GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Greg Norman’s pro-am round with Lorena Ochoa was as much about getting a feel for how the other views a golf course as it was about birdies. The pair finished third, by the way, two strokes behind Candie Kung’s group (55).
Norman and Ochoa held a press conference after the round to discuss their bid to design the venue for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I think the thing that strikes me the most is that Lorena likes to see the game of golf like I do, growth in the grass roots,” Norman said. “And today when I walked off the golf course here, to see the number of children between the ages of 5-16 is a pure sign about where she touches the development of the game of golf – at the grass roots. That’s what the Olympics is all about, and what we’re about, which is why we are partnering with her.”
Ochoa’s Mexican roots are an obvious draw in Latin America. Norman approached Ochoa about the partnership in early September.
“I think I can give him the perspective of a player who is a little bit younger,” Ochoa said. “As someone who has been on the LPGA, I can give him an idea of how women strike the ball, how the ladies view the course in a different way.”
Norman believes he and Ochoa put in the eighth or ninth bid to the IOC. He estimates the IOC will make a decision before the middle of next year.
Their most intriguing competition, of course, is the powerhouse pairing of Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam.
“It’s not only about who played the best or won so many tournaments or so many majors, it’s about the person,” Ochoa said. “I think we are a good match. ... We think we have a good chance.”
Norman pointed out that whoever wins the bid must keep two things in mind: 1) This will be a public golf course after the Olympics are completed. 2) The Paralympics will follow the Olympics in 2016.
Whether it’s a blind person or a handicapped person who has difficulty getting in and out of bunkers or stepping up to a tee, Norman said there are many components to think about.
“It’s making sure that everybody who plays our golf course, not just in the Olympics, is going to enjoy that golf course every shot they hit,” Norman said.