Norman Claims First Australian Masters Title
MELBOURNE – The Australian Open champion, Greg Norman, finally cracked through in Melbourne when he won the $65,000 Australian Masters at the Huntingdale Golf Club Sunday.
Norman, who has won around the world, collected his first victory on the famous sandbelt courses, picking up $11,700.
The Queenslander has played in only two tournaments this year, but already his bank account has been boosted by $18,000.
Norman fired a 1-over-par 74 Sunday to add to his 66-77-71, and was the only player in the field to finish the tournament under par.
He was 3 under and seven shots ahead of West Australian Terry Gale and Japan’s Norio Suzuki, who each won $5,000.
Norman became the first Australian to win the Masters title, after victories by New Zealander’s Barry Vivien and American veteran Gene Littler.
Norman also followed the trend of high scoring.
Vivien won the inaugural tournament, while Littler took the title during the first playoff hole last year from Sydney’s Rodger Davis.
After his first victory in Melbourne, Norman said: “I’ve been close a couple of times, but it’s nice to win one here.”
Although he won close to $250,000 last year, the Queesnslander says he has a rejuvenated psychological approach to the game this year.
In an attempt to improve his mental attitude Norman says he now fabricates hypothetical situation while traveling between tournaments and, as a mental exercise, attempts to solve them.
The Queenslander flies to America tomorrow for his first serious tilt at the lucrative U.S. circuit.
He plans to play three tournaments in America and will then fly to Japan for two weeks before joining the European Tour.
Norman last year finished second on the European Order of Merit, although he became top money-winner by winning the World Match Play Championship.
He said he was now “a better thinker” and has learned to control his adrenalin flow.
“When you want to win, you go out and win,” the ling Queesnlander said.
Norman admitted that “deep down inside” there had been a basic change in his mental and physical approach to the game. He now understood his assets.
They were, he said, his belief in his own ability and his confidence.
The pressure was there again yesterday but Norman felt that it added to his game. “It made me improve,” he said.
The quiet West Australian Terry Gale said he had never played the testing Huntingdale layout before, and found this particular course tighter than most.
He said he was happy to finish in joint second spot, but added that a couple of pars over the final two holes yesterday would have made the tournament “interesting.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Japanese professional Norio Suzuki said the cross-wind and different pin placements added three or four shots to the par of 73 and increased the degree of difficulty.
Suzuki, who is preparing for the rich Japanese circuit, said the week was a fine tune-up.