GOLF : Norman and Price `let game down'

Tim Glover on golf's latest controversy
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The Independent Online
The agreement between Greg Norman and Nick Price to concede each other generous putts on the final day of the Dunhill Challenge was described by Ken Schofield as "absurd".

Schofield, the executive director of the European Tour, said yesterday: "Greg's got to understand he deserves better from himself. He's a lot better than that. He let the game down, he let the team down. Unfortunately, Nick Price conspired with him. That's not what golf's about."

The inaugural Dunhill Challenge, between Southern Africa and Australasia in Johannesburg, was described as an alternative to the Ryder Cup match between Europe and the US. In the singles on Sunday, Norman and Price were all-square playing the 16th. Norman, who was nine feet from the hole, said to Price, who was 15 feet away: "Let's go." Price concurred, the putts were conceded, and the hole halved.

"We had talked about it before," Price said, "and we wanted the match to go to the 18th. We didn't want this event to get like the Ryder Cup with players not speaking to each other." Schofield said: "This was supposed to be a special addition to the calendar and there were players trying their guts out, but what happened between Norman and Price was absurd. Both men made an error of judgement."

Price, the Open champion, defeated Norman at the 18th, contributing a point in Africa's 14-11 victory. "If the show is supposed to be more important than the result then it's not worth having," Schofield said.

Schofield, referring to the historic Ryder Cup of 1969 at Royal Birkdale where Jack Nicklaus conceded Tony Jacklin a putt of about three feet on the last green in the last match which produced a tie, added: "It's acceptable when a putt is three or four feet but nine and 15 feet? Come on." Terry Gale, the captain of Australasia, said: "I was surprised. Every member of the team has an obligation to the other guys and also the country he is representing."

Gale will be 50 next year and eligible for the European Seniors Tour. Four new tournaments have been added, with prize-money in excess of £1.1m, and the highlight is the Seniors British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland in July.

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