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Greg Norman makes senior debut

Greg Norman figures he could have just retired and rested his bad back. Instead, he's making his debut this week on the Seniors Tour.

The 50-year-old Australian, winner of the British Open in 1986 and 1993, is playing in the $1.72 million Senior British Open at the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.

Norman said he considered retirement after withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic in March on the morning of the opening round. He had surgery to fix nerve damage in his back on March 22.

Norman played in last week's British Open at St. Andrews, finishing in a tie for 60th.

``I could have walked away from the game,'' Norman said Wednesday. ``I thought about it. When I don't play golf, my back doesn't hurt. But it's about the love of the game.''

Norman said he felt better every day at St. Andrews.

``That was encouraging for me,'' he said. ``It was the first time in the last five or seven years that I could actually wind up on a golf ball and really hit it hard. And I did that. I hit a lot of drives a long distance for a guy who just had back surgery.''

Now Norman is hoping for his first win on the Seniors Tour.

``I'm keeping my expectations down low because I haven't been there in such a long time,'' he said. ``Really it's only my second tournament that I'm going to play in almost 12 months.

``I would love to come out and start the senior tour like I did with my regular tour career, winning the third tournament that I ever played in. But I'm going to be come back to the Senior British Open for many more years so there will be plenty of other opportunities.''

Pete Oakley beat Tom Kite and Eduardo Romero by a shot in the Senior British Open last year at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. They're all back this year, along with Tom Watson, Gary Player, Sam Torrance and Mark McNulty.


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