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Norman Set To Return

Greg Norman will return to tournament golf in two weeks, feeling fully fit and serene after a seven-month break following shoulder surgery.

Norman fell in the rankings from the top of world golf to No. 13, but he says he has no need to return to the summit.

Norman said today he has played seven practice rounds since his operation, all within the past 10 days, and is feeling better than expected.

"I've got a huge amount of satisfaction. I've got a very unfiltered approach to life and golf right now," Norman said. "I knew the surgery was the right thing to do. I didn't have any reservations."

While optimistic, Norman conceded he had yet to test his game in a tournament. "But the way I feel right now, my ability to play is just as strong, maybe just a little bit higher, than what it was preceding the surgery. In other words, I'm 101 percent fit."

Norman's first challenge will come at his Shark Shootout starting Nov. 13 in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He will follow with the Skins Game and then return to his homeland for the Australian Open in Adelaide and the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, both in December.

"Being No. 1 has never been a priority of mine, however long I was there," Norman said. "I'm going out in 1998-99 with exactly the same philosophy I went out with in 1977 -- to go out there and be the best I can be."

If Norman has any doubts about his mental preparation, he has them well hidden.

"From a competitive level, it's like riding a bike," he said. "Once I'm back in that competitive environment, once I walk to that first tee, once I'm inside those ropes, that's what I cherish. I have no fear of that not being there."

Norman has enjoyed his time out of the game. He traveled the world with his family, watched some Broadway shows, had some fun.

"To go back and be No. 1? If I don't I'm not going to be bothered about it," Norman said. "As long as I go back and start winning and playing at the level I want, I'll be a happy camper."

He has cut his practice time from 6-8 hours a day to about 150 balls, to save wear and tear on his body. He hopes the decision to scale back the time he spends working on his game will help him stay fresh.

"I get more enjoyment out of playing and practicing now than I have done for the last 5-8 years because of my mental philosophy on how to go about things," Norman said.

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