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Norman wants Australian tour tied to others

THE PGA Tour Australasia should become a six-week sweep through Australia co-sanctioned with the European Tour, says to Greg Norman.

"The events should be co-ordinated between South Africa and ourselves and then up to Europe," he said.

That way, he said, all the top South Africans like Ernie Els and Nick Price (Zimbabwe) would play here "and some of the top Americans, too".

"Australia should focus on six or seven prime tournaments – a certain number of quality events with purses of $2 million," he said.

Three events are already co-sanctioned – the Johnnie Walker Classic in Taiwan, the Heineken Classic in Perth and, for the first time, Norman's event this week at The Lakes.

Like most of us, Greg Norman has sat back and watched over-zealous parents retard, hamper and sometimes slaughter the promising sporting careers of their children.

But Norman does not believe he has seen a parent ruin any young professional golfer's career with "kindness". "It almost goes to the morals and ethics and the integrity of the game of golf," he said.

"Whether you are a pro or whether you are a father, that integrity is maintained."

Jack Nicklaus always maintains the best way to strike a balance is to have youngsters who want to make a career in golf team sports as well at least until they are 15 or 16.

Norman said rising young Australian golf talent Aaron Baddeley had a minefield ahead of him – "not all of it bad" – over the next few years.

"But his father, Ron, has been very good," he said.

Some parents of young golfers have been accused of allowing their children to turn professional too early.

Justin Rose was just 17 when he did it after the British Open at Royal Birkdale and then proceeded to miss numerous cuts and failed to gain his tour card.

He has since regained his card at the qualifying school and seems to be back on track.

And the skeptics raise their eyebrows after Sergio Garcia, 19, turned professional after the US Masters last year and then had to be comforted by his mother after shooting 89 in the first round of the British Open at Carnoustie. But the young Spaniard does not seem to have taken any real harm so far. He certainly bounced back with a vengeance with a bold performance in the US PGA not more than a month later.

The father of Australia's wunderkind Aaron Baddeley said after his son won the Australian Open at Royal Sydney that he felt sorry for Justin Rose, a remark which drew and acerbic response from the Rose camp.

The Baddeleys are following the Garcia path, playing as many tournaments alongside the professionals as they can while still retaining amateur status.

And one could hardly say that Earl Woods, a former green beret in the Marines, did not put Tiger through an arduous regime from an early age. He had Tiger watching him swing golf clubs when he was only two and still in the portacot in the garage.

Norman praised the manner in which Tiger Woods and his father have taken golf to minorities in the US.

"Go to the inner city kids like Tiger and his dad have done . . . and promote the game," he said. "That is a parent going in the right direction. No matter what sport you play, that's the way it should be."


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