Sport Golf ‘One last time’: Greg Norman dusts off his clubs for a sentimental return to British Open

‘One last time’: Greg Norman dusts off his clubs for a sentimental return to British Open

Two-time open winner Greg Norman's bid to play one last tournament at St Andrews has been rejected out of hand. Photo: AP
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Greg Norman is 67, hasn’t played in a tournament for 13 years and once swore he would never be a “ceremonial” tournament entry with no chance of winning.

But that was then.

The two-time British Open champion now says he is planning to tee it up in golf’s oldest major at St Andrews in July.

“I’m filling out the entry form now,” Norman was quoted saying. “I think I’m going.”

Norman, who famously won the Claret Jug in 1986 and 1993 and tied-for third in 2008 having held the third-round lead at the age of 53, has not played a major since 2009 — missing the cut at The Masters and then the Open.

While he no longer qualifies for automatic entry as a past champion — one of only four Australian winners of the Open — because the guaranteed entry cuts off for past champions at the age of 60, Norman is unlikely to go through qualifying to earn his place but instead is more likely to seek a special exemption as the tournament celebrates its milestone 150th edition.

“It’s the 150th, I’m a past Open champion, I love St Andrews,” Norman said.

“If there’s a moment in time that I would consider going back and teeing off one last time. Maybe this is it.”

Change of heart

It is a far cry for the sentiments Norman shared in the book Aussies At The Open: Australia’s tales and triumphs from 150 years of The Open Championship.

“I’ve people asking me, ‘Why won’t I go play St Andrews this year?’ It’s one of my favourite golf courses in the world and I look at my schedule and go, ‘That would be a pretty cool thing to do’,” he said then.

“Am I really going to go there and play? No.

“I just don’t want to get on the first tee and be that ceremonial golfer. I just don’t want to do that. It’s just not in my DNA. So I just quietly say no to everybody.”

A popular figure with fans during his prime, who drew massive galleries, a Norman return at the home of golf would be a major storyline — with his image tarnished recently by his involvement in setting up a Saudi-backed rebel golf league that has rocked the establishment.

As the spearhead of a breakaway tour funded by Saudi Arabia, Norman has been accused of turning a blind eye to human rights abuses but strongly refutes the claims.

“We are here to play golf, serve fans, grow the game, and give additional opportunities to players,” he has said.

-with AAP