Originally created 04/24/98

Norman will head home and drop in rankings



If things go right, Greg Norman will be back in his Florida home this weekend focusing on his many business ventures now that his golf career is on hold for six months.

And when he returns to the game, Norman will find himself in the lowest position he's ever had in the World Golf Rankings.

"Unless he has a temperature or there is an infection, Greg will fly home today," Bart Collins, president of Great White Shark Enterprises, said Thursday from his Florida office. "Knowing Greg, I'm sure he will be back at work tomorrow."

Norman's businesses include golf course design, his own turf grass, a clothing line and endorsement deals with Cobra Golf and Maxfli.

Collins said the most likely return date for Norman following arthroscopic surgery Wednesday on his left shoulder would be Nov. 12-15 at the Shark Shootout, an unofficial PGA Tour event.

If Norman plays no more full field events this year he will end 1998 with 5.65 points in the World Golf Rankings, according to Tony Greer, manager of the rankings.

Currently, Norman is fourth in the rankings with 10.02 points. On this week's list, 5.65 points would put Norman in 16th place. Since the world rankings began in 1986 Norman has never been lower than seventh, a spot he hit during his slump of 1991-92.

Norman held the No. 1 spot for a record 96 consecutive weeks until last April and is the only player to be in the top 10 the entire time the rankings have existed.

With players such as Jim Furyk, Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer and Jesper Parnevik having less than 5.65 points, it's possible Norman will plunge ever farther than 16th on the rankings.

The most immediate impact a lower ranking would be in deciding whom Norman plays in the first round of the inaugural World Match Play Championship next February. The top 64 players will compete and be seeded according to rank. The farther Norman falls the tougher his opponent.

Peter Thomson, captain of the International team in the Presidents Cup, said Thursday he expected Norman to be fit to play in December when the event is held in Norman's native Australia for the first time.

"He's got plenty of time to get fit, there shouldn't be any problems," Thomson said. "Look at Ben Hogan, he used to only play about four events a year in his time and he won all of them.

"Greg's very dedicated to the event, he was instrumental in getting it going a few years ago and he's very keen to play."

The Presidents Cup will be played Dec. 11-13 in Melbourne, Australia.