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Hip surgery rules Greg Norman out of Open

Greg Norman at the US Open, his last tournament before surgery. Allsport.

Two-time British Open winner Greg Norman is scheduled to undergo hip surgery this week and will miss next month's championship at St Andrews, he announced on Tuesday.

Norman revealed he would undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right hip on Wednesday and would be out of action for seven weeks. The Australian hopes to return to competition in time for the year's final major -- the PGA Championship in August.

"It is a major disappointment not to play in the 2000 (British) Open Championship at St. Andrews," the former world number one said in a written statement.

"However, on the advise of (my doctors), it was abundantly clear that having the surgery now rather than waiting until after the Open is in the best interests of my game."

Norman, 45, insists that his days of playing world class golf are not numbered. But this latest procedure, coming barely two years after he had major shoulder surgery, raises the question of whether his best days are behind him.

"I will aggressively rehabilitate this injury, just as I did my shoulder," Norman said. "This is only a slight delay and will not divert, but instead will enhance my focus on the primary objective, and that is winning golf tournaments.

"I am very confident my recovery will be complete and will offer me unrestricted mobility," he said.

Dr. Marc Philippon, a leading hip arthroscopist, will perform the procedure at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, not far from where Norman lives.

The procedure, to repair a torn labrum, may also call for a thermal tightening of the hip capsule to enhance the joint's stability.

Dr. Philippon described the injury as athletic, not degenerative, and said it is an injury that can be suffered by athletes of all ages.

Dr. Richard Hawkins of the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colorado, who performed an arthroscopic procedure on Norman's shoulder in April of 1998, will assist Dr. Philippon.

The injury has apparently hampered Norman for several years and has caused increased discomfort for him in recent months.

When aggravated it prohibits a full hip turn, which has periodically affected his performance for the past few years.

"This is one of those injuries that can be treated conservatively for some athletes, but requires surgical intervention for one to return to the highest level of competition," explained Dr. Philippon.

"This arthroscopic procedure has a high success rate and should allow Greg to return to top form in a relatively short period of time."

Dr. Philippon said that once he views the injury, he may utilize a temperature-controlled heat probe to enhance Norman's hip stability.

Since resuming competition 20 months ago following his shoulder surgery, Norman has only sporadically recaptured his previous brilliance.

He has not won a tournament, although he has come close several times. He finished third at last year's Masters, and only three strokes out of a playoff at the British Open.

In the majors this year, Norman finished 11th at the Masters, before missing the cut by a mile at the U.S. Open, although that performance may have been hindered by his hip complaint.


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