Norman says Stonehaven Trophy in good hands

Five-time Australian Open winner Greg Norman believes the Stonehaven Trophy, and the symbol of success in Australia’s premier golf tournament, is in good hands following Jordan Spieth’s impressive success at the Australian Club.

The 21-year old Spieth became the first American since Brad Faxon in 1993 to capture the Australian Open after shooting an impressive final round 63 on the same course where Norman had reigned supreme in 1996 in winning the last of five Australian Open titles.

Greg Norman Greg Norman (Credit: Bernie McGuire)

It was only Spieth’s second pro career success before the Dallas-born golfer travelled some 9,300 miles to the Isleworth Club in Orlando to capture the Tiger Woods hosted Hero World Challenge.

After finishing third on the Japan Tour with a 14-under par tally and then posting a 13-under par victory scre in Sydney, Spieth stormed to a 26-under par victory tally in Florida to be a remarkable 53-under par for his closing three events of 2014.

And that certainly impressed Norman, a winner of the Australian Open in 1980, 1985, 1987 and 1995.

“I was actually more impressed with Jordan’s efforts in winning the Australian Open because I know the Australian Club really well, I know the conditions down there,” said Norman.

“I know what jet lag can do for you. So to watch him progress the way he did down there shows me that he’s a lot more experienced than his young years, right? There was a huge injection of confidence for him. He played well this year but he really hasn’t played well enough to put his name up there on the pedestal where everybody expected him to be.”

“So by winning the Australian Open, and there’s been a lot of pedigree names put up on that, but it’s the conditions and the type of golf course he won on and the way he won on that type of golf course should be an indicator to him that there’s not a golf course out there in this world that he cannot play on.”

“And the more Jordan plays different golf courses, the more he’ll reflect back on the Australian because it’s a really demanding golf course and he played it with a lot of confidence. Yes, he putted well, but again that’s part of the ingredient of going on and winning, too. You putt well for four straight days, not just one day.”

And Norman can see a clear parallel with what Spieth achieved in the 2000 Olympic Games city to what World No. 1 Rory McIlroy did exactly 12 months ago, and how McIlroy used that success along the shores of Sydney Harbour to this year capture two Majors, a first WGC title and a first BMW PGA Championship.

“That would be a logical way to look at it as from Jordan’s standpoint, he’s got to look at it as a springboard,” said Norman.

“Now it’s not going to work all the time, but to me a great barometer for a great player is the fact that they can win in one country, jump on an airplane and win in another country on a totally different golf course, totally different greens, totally different grass, totally different atmosphere.

“So that for me is the sign of a really, really good player.”

While Greg Norman captured a fifth Australian Open at the Australian Club where Jordan Spieth won his first ‘overseas’ championship, the 1996 Australian Open was also notable as Tiger Woods debut in Australia.

Organisers paid a reputed bargain price of $225,000 appearance fee for Woods who, after shooting a first round 79, eventually shared fifth place with Ireland’s Paul McGinley and Australia’s Peter O’Malley and Kiwi Grant Waite.