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Norman planning to take extended break

Greg Norman plans to take a three-month break from the game after his Shark Shootout tournament in November in a bid to regain confidence in his putting.

The two time Open champion tied for 53rd in the U.S. PGA Championship at Hazeltine on Sunday after crashing to a final-round 80 and has pinpointed his lackluster performance on the greens as the root of his problem.

“It’s frustrating,” the 47-year-old Australian said on his official website.

“I played well the first three rounds, despite not making many putts, then I closed with an 80.

“I’ve got no confidence in my putting at the moment, and it’s eating right through the whole game.”

Norman, who won his first British Open at Turnberry in 1986 and a second title at Royal St George’s in 1993, is in the field for this week’s WGC-NEC Invitational at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash.

He has entered the European Tour’s BMW International Open in Germany the following week and will make his final competitive appearance of the year at the Shark Shootout in Naples, Florida from Nov. 18-24.

“I’ve got no energy for this game right now and that’s sad because it’s all coming from my putting,” said the man popularly known as the Great White Shark.

“But I’m not going to get any help for it. In fact, I’m not thinking about it at all.
“After the Shootout in November, I won’t play again on the (U.S.) tour until Doral (the Genuity Championship) next March. Between now and March, something will turn around in my putting.”

The former No. 1 player in the world, who last won on the U.S. Tour in 1997 with victories in the St. Jude Classic and the World Series of Golf, said he would be focusing on golf course design for the next few months.

“I’ll be working on golf courses overseas and in the (United) States. Maybe that’s exactly what I need to do — get away from the game.

“I just don’t think golf is my game at the moment.”

Despite his current putting woes, Norman has enjoyed some of his best form for some time during the 2002 season.

He tied for 18th — just four strokes behind winner Ernie Els — at last month’s British Open following scores of 71, 72, 71 and 68 and shared fourth place in the U.S. Tour’s The International two weeks ago.

Having plummeted to 113th in the official world rankings at the end of last year, Norman has managed to climb back into the world’s top 100 this season.

He may be struggling with his putter at the moment but he has also produced an enviable scoring average of 70.67 on the 2002 U.S. Tour.

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