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Golf Today 15th December 1999
Norman slams critics of Australian Tour
Rankin awarded Patty Berg Award
World rankings boost for minor tours
Nicklaus fit again, looking to expand schedule

Norman slams critics of Australian Tour

Greg Norman bristles with rage at suggestions Australia's leading golfers have abandoned the local tour and he wishes the issue would "just drop dead and go away".

Craig Parry created a mini-storm last month when he suggested world-class homegrown players should boost the profile and profitability of Australian tournaments by teeing up as often as possible.

Parry did not name the offenders, saying "they know who they are", but his comments were no doubt directed at US-based stars Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington.

Appleby's appearance at the recent Australian Open was his first and last this summer while Elkington has played only a dozen or so Australasian tournaments since he turned professional in 1985.

But Norman, who is playing four events here this year - the Australian Open, Heineken Classic, his signature Holden International and Ericsson Masters - today hit back in defence of his absent friends.

He said a suffocating US Tour schedule made the Christmas and New Year period the only chance for rest and relaxation for most of the topline professionals.

"The Australian players do not abandon the Australian tour and I take exception to that ... I totally disagree with that," he told Channel Nine's "Today' program.

"I know there was a bit of turmoil down there about four or five weeks ago and quite frankly I think it's wrong.

"The players have got themselves to think about, their families to think about, the game of golf to think about and their country to think about and I just wish people would take a look at the big picture.

"Every time a golfer goes out there on the golf course anywhere in the world and he's Australian, he's flying the Australian flag.

"For another player to basically say "you should change your schedule and come over here' is wrong because he doesn't know the whole picture.

"I wish the issue would just drop dead and go away."