Greg Norman and Tim Finchem. Always good for some fireworks. And
they appear to be starting up again.
This time it's over Norman and his belief he has the right to see
the financial details of the PGA Tour. Finchem, the PGA Tour's
commissioner, says no. Now lawyers are involved.
"I believe that what I'm doing is absolutely right,'' Norman said
earlier this week at Tibursn Golf Club to announce Merrill Lynch as
his Shootout's new title sponsor.
"To me, an open book's an open book,'' he added. "Like I said,
I'm not on any witch hunt. I just feel like I have the right, and I
have the right as a shareholder of a corporation.''
Playing tournament golf isn't taking up Norman's time as he
recovers from his second knee surgery in four months, the last in
February in Pittsburgh. He hopes to start hitting balls in June, then
return for the slew of Champions Tour majors in July and August,
sandwiched around the PGA Tour's International.
Norman and Finchem have feuded over the years, most notably from
allegations that Finchem had Norman's idea of a world tour squashed,
then stole it and turned it into the World Golf Championships.
But Norman claims this goes beyond that; he's concerned about the
future of the tour and feels the players should have all of the
information and are entitled to it.
"Am I hoping to find something wrong? No,'' he said. "I think
it's just the right of every player to make their decisions on the
information that you can read in the minutes of the meeting.
"I feel personally that some of the decisions made in there are
probably made without all of the information being disclosed to all of
the members. That's what I feel. If I'm wrong, I'll gladly say I'm
wrong. I'm not on a witch hunt here. I'll fall on my sword as good as
anybody if there's nothing in there.''
The tour has offered to have Norman come up with a list of
questions or issues he's concerned about and then release excerpts
from the minutes concerning those. "That's not the way to go about
it,'' he said.
According to Norman, the tour is afraid he will go public with
information in the minutes. "That's not my style,'' he said. "I
wouldn't do that.''
Norman's latest battle became public after he said in a Golf World
article in March that his demands were circulated in a memo to members
of the Players Advisory Council, Policy Board and Independent Board of
In the meantime, Norman's golf game won't be in public until the
summer. Like last year, he has a heavy schedule to start off with the
U.S. Senior Open, Senior Players Championship, Senior British Open,
PGA Tour International and JELD-WEN Tradition.
"I know that sounds like a lot of golf,'' he said. "Last year,
coming out of my back surgery [it] probably was a lot of golf.''
"This one will be interesting because I've probably been out of
the game longer than I've ever been since the Shootout last November
to when I start hitting balls in June,'' he added. "That's a long
period of time. I'm excited about getting back, but I'm also
interested to see how excited I will be by come middle of June.''
For now, Norman's contact with other players has been through his
e-mail. They've told Norman they're behind him, but he's surprised
players haven't become more involved or made their opinions known in
these types of situations, whether it regarded himself or not.
"I think they've got their security blanket up around their neck
and maybe the just don't want to know, either,'' he said. "They're
happy with what they've got. They're happy with their lifestyle. I
would want to know -- for the future of my kids' kids -- is everything
what it seems to be? Is the future of the PGA Tour what they say it's
going to be?
"That's all I want to know is the future for the players, and the
players should know for themselves.''
Contact Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News in Florida at