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Australian Story -

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PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT: Monday, 9 September , 2013

GERALD WHATELY, PRESENTER: Hello I’m Gerard Whately from ABC Grandstand and Offsiders. This Australian Story continues the tale of Greg Norman, recognised as one of Australia’s best ever sportsmen. He dominated international golf for nearly two decades in the eighties and nineties, and blazed a trail in converting sporting success into a big business brand. But his approach brought detractors as well as fans - and then there was his headline grabbing personal life. Tonight the story concludes. But first, a quick recap.

Last week.

PETER FITZSIMONS, COLUMNIST: He’d have to be the most brilliant golfer Australia has produced. Ever.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, FRIEND: But he was never embraced in a way that some great golfers are.

CHARLIE HAPPELL, SPORTS WRITER AND PUBLISHER: People thought, sometimes, he was up himself; that his ego was rampant.

LAURA ANDRASSY: We met on an aeroplane. He was coming back from the ‘79 US Open.

GREG NORMAN: And there was Laura standing at the front door I said “I bet I marry her”. Swear to god.

GREG NORMAN: Again, golf was my priority. I went on with life.

ADAM SCOTT, GOLFER: The expectation on him to perform was huge.

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: His destiny was to win 10 major tournaments.

PETER FITZSIMONS, COLUMNIST: If ever there was a man who had the right to shake his fist at the bitter sporting gods it was Greg Norman.

GREG NORMAN: I could have won the slam. And you learn that, okay, expect the unexpected.

‘Driving Greg Norman’ part two begins

GREG NORMAN: I always looked at myself in the mirror, to this day, I still do. And not cleaning your teeth, not you know, you know, brushing your hair and doing, making yourself look good, but actually standing there. If you want to do it bare arsed naked do it bare arsed naked. Stand there and look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself two or three very hard, very pertinent questions to something that you may have screwed up that day. You look at yourself in the eye and you say tell me the truth, what did you do wrong today?

NEWS BROADCASTER: Australian golfer Greg Norman may have missed out on the prestigious US masters three weeks ago but he collected...

GREG NORMAN: Or something you were very proud of.

NEWS BROADCASTER: Norman won the world singles match play, defeating his boyhood idol Jack Nicklaus.

CHARLIE HAPPELL, SPORTS WRITER AND PUBLISHER: Greg Norman, after 1986 was number one in the world golf rankings for 331 weeks, a phenomenal achievement.

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: He’s the biggest star in the game.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Saw him go two up over Mike Clayton.

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: But Greg would come down here to Australia. He played the Queensland Open, West Australian Open, the South Australian Open the Victorian Open. Boy he played them all. So a generation of kids got to see him play, and watch him play.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: The shot of the day belonged to Greg Norman

ADAM SCOTT, GOLFER: So he had a huge influence. I spent hours playing up and down the street with a plastic golf ball and my golf clubs being Greg Norman in tournaments. He was a great role model for young Aussie kids because he was number one in the world.


(Sound of crowd screaming)
SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Can you believe it?

CHARLIE HAPPELL, SPORTS WRITER AND PUBLISHER: And he played absolutely magnificent golf to do it. It was probably his signature moment.

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: It was like this guy’s just playing a round of golf that no-one’s ever seen before. He was just hitting one incredible shot after another.

(Sound of golf ball being hit and applause)
SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Thank you very much.

MERV NORMAN, FATHER: I don’t know how you spell out confidence, but he was confident in his own ability to get up and win. He always has been that way.

(Sound of crowd applause)
GREG NORMAN: You know I just played brilliant golf today. It was one of those days where I really felt like I never hit a shot out of the middle of the club; it was just one of those days. It was perfect, my concentration was perfect.

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: And he goes to the press tent and said, “I was in awe of myself”. How do you say that without coming across like, you know the most conceited bigheaded bloke in the history of golf? But it was one of the greatest rounds ever played.

(US Masters 1995)
SPORTS COMMENTATOR: The shark needed something special and almost conjured the impossible...

CHARLIE HAPPELL, SPORTS WRITER AND PUBLISHER: Greg continued to contend in the US Masters, which was the one tournament he really wanted to win.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: It’s a marvellous touch look at just gathering pace...oh

CHARLIE HAPPELL, SPORTS WRITER AND PUBLISHER: And then we got to 1996 where he arrived at the tournament and began it with an absolute bang. He opened up with the greatest round in a major championship that had ever been made.

ADAM SCOTT, GOLFER: At that point I was 15 or 16 and, and this was the time Greg was going to win. You just knew this was gonna be the year.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: What a stroke. [applause] The greatest start in Masters history.

ADAM SCOTT, GOLFER: You know I pretty much remember the events of the whole week there.

CHARLIE HAPPELL, SPORTS WRITER AND PUBLISHER: Greg Norman began that final round six shots ahead of Nick Faldo. It was considered a foregone conclusion by almost everyone that Greg would win. Nick Faldo however was his arch rival and Faldo was kind of the Darth Vader of the scene.

(Nick Faldo walking onto the green)
SPORTS COMMENTATOR: He’s got a spring in his walk.

GREG NORMAN: The result was in my hands basically. Again there’s more to it than people realise. Um, cos I did have bad back issues that morning and I tried to walk it off but I couldn’t. I told my coach; today’s not going to be easy.

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: Every pro golfer has a gnawing fear of, especially in those tournaments, of what happens if this all goes wrong.

(Greg putting)
SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Three bogeys in a row.

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: It’s the demons of the game, you know, everyone’s got these demons in their head. Faldo played one of the most relentlessly perfect rounds. So he just tightened the screw with every hole.

CHARLIE HAPPELL, SPORTS WRITER AND PUBLISHER: And then on the ninth hole, Greg Norman made his mistake.

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: And he hit it in the water. And then he hit it in the trees at the 13. Going through that round was torture for everyone watching it

(Greg Norman misses the hole)

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: Let alone what it must have been like playing it. I mean, everyone was watching a train wreck here.

ADAM SCOTT, GOLFER: And when he hit it in the water again it was just deflation and you could see it in him. And I was flat out too because I couldn’t believe that this could happen.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: A six shot lead with which he began this day, an ever increasingly distant memory. This one candidly might go down as one of the great final round collapses in major tournament history.

JANIS BISHOP, SISTER: Mum and I cried because he was trying so hard and it was just getting worse and worse, and yeah, it was very sad, very sad.

(Nick Faldo gets the ball into the hole)
SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Been his lifelong quest. Nick Faldo. He got it. Nick Faldo has won the masters for the third time.

GREG NORMAN: There’s only a few of us in this world know what, what’s it like to be there.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: That’s one of the biggest comebacks I have ever experienced, ever.

GREG NORMAN: Nick knew I was going to come under a lot of scrutiny. And you know, he felt for me and you know, when he gave me that hug and said ‘hey Greg you know, don’t let these bastards get to you’, you know it mean a lot to me.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: What a great moment.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, FRIEND: I watched it all on television. And his heart has to be broken but there he is. He handled it with such dignity and humility, and real generosity of spirit.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: I tell you one thing you go to the dictionary and you look up the word ‘class’ and you’ll see a picture of Greg Norman, no question.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, FRIEND: I think it was a magic moment for him, I know it’s terrible, I know he’d like to do it again and win the Masters and have that, but he opened so many people’s minds and hearts to him because of the way he handled that.

GREG NORMAN: Things just didn’t go my way and Nick played a great round, he played very solid and very steady and it was all my mistakes.

GREG NORMAN: I disappeared down to the beach after the US Masters I laid on the beach and cried because I felt like I’d completely screwed up winning a tournament that I wanted to win. So that would be about the only time that I would have brought the emotion of a golf tournament back home.

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: He never, he never won a major after that and you wonder what happens to a man’s psyche when that happens. But only Greg could tell you, if he was honest, truly, how that - what that did to him.

PETER FITZSIMONS, COLUMNIST: I think he won 86 PGA events and only two majors, and that will be the thing that in a way that he’s remembered for. He’s a guy that had the talent to win 10 majors or 14 majors. Somehow or other he never fulfilled his sporting potential.

GREG NORMAN: I really don’t go back and relive you know, good or bad, because the next step in life is your first step in life, so you just got to keep advancing forward.

(Sydney, 1996)

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, FRIEND: I wound up you know going to Australia after my 96 election.

GREG NORMAN: His White House gives me a call saying would you be in Australia at the time cause he’d love to play golf with you? And I went oh look, I, okay, let me think about it, I’ll check my schedule. Well, I didn’t want to play with him because I’m not a Democrat. So I called up President Bush 41 and he said “Greg, let me give you a piece of advice”. He said “always respect the position of the President of the United States, no matter how you feel”. I got the message loud and clear, right. So I called the White House up and I said, yes I’ll I’d love to play with President, it would be an honour, blah blah blah.

(President Bill Clinton on the golf course)
VOX POP: Are you nervous Mr President?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, FRIEND: I got to the golf course and I just went up on the first tee and promptly duck-hooked the first ball out of bounds. And he said you have a choice to make I said [laugh] what is this? He said if you want to shoot your best score, just play your game, I’ll play mine, we’ll have a good time. Or I’ll give you an 18 hole clinic. I said, I’ll take the clinic.

GREG NORMAN: So we just keep going and we start talking and I really start to embrace this guy, you know?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, FRIEND: He gave me advice about how to play the shot, what my grip was doing right or wrong and it was an amazing day.

(Florida, US)

GREG NORMAN: I wanted him to come down and play my member guest at the golf club that I’d built in Florida. And he flies in the helicopter and we sat down in the house and we chatted. He didn’t drink alcohol. You know, a lot of people speculated that he was drunk, Monica Lewinsky was not there, I didn’t fly her in like everybody thought I did at the time.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, FRIEND: And we had a great time in his home and um, I was leaving and there were all these steps and I didn’t see the last step.

GREG NORMAN: It was pretty late, after one, one-thirty, something like that. And he just fell. I caught him and I couldn’t move because of my knee was folded back under for quite a while. And I wasn’t gonna move. But it’s the President of the United States, right? And when he does go down and they do take him away from your house in an ambulance it’s a bit of a, it’s a bit of a gut check [laughing] you know. I was with the president in Palm Springs last year and we joke about it in private, we laugh about it 'cause people still bring it up.

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: By the late 90s he was not the best player in the world anymore, and clearly he placed a big importance on the next part of his life, which was business.

BART COLLINS, BUSINESS MANAGER: Use one word to describe Greg, it’s driven. Greg really had the ability to dominate whatever he set his mind to. A lot of athletes will look at you know an endorsement arrangement with a company. Greg is very different.

MIKE CLAYTON, GOLFER AND GOLF WRITER: He was the first guy to figure out that he could make more money himself by doing it his own way and completely being in control of his business.

GREG NORMAN: My nickname was the Great White Shark. I had a brand, then, I had a logo. So I decided to go out on my own, capitalise my own venture going forward, bring people in and trust my vision.

JACK NICKLAUS, US GOLFER: I think Greg has been very fortunate to surround himself with some very good people. He’s had some very good advice from some very high level folks, and he’s been smart enough to take that advice.

CHARLIE HAPPELL, SPORTS WRITER AND PUBLISHER: He set up a company that produced and sold all manner of products. They designed golf courses and also housing developments around golf courses. They had a range of clothing and apparel. I think he even tried a pasta sauce. And Norman’s personal worth is now said to be in the hundreds of millions on the back of this company that he’s really got going himself.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, FRIEND: I’ve watched him over these last several years develop other interests, get more interested, for example, in charitable work.

DR RICHARD ANDRASSY, FORMER BROTHER -IN-LAW: I have been a surgeon for about 40 years and take care of children with cancer and operate for a living. Greg came to visit the hospital and he became committed to children’s research for cancer. So they started the Laura and Greg Norman Fellowship in Paediatric Oncology.

JANIS BISHOP, SISTER: Jimmy and I were in the States in 2005, saw Greg and Laura there and everything seemed fine. Mum and Dad had Christmas there that same year and they saw the cracks coming. I think it was the middle of 2006 that they called it quits.

GREG NORMAN: Divorce is a hard thing to swallow because at the end of the day if the chemistry’s gone and the communication’s gone, life is, you know, you try and work on it, we went to marriage counselling and everything like that.

MORGAN-LEIGH NORMAN, DAUGHTER: We have all just had to deal with it and because we’re such a close family, we’ve all supported each other and moved through it and it’s one of those things that, it’s an easy thing to get through, but we get through it.

DR RICHARD ANDRASSY, FORMER BROTHER -IN-LAW: I certainly had to be supportive of my sister. However Greg and I were friends and I consider him a friend to this day. But I felt like under the circumstances that it was better that I wouldn’t be on the Norman charitable foundation board.

NEWS REPORTER: Just this week came speculation of a romantic link with former tennis great, Chris Evert.

(Greg issuing a public statement)
ANNOUNCER: Greg Norman, Ladies and Gentlemen, please. Greg Norman.
GREG NORMAN [talking to the press]: I just want to say Chris Evert and I very close friends and we’ll leave it at that OK.

GREG NORMAN: I remember meeting Chrissie in the late 70s. And she never remembered it, but I remember it because you know that’s Chris Evert, she wins everything. But never saw each other. She presented me an award at the BBC athlete of the Year. You meet each other at these functions and you go bump through life right.

NEWS REPORTER 1: You only need to spend a minute with Greg Norman and his new wife Chris Evert, to get the message they’re completely besotted with each other.

(Greg and Chris on private jet)
CHRIS EVERT, WIFE: We both have foot fetishes.

PETER FITZSIMONS, COLUMNIST: The whole issue of Chrissie Evert, don’t know, none of my business but, he was sports answer to Tom Cruise with Oprah Winfrey jumping up and down on the couch.

JANIS BISHOP, SISTER: Well I was excited because she was a hero of mine and when I’d met her I thought I found her very pleasant and charming. The wedding was beautiful. No expense was spared, none. It was, yeah it was really good, really good. But it was doomed. My husband Jimmy said when we were at the wedding, ‘I’ll give it two years’.

ANDREW FOX, FRIEND: Greg loves to be in the driving seat, and I think in the relationship that he had with Chris; he wasn’t in that driver’s seat.

SPORTS REPORTER: Could one of the sporting stories of the year be unfolding at the British Open.

SPORTS REPORTER 1: Greg Norman bids to become the oldest man to win a golf major.

SPORTS REPORTER 2: This is a bloke out to impress his new wife. And boy, is he doing a good job of it Barry.

JANIS BISHOP, SISTER: She wanted him back playing golf. I still think he enjoyed it because, Greg won’t do anything unless he wants to do it. But she was the driving force behind it. She liked that limelight too, I think.

SPORTS REPORTER 3: By the second green, Norman’s lead was gone.


60 MINUTE INTERVIEWER: Does a hundred million dollars replace a marriage and a future?
LAURA ANDRASSY, FIRST WIFE: Absolutely not. I never cared about the money. All that money did not heal my heart.

ANDREW FOX, FRIEND: Any separation in a marriage is never nice, and I think he and Laura, and I’m not saying who’s right and who’s wrong. But the moment you put your dirty laundry out in public, it’s going to get messy.

GREG NORMAN: I went through pain, I hurt like heck, because a lot of things said about me that really hurt me, and hurt my brand and hurt my positioning in life.

(60 Minutes, Channel 9 -2009 - Chris and Greg interviewed)
CHRIS EVERT: You know, there are very few things in life you can control and you can’t control full blown falling in love.

ANDREW FOX, FRIEND: Love is blind in so many way, but I think Chris Evert was a very interesting chapter in Greg’s life. I think if he had the opportunity to start all over again would he ever go back down that same path and my response would be absolutely not.

GREG NORMAN: Her personality was driven to be a great tennis player since she was knee high to a grasshopper, and the kind, of my personality was a little bit different, so you you knew at some juncture that it probably wasn’t going to work out.

JANIS BISHOP, SISTER: There was no warmth with Chrissie. She just didn’t try to, um, embrace us as a family. So when he rang me and said ‘Sis, guess what? Chrissie and I are split’, I jumped around the house going ‘Alleluia’. It was, that was one of the happiest days of my life. But it didn’t last two years, it lasted eighteen months, and Jimmy won all the bets.

NEWS REPORTER: Chris Evert has spoken for the first time about her split with Greg Norman, saying she had no idea it was coming.

BART COLLINS: It was unexpected for a lot of Australians to kind of see Greg in the tabloids, and so I think it was a wakeup call for not only the Australian public but Greg. It was tough on him personally and I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say it wasn’t you know it didn’t have some effect.

GREGORY NORMAN JNR, SON: Our family is in the public eye and he was number one in the world and whoever is in that position has going to have the spotlight on him for the good and the bad, and for the bad, usually the spotlight is even brighter, unfortunately.

KIRSTEN ‘KIKI’ NORMAN, WIFE: In terms of the media, let’s put it this way, he’s spent a lifetime pulling knives out of his back so, you know, people have been incredibly critical and very judgemental.

ANDREW FOX, FRIEND: Kiki just lit up his life, and I knew something happened because he went into lockdown mode. Now when Greg goes into lockdown mode, someone’s got to be pretty special.

KIRSTEN ‘KIKI’ NORMAN, WIFE: One thing that I absolutely love is the fact that he has a wicked, dirty Australian sense of humour, which cracks me up daily.

JANIS BISHOP, SISTER: We were guarded at first, but then when I first saw them together it was, you know, ‘Wow’. You could see the love. They’re blissfully, so just very happy, very happy.

GREG NORMAN: I can’t imagine my life being single. When you have the right partner, it’s very easy; it really is very, very easy.

KIRSTEN ‘KIKI’ NORMAN, WIFE: We have a really balanced relationship and I’d have to say that neither one of us wears the pants.

(Great Keppel Island, Qld. April)
GREG NORMAN [talking to press]: I encourage you guys to come see how my design team will bring this back to life...

JANIS BISHOP, SISTER: I don’t think Greg would ever care if he played golf again. Since he’s given up golf, he’s been able to focus a hundred per cent on the business and I think he’s getting as much enjoyment out of succeeding businesswise as what he did playing golf.

GREG NORMAN: I’ve been very extremely lucky, you know, that I had a god-given talent just to hit a golf ball and I had a passion to hit it, and it’s just taken me into this direction where I am today from going off the golf course into business to be that ‘living brand’. I never want to get to the top, there’s always plenty to achieve.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, FRIEND: I’ve watched him, round the edges off his famous personality and still be for me endlessly interesting and fun to be around. He seems to have been able to enjoy every phase and to keep growing into the next phase, growing into the next phase, that’s something we all have to work on.

TOF SUPER: US Masters. April

CHARLIE HAPPELL, SPORTS WRITER AND PUBLISHER: Greg has been a mentor for young Australian players all through his career. In fact, he’s made it his business to take them under his wing.

ADAM SCOTT, GOLFER: And he was always supportive and encouraging when I was struggling. And he was even very public with that support

GREG NORMAN: I’m proud of him as an Australian.

(Adam putting)

GREG NORMAN: He’s gonna be the next superstar.

CHARLIE HAPPELL, SPORTS WRITER AND PUBLISHER: Well, the Masters is an event that’s been going 77 years and no Australian has won it. This year’s tournament almost miraculously there were three Australians in contention. Marc Leishman, Jason Day and Adam Scott

GREG NORMAN: I said to myself, boy, wouldn't this be ironic. Australia never won the Masters before, so you know I was very into it right, and very emotionally tied up.

MARC LEISHMAN, GOLFER: It was unbelievable having all three of us in contention.

NEWS REPORTER: Marc Leishman was the first to falter.
SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Did he get it all? No he didn’t.

MARC LEISHMAN: Obviously we all wanted to win badly, but I think it was good that we were all there and had a chance.

NEWS REPORTER: Jason Day surged to the outright lead, then the weight of Augusta struck.
SPORTS COMMENTATOR: And he miss-hit it.

JASON DAY, GOLFER: I actually received a text from Greg after the round and he goes, I know you’re disappointed and I know it’s not the way you wanted to finish, but keep your head up and keep doing what you’re doing cos it’s close.

(Adam Scott making his shot)
SPORTS COMMENTATOR: And also sparked a roar in Australia.
(Crowd applause)

CHARLIE HAPPELL, SPORTS WRITER AND PUBLISHER: And that left Adam Scott as kind of the last man standing.

KIRSTEN ‘KIKI’ NORMAN, WIFE: Greg’s phone was going crazy with phone calls from Australia, so Greg was drinking beer; he was watching the TV, getting more and more nervous.

(Crowd yelling)
SPORTS COMMENTATOR: There was, Adam Scott, a life changer.

GREGORY NORMAN JNR, SON: We were so nervous for him if he was going to make that putt or not. And when he made it, I think we both just dropped everything and cheered and hugged and embraced and it was a pretty emotional moment.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: 32 year old Adam Scott.

KIRSTEN ‘KIKI’ NORMAN, WIFE: Greg just basically fell to the floor when he won. He was in tears. He was just so excited.

(Adam Scott in an interview on Channel Ten)
ADAM SCOTT, GOLFER: There was one guy who inspired a nation of golfers and that’s Greg Norman, and he’s been incredible to me and all the young golfers in Australia and part of this definitely belongs to him.

GREG NORMAN: He gave that tribute to me, of course there was a tear in my eye and my son gave me a big bear hug, and Kiki my wife gave me a big hug and said you know this is this is what it's all about for you.

GREGORY NORMAN JNR, SON: It shows a lot about the integrity, who Adam really is, to be able to in his moment of glory take a step back and acknowledge who really paved the way for him to go there.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: From down-under to on top of the world Jim.

ADAM SCOTT, GOLFER: I think there’s genuine happiness for me, even though he never got to win. Hopefully my win really can satisfy him as well, that all the work and effort he’s put into me is something that can take out of.

JANIS BISHOP, SISTER: What’s important to him now is having a happy family with Kiki and, and the girls. Just cruising through life now.

GREG NORMAN: I really love being a, a stepdad. I, I love the fact that, Kiki’s girls have embraced living in Florida. I ask them questions ‘How was your day at school?’, ‘What was the best thing you learnt today?’, ‘What was the worst thing you learnt today?’.

KIRSTEN ‘KIKI’ NORMAN, WIFE: He missed out on a lot of his children’s childhood which he will say very openly that he regrets, and he’s reliving that with my kids and you know he’s a very good mentor and he’s incredibly patient with them, and he has so much to teach them. We’re just really fortunate it works very well, everyone gets along really, really well. It’s easy.

JANIS BISHOP, SISTER: No more drama, we’re all sick of the drama. There’s only a couple of years of it but it was, it was enough to last a few people’s lifetimes, no more drama. Happy days, from here on in.

Laura Andrassy declined to comment for the program.

Chris Evert said in a statement that "No comment is necessary- Greg and I are fine with each other; we've moved on..."

Janis Bishop says Greg Norman regularly visits family in Queensland and she believes he'll return to Australia to live 'down the track'.