Golf: Norman branches out to form new company: World No 2 leaves Mark McCormack's management group and takes top executive with him

GREG NORMAN, one of the most prominent jewels in Mark McCormack's crown, has decided to form a separate company in the new year. The 38-year-old Australian is branching out and is taking one of McCormack's men with him, writes Tim Glover.

Frank Williams, an executive with McCormack's International Management Group in Australia, is leaving IMG to work for Norman in developing fresh business interests in Florida. These include aircraft leasing and the marine industry.

'There has been a restructuring of the relationship between IMG and Greg but it's no big deal,' Hughes Norton, IMG's senior vice-president in Cleveland, Ohio, said last night.

'It's happened to a number of other superstars. Andre Agassi hired people to work for him independently and Gary Player hired his son, Mark, to work for Gary Player Enterprises and Arnold Palmer has his own staff of separate people.

'We'll continue to work for Greg in all his contractual agreements, his golf course design and the Shark Shoot-out in California. Everything changes in life. I see the merits of Greg's decision.'

Norman, a Queenslander who has homes in America and Australia, has enjoyed his finest season since 1986. Seven years ago he won the Open at Turnberry and he won it again this year at Royal St George's, Sandwich. Although No 2 to Nick Faldo in the Sony world rankings, a system devised by IMG, Norman believes the only true reflection would be provided by a world tour.

Whatever Norman's on-course earnings, he can expect to multiply it by 10 with a wide variety of endorsements. Last week there was criticism of his absence from the Johnnie Walker World Championship in Montego Bay, Jamaica, an event run by IMG. Norman said that he needed to rest at home with his family.