By Brian Hanley-
(CBS) Can you say, “Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz in golf pants?”
Circle Nov. 17-20 on your must-see-TV calendar. That is when the Presidents Cup is to be played at Royal Melbourne. Thanks to Greg Norman going boxing weigh-in with his Tiger taunts, that golf tourney just got a whole lot more interesting.
Norman, the International team captain, dissed Fred Couples for tabbing Tiger for the U.S. team. The Shark also left a verbal mark in a recent magazine article in which he predicted Woods wouldn’t win another major.
Norman doesn’t think much of the way Tiger Woods plays golf these days, saying he wouldn’t have picked him to play in the Presidents Cup.
The Shark told the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press last weekend that Couples should have selected PGA champion Keegan Bradley over Woods.
“I can understand the name of a Tiger Woods and his history of what he’s done on the golf course,” Norman said. “But I pick the guys who I think are ready to get in there and play and have performed to the highest levels leading up to it.”
Couples said a month before announcing his picks that one of them would be Woods, saying he was the “best player forever.” Woods hasn’t won in the last two years and has fallen out of the top 50 for the first time since he was a 20-year-old rookie in 1996. Couples also picked FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas.
Couples also said Bradley would be added to the team if Steve Stricker’s neck injury prevents him from playing.
At this point, finding much wrong with Norman’s prediction on Woods not winning another major may be a bit difficult. Not that Couples cares now much about Woods chasing Jack Nicklaus’ record.
But to take a page out of Kenny Williams’ playbook, Couples basically told Norman to stay out of the U.S. business when it comes to the Presidents Cup.
“I have no problem with Greg,” Couples said. “He can say whatever he wants, but I’m not really into that. I play golf with my clubs. Robert Allenby is his pick, and Aaron Baddeley, and they’re Australians and I think they’re great picks. But I think I can sit here and say Robert Allenby hasn’t won a tournament in 10 years.”
Couples got all of that one, spanking Australia’s golf tour about 375 verbal yards. Allenby’s last PGA Tour win was 10 years ago in the Pennsylvania Classic, although he has seven wins since then, including Australian’s Triple Crown – the Masters, PGA and Open – in 2005.
“The truth is, Tiger Woods is the greatest or the second-greatest player to ever play, and he’s going to be down in Australia, and I hope he plays up to his capabilities,” Couples said. “But I think Tiger is used to getting picked on, and it’s irrelevant to me.”
Norman made his comments Saturday while promoting his Shark Shootout tournament at Tiburon Golf Club. Bradley is part of the 24-man field in the Shark Shootout, and Norman said he felt bad that the 25-year-old rookie was not part of the U.S. team.
“If I was in his shoes, I would feel like I got gut-checked a little bit,” Norman said. “He’s a young guy. He likes the Presidents Cup. He loves the idea of playing for his country, and he’s not. So I feel for him.”
Woods played for the first time in nearly two months at the Frys.com Open last week and tied for 30th.
Norman’s comments are sure to add some spice to the Presidents Cup, which the Americans have lost one only time – in 1998 at Royal Melbourne. That year, Woods played Norman in singles and won on the 18th hole.
“I just don’t think he’s swinging the golf club the way he used to when he won all those major championships,” Norman said. “He’s a different player out there nowadays. He even looks tied up. He looks more confined. I know what it takes to have freedom in a golf swing and I just don’t think he’s technically in the right position to do what he used to do.”
Don’t think there will be any non-golf swings taken when Norman meets Tiger at the Presidents Cup. But will be watching just in case.
For more information, listen to Brian Hanley on 670 The Score mornings from 5am – 9am and check out MullyandHanley.com