Golf: Jet-set life such a trial for Norman

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The Independent Online
While Tiger Woods took an already frenzied gallery on an early morning tour of the Congressional, Greg Norman was saying how much he has enjoyed the arrival of a new superstar on planet golf. Presumably, because it allows Norman to get on with his life. You know, like buying a new jet and visiting your mate downtown in the White House.

Hard as he tries, the 42-year-old Australian, still rated the No 1 golfer in the world by the official rankings, cannot stay out of the headlines. On Sunday, at the Kemper Open, Norman gestured in none too polite a fashion at a spectator, who he thought had said: "Chunk it in the water". The day before, Norman tore a strip off the first tee announcer, who told the gallery politely to decline any offer to see the Shark's trophy cabinet.

This was a reference to President Bill Clinton's accident at Norman's home earlier this year, in which he injured a knee. Norman suddenly developed a publicity shyness over the incident and yesterday, apart from smarting over being described in the Washington Post as "that ill-tempered Aussie" and "Mr Sensitivo", was doing a bit of spin doctoring.

"The President says he feels great and he's lost 30 pounds, which he thanked me for," Norman said. "A couple of his staff came up to me and said: 'That's the best thing that ever happened to him. Don't worry about it because it slowed him down for a couple of months'."

The Norman family popped into the White House on Monday and got a personalised tour from the big chief. "My children are US citizens and it was a wonderful day for my family," Norman said. Not even Morgan-Leigh and Greg Jnr could believe it when their father told them he was about to buy a new plane, a Boeing 737-700 costing $32m (pounds 20m), not including the $6m worth of refinements to add an office, bedrooms for himself and his staff and a work-out area.

Part of the cost will be offset by a separate deal in which Norman, who reckons he travels 10 times around the world every year, will become a roving ambassador for Boeing Business Jets. As for his present G4 Gulfstream, Norman might try to sell that to Ian Woosnam, with whom he is paired tomorrow. Costantino Rocca, of Italy, will not be teeing off on Thursday, however, after withdrawing due to an unspecified muscle injury.