Norman’s surprise British Open about-face

It was just a few months ago that two-time Open-winning Greg Norman said he would never be returning to the world’s oldest major championship.

Norman has not been sighted at the Open Championship since the-then 54-year-old missed the cut in 2009 Open at Turnberry, and where in 1986 he strode triumphantly to a first of two Claret Jugs.

Greg Norman Norman wins his first major at the 1986 British Open (Credit: R&A)

It all dates back to an incident in 2012 at Gleneagles when Norman was hosting a corporate outing on the same Monday morning as long-time good friend Jose Maria Olazabal was to announce his wildcards for the 2012 Ryder Cup. With steady rain halting Norman’s outing, he found his way into the hotel ballroom, trying to sit inconspicuously at the back of the room as Olazabal revealed his picks, only to be approached and asked to leave.

At the time Norman said: “It has left a pretty sour taste in my mouth, a bad feeling after what I have done in the game. I’ve nothing against the R&A and the European Tour but, quite frankly, the way they go about their business is not the way I do it.”

However, in the same week that a revealing and surprisingly up-front documentary about his life debuted on ESPN, Norman has revealed that he would be seeking an exemption to play in this year’s 150th Open Championship at St Andrews in July.

“I’m filling out my entry form now, I think I’m going. I think I can still get in,” the 67-year-old told News Corp.

“If there’s a moment in time that I would consider going back and teeing off one last time, maybe this is it.”

Days after the news broke, the R&A released a statement that seemingly put a quick end to Norman’s hopes.

“The entry terms and conditions for The Open stipulate that a champion must be aged 60 or under or have won the championship in the previous 10 years to be exempt from qualifying. That remains the case for The 150th Open and we have no plans for any additional exemptions.”

Norman’s recent partnership with the Saudis to take on the European and PGA Tours might have a lot to do with the quick rebuttal from the R&A. There would be little reason for them to bend over backwards for a guy who is trying his best to undermine them.

The double-major winner could take the qualification route but it seems Norman has already ruled that out too.