In a 2019 interview with Men’s Health, Norman told the story of how he hand-wrote a congratulatory letter to Woods after Woods’ landmark Augusta National victory and then delivered it himself to Woods’ home in Jupiter, Florida. Norman never got a response.

Here he tells it:

“Very few people know about it: when Tiger won the Masters this year, I wrote him a handwritten note and drove down my road for maybe a quarter of a mile and personally handed it to his guard at his gate. I said, “Hi, this is Greg Norman. I have a note for Tiger. Could you give it to him personally? Well, I never heard a word back from that guy. When I won my first major championship, Jack Nicklaus was the first to come down from the TV tower and congratulate me. I don’t know, maybe the Tiger just doesn’t like me. I have no idea. I never talked to him about it.”

Where are Woods and Norman now?

Well, Woods’ rejection of Norman and LIV Golf’s “somewhere in the neighborhood,” according to Norman, $700 million to $800 million this year offer should tell us everything we need to know.


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