Augusta: We Did Not Extend An Invitation To Mr Norman

One of the fuzziest traditions of the Masters is that it brings all the great and good of the game to Augusta National and everyone is together in one place.

No player has probably come closer to winning the Green Jacket more than Greg Norman, with three second and three third places, and historically the Aussie has been invited back. But things are very different in the world of golf these days and, as he told the media last week, nothing came through the post this year.

“Funnily enough, I haven’t been invited,” he said. “As a major winner I always was before, but they only sent me a grounds pass last year and nothing – zilch – this time around. I’m disappointed because it’s so petty – but of course I’ll still be watching.”

To get a bit more on the bigger picture the Masters chairman, Fred Ridley, was asked why the two-time major winner was persona non grata this year (given that he oversees a breakaway circuit which has tipped professional golf on its head)?

"We did not extend an invitation to Mr. Norman. The primary issue and the driver there is that I want the focus this week to be on the Masters competition, on the great players that are participating, the greatest players in the world, which, by our decision in December, we ensured that we were going to honour and be consistent with our invitation criteria.'

The most revealing part of all this is that Norman rarely visits Augusta, not that he would have pointed that out.

"I would also add that, in the last 10 years, Greg Norman has only been here twice, and I believe one of those was as a commentator for Sirius Radio. It really was to keep the focus on the competition."

Norman also pointed out that he doesn't think that he'll ever be invited back, something that Ridley also addressed with more common sense.

"I mean, it's hard to answer that question because, you know, I don't know where the world is going to be next year or two years from now. But as I stated, I would say -- I would never say never. But I told you why he had not been invited this year."

As for the general bonhomie between the players, Ridley added that there had been nothing out of the ordinary this year.

"The tone has been really good here this week. I've noticed the players are interacting. At the Champions Dinner, I would not have known that anything was going on in the world of professional golf other than the norm. So I think, and I'm hopeful, that this week might get people thinking in a little bit different direction and things will change."