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Greg Norman rates WGC events a failure

Twice British Open champion Greg Norman is disheartened by the failure of the World Golf Championships (WGC) events to be held more regularly outside the United States.

Created by the International Federation of PGA Tours to enhance the competitive structure of professional golf worldwide, the three WGC events will all be played on U.S. soil in 2008.

"I am very disappointed with it," Australian Norman, 52, told reporters during preparations for Thursday's opening round at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

"I felt that the whole concept was a fair concept. It obviously was, or it wouldn't have been picked up and run with on another level.

"At the end of the day, my priority is the game of golf and hopefully we'll be able to get a true World Tour one day because then we can all share.

"Golf is a truly international game and we've been represented by great players on just about every continent on this planet," added Norman, who was a leading proponent of a global golf tour in the early 1990s.

"I always wanted to make sure that the general public and the other 24 million golfers had an opportunity to see the best players in certain locations around the world.

"We play all over the world, so it (a World Tour) does fit, it really does."

The greatest achievement of the lucrative WGC events, which began in 1999, has been to assemble the game's best players on a more regular basis.

One rung down from the majors, the WGC events drive up television ratings by bringing together the world's top 50 and victory is highly prized by the game's elite.

However, the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship has been staged outside the U.S. only once in nine editions while the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational has never moved abroad.

"It seems like it (the World Tour) has come back into the United States unfortunately and that's why I congratulate the new tournament in Dubai in a lot of ways," former world number one Norman said.

"There's a new direction on the European Tour where they actually start thinking about doing a global approach to the game to have an ultimate goal, which is the Road to Dubai."

The European Tour announced in November plans to host the world's richest event, a $10 million tournament in Dubai from 2009, which will act as a climax to the season.

Norman, British Open champion in 1986 and 1993, is back on the PGA Tour this week for the first time since the 2006 International. He is making his first appearance at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am since 1992.


February 7, 2008

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