MELBOURNE, Australia - One of the most successful personalities in golf, on and off the course, has now lost the Presidents Cup twice as captain of the International side.
Greg Norman, never one to mince words, had criticized his counterpart Fred Couples for making Tiger Woods a captain’s pick, then watched at Royal Melbourne as one of his, Robert Allenby, failed to win a point in yet another losing cause for the Internationals.
But Norman said he has no regrets. He was his usual upbeat self Sunday after the 19-15 loss to the Americans, and said that although he won’t be back as captain in 2013, he might be an assistant if asked.
“That’s going to be totally up to the captain,” Norman said when asked if he’d be helping out the International team in two years at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio. “If coming back or getting an invitation to be involved again in the future, obviously I would very much consider that, no question about it.”
The Presidents Cup, which pits the U.S. against teams from non-European countries, has always taken a back seat to the Ryder Cup. And the United States has dominated nine Presidents Cup tournaments since 1994, winning seven times, losing once—at Royal Melbourne in 1998—and tying in South Africa in 2003.
Norman said Sunday he’d like to see changes that would give the host country a say in the format.
“I made a couple of suggestions already to the powers that be back in Jacksonville (Florida, the U.S. PGA headquarters) to make the Presidents Cup a little bit better from my team’s perspective, which is a really important thing,” he said.
Norman said he’d like to see the foursomes (alternate-shot) matches reduced, as that’s where the Internationals have been traditionally poor because the Americans play that format every year—in Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup.
“We do get our cage rattled a little bit in the foursomes,” Norman said. “So maybe that just gets our confidence level off. What’s wrong with the host nation of having the choice of the format anyway? Any golf tournament has got to be fine-tuned every year.”
Couples agreed that his American side has an advantage there.
“We have an advantage by playing alternate shot, I couldn’t argue that more,” Couples said. “Greg’s guys very rarely do it.”
Making his swansong as captain, Norman looked like he loved what he was doing Sunday.
As the International side staged an early comeback attempt, winning the first four singles matches to pull close for a while, Norman donned one of the green caps worn by the Australian Fanatics cheerleading squad.
When South Korean player K.T. Kim won his match 1-up over Webb Simpson, Norman was the first person to give him a big hug on the 18th at Royal Melbourne, all part of his mentoring of the younger players, some of whom grew up idolizing the Great White Shark.
In the weeks before the event, the five Australian players on the team— Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddley, Jason Day and Allenby—spoke of their desire to win the Presidents Cup because of the effect Norman had on their careers. In Scott’s case, it was the sole reason he gave up other sports to take up golf.
“Put it this way, I’ve talked to him about more things than I’ve talked to my father,” Allenby said. Scott called Norman the Australian equivalent of what Arnold Palmer did for golf in the United States.
“I just wanted to show everybody that we do have it,” Norman said Sunday of his International team.
“We have to make sure we capitalize on that. Just because we lost doesn’t mean to say we didn’t win. At the end of the day, we have to make the Presidents Cup a better event for it.”