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Golf needs better management says Norman

Technology, money and Tiger Woods are hurting professional golf, according to two-time British Open winner Greg Norman.

Norman, who is playing in this week's Spanish Senior Open, said golf would be in major trouble if the PGA Tour does not manage the sport more carefully.

"With fewer and fewer people watching golf in America, the sport has become stagnant," Norman said.

Some PGA Tour events this year reportedly experienced significant falls in their domestic television viewing figures from 2005. For example, viewing for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in January fell 56 percent, the season-opening Mercedes Championships fell 50 percent and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February dropped 37.5 percent.

Some analysts have said that Woods being in contention for a tournament is a major factor in television ratings, such as the 22 percent viewer increase in August for the final round of his PGA Championship victory, but ratings when he successfully defended his title at Doral in February were still off by 16 percent.

An increase in prize and sponsorship money has put more pressure on players and tournament organizers, Norman said, and that is taking away from the excitement that players such as Lee Trevino and Seve Ballesteros used to create in the 1970s and '80s.

"Players need to bring the spirit back," Norman said. "There have always been great players to bring people to the game to lighten it up, so that it's not so serious.

"Look at what [Rafael] Nadal has done for tennis because of the way he is, like a boxer. You never hear anyone coming out and saying I want to beat Tiger Woods -- I haven't heard that," he added. "Nadal comes out and says he wants to beat Roger Federer because he's No.1 and that's great for tennis."

Norman, who has played little golf -- and watched even less -- since making his senior tour debut last year, also said the technology used in making golf clubs should be reserved for amateurs only.

"I have a problem with someone winning a golf tournament without using a driver," he said. "The game has always been dominated by power-hitters, but today you can't tell the difference between the players because of the technology."

Norman said he only watched this year's Ryder Cup after his daughter, who is dating Spain's Sergio Garcia, urged him to do so.

"It came down to great teamwork. European players play together, eat together, fly on private jets together and that's for an entire two years, not just for the Ryder Cup, so there's more camaraderie," Norman said. "The Americans are trying to do that now, and I think they're doing better, but they're still not there."

October 12, 2006




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