1978 Traralgon Classic
Traralgon Golf Club
Traralgon, Victoria, Australia

Late Run and Greg Wins Again

1978 Traralgon Classic
The victory gave Norman his second win in a row, following his dramatic last-round 64 last week to win the Caltex Festival of Sydney Open at The Lakes.

TRARALGON — If confidence counts for anything, 22-year-old Greg Norman is well on his way to becoming a millionaire golfer.

Yesterday the broad-shouldered Brisbane youngster, deciding it was time to assert his authority, overhauled overnight leader Colin Bishop to win the $15,000 Traralgon Loy Yang Classic with a final round of 67, 5-under-par.

It gave Norman his second win in a row, following his dramatic last-round 64 last week to win the Caltex Festival of Sydney Open at The Lakes by three shots from Victoria’s Ian Stanley.

There was no doubt in Norman’s mind yesterday that that he would win, a characteristic we have come to expect from the confident Queenslander since he burst onto the professional scene just 16 months ago when he won the West Lakes Classic in Adelaide.

Once again he left his run late, and this time his closing 67 gave him a mere one-shot victory over Bishop, one-time truck driver and former NSW amateur player, who has been a professional only since November.

Bishop, 22, hit off yesterday with a two-shot lead and a lot of people were saying he’d crack. He replied by shooting a 2-under-par 70, missing a curly 20-footer to tie with Norman.

Bishop has played No. 4 to Australian internationals Tony Gresham, Phil Wood and Colin Kaye in the NSW team, and to beat him Norman had to shoot an 11-under-par total of 277, with rounds of 71, 70, 69 and 67.

Norman strides the course giving the impression he’s on top of it all, and I guess his accountant is more than happy so far. Last year the Queenslander collected about $70,000 in tournament checks with victories in both Japan and England, and, along the way, signed a contract worth about $120,000 with the Wilson Sports Goods company for the next three years.

But to his chagrin Norman failed on the major Australian circuit last year. “I was very disappointed with my play here,” Norman said. “Maybe I was trying to do too much or live up to a reputation that wasn’t already there. Certainly I didn’t concentrate enough, nor did I prepare myself for tournaments properly. I know that all now.

There’s speculation among golf writers whether Norman or Spaniard Severino Ballesteros (just one year younger) is the top young player in world golf today. At the moment I believe it’s a line-ball. Spaniards would disagree.

Norman admits his feet may have been slightly off the ground for a while (after all, what other kid has done so well after first picking up a club at the age of 15?) but now realize work must be done to cement himself into the elevated position expected of him.

“I am not even thinking about the U.S. circuit until 1980 or 1981,” Norman said. “That can be a golfer’s graveyard. I want to build myself up, both financially and mentally, before I go near the place for any length of time.”

Norman will concentrate his more than ample skills on Japan, England and Australia this year.

Yesterday, Norman went through pain for 14 holes to add a new dimension to his experience. A big hitter of the ball, Norman wrenched his back muscles on the fourth hole and then had to adapt his game.

Over the last 14 holes, he merely punched the ball or blocked it off the tee, reducing his distance, but at the same time forcing himself to use survival tactics he’d never have to use before.

He’s made an appointment for today with a Brisbane specialist to examine his back. He hopes after a few days’ rest to come to Melbourne and with the Victorian Open to be played at Metropolitan from February 16 to 19.

Norman is a brilliant golfer and, despite his back trouble, he carded nine birdies and two bogeys on his path to victory yesterday.