Greg Norman seems to be everywhere at the moment. In fact, when I gazed wearily into the bathroom mirror yesterday morning to deliver the usual doom-laden, expletive ridden lament of self-loathing prior to resuming hostilities with the laptop, I was convinced old Greg was actually hosting my own reflection.

The other day, Norman popped up again with the bamboozling declaration that he fancied playing in this July’s 150th Open at St Andrews.

“It’s the 150th, I’m a past Open Champion, I love St Andrews,” he told Australian media. “I’m filling out my entry form now, I think I’m going. I think I can still get in.”

It was an announcement that raised more eyebrows than a Hollywood cosmetic surgeon as Norman waxed lyrical about a potential revival that would be akin to Elvis Presley’s NBC Comeback Special in 1968. It was all utter fantasy, of course.

Norman, a two-time winner of the Claret Jug, hasn’t played in a major for 13 years or any competitive event for over a decade. He’ll be as rusty as the wheel arches of a decrepit Austin Allegro that’s been parked in a damp garage. If Norman loved St Andrews so much, why didn’t he play in the 2010 and 2015 championships in the Auld Grey Toun?

The R&A’s exemption for past champions runs out at the age of 60 and Norman is 67. Apparently, Norman isn’t intending to join the various Toms, Dicks and Harrys in final qualifying and is basically wanting The Open bigwigs to afford him an invitation which they don’t do.

In that respect, Norman’s statement of intent was nothing more than an inflammatory publicity stunt. As the face of the proposed Saudi Super League, the Great White Shark is desperate for any kind of headline to keep the whole circus relevant. 

By the time you read this, we may have a few names - Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia have been baned about -  for the opening event of the series which is set to launch at The Centurion Club in June. The deadline for players who are dual members of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour to request a release to play in the richest event on British soil was Monday. 

The only person to have publicly committed prior to the cut-off was Robert Garrigus, who is ranked at No 1053 in the world. He’s not quite the marquee name Norman was promising to his Saudi paymasters.

Of course, Norman, with the kind of bluster that would register on the Beaufort Scale, has been promising this, that and the other from the moment this whole money-over-morals, breakaway cash-grab first reared its head. His hopes of a seismic shake up of golf’s natural order remain so far off, though, he’d probably struggle to attract enough players for a Husband & Wife Salver.

What we are left with at the moment is eight events – admittedly events that are dripping with money - that will showcase a field of veterans, journeyman and, possibly, amateurs. With six weeks to go until the first tournament in Hemel Hempstead, don’t be surprised if there’s a knock on your door and it’s the bold Greg asking if you fancy a batter about to make up the numbers.

The Saudis, with their bottomless pit of resources, will no doubt be happy to bide their time and play the long game but Norman’s increasingly eccentric and desperate declarations will have added a good dollop of embarrassment to their endeavours.

The decorated Aussie is no stranger to fairly inflated outpourings. A couple of years ago, Norman, who still possesses the teeth, the tan and the tone that would make Adonis look like Les Dawson after an all-you-can-eat buffet, boasted about his family’s longevity.

“I’ve been very open about the fact I want to be the longest-living Norman,” he roared triumphantly. “I’d like to hit 108, 110.”

In the same, broad brushstrokes interview, Norman added that hitting a “pure golf shot” was as good “as having an orgasm”.

I’m afraid I’ll have to take your word for that, Greg. And as for this on-going Saudi pantomime? Well, it’s shaping up to be a bit of an, ahem, anti-climax.


What an absolute treat it was to venture down to the southern tip of Kintyre at the weekend and play magical Dunaverty.

The occasion was The Doyen Shield, an event set up to honour the memory of our dear, much-missed colleague Jock MacVicar.

Dunaverty was Jock’s little patch of golfing heaven, just an easy wedge from the family home in Southend.

Along with my auld mucker Martin Dempster of The Scotsman and club captain, Donald Brown, we were joined in a fourball by the indefatigable  Belle Robertson.

I’m delighted to report that local legend Belle, at a lively 86, remains as fit as a freshly buffed up fiddle and is still in possession of a swing that’s smoother than Nat King Cole in a velvet suit.

Many moons ago, Jock and Belle played in a mixed foursomes together and racked up a quite jaw-dropping 36 on one hole after getting into a dreadful fankle on the beach that lines the third.

With Jock’s voice in my head saying “don’t go bloody right”, I talked myself into going bloody right and inevitably ended up on the beach. I salvaged a solid nine. Jock would’ve been proud.