US con­quered, Nor­man eyes re­turn home

The Weekend Australian - - FRONT PAGE - CAMERON STEW­ART

Greg Nor­man left Aus­tralia for the US in 1981, at the height of the Cold War, shortly af­ter Ron­ald Rea­gan be­came pres­i­dent and U2 re­leased their de­but al­bum.

From his base in sun-kissed Florida, he has since carved him­self into sport­ing his­tory as the most ex­cit­ing golfer of his gen­er­a­tion while also cre­at­ing a busi­ness em­pire worth hundreds of mil­lions of dol­lars and be­friend­ing US pres­i­dents from Ge­orge Bush se­nior, to Bill Clin­ton and now Don­ald Trump.

Thirty-six years on, Nor­man, now 62, is think­ing of com­ing home. It won’t be to­mor­row — he has too many busi­ness ven­tures go­ing on in the US — but the idea has got into his head and he can’t shake it.

“I would love to go back and have a place there ac­tu­ally,” he tells The Week­end Aus­tralian in an in­ter­view at his Florida home.

“I would love to have a vine­yard. I don’t know where: I love Mar­garet River, I love the Barossa Val­ley, the Yarra Val­ley, the Hunter Val­ley.

“I oc­ca­sion­ally go on realestate.com.au on a rainy Sun­day morn­ing with a cup of cof­fee and surf the Aus­tralian real es­tate mar­ket for a cou­ple of hours.”

Nor­man’s wife, Kirsten “Kikki” Kut­ner is also keen to re­turn to Aus­tralia, where she grew up and went to a Syd­ney high school. “I love Aus­tralia,” she says. “Aus­tralians are very hip and trendy and the cul­ture is much more in­ter­est- ing than Florida. I am a very chilled beach girl at heart so I hope one day to move back with Greg to build our dream home some­where in Queens­land.”

De­spite liv­ing in the US since 1981, Nor­man has never sought US cit­i­zen­ship and has al­ways worn his love for Aus­tralia on his sleeve. In the back­yard of his op­u­lent Florida home Nor­man flies the Aus­tralian and US flags sideby-side in front of his boat called “Aussie Rules”.

“I could have two pass­ports but I only need one and that’s an Aus­tralian one,” Nor­man says.

Nor­man, who is mates with Mal­colm Turn­bull and Mr

Some peo­ple think I’m ’m show­boat­ing oat­ing but I am m not, that is me

Trump, says it was his pas­sion for Aus­tralia that led him to try to build bridges be­tween the two coun­tries once Mr Trump was elected Pres­i­dent.

In The Week­end Aus­tralian Mag­a­zine to­day, Nor­man re­veals how he tried to use back-chan­nel diplo­macy, in­clud­ing through for­mer White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, to get Mr Trump, his for­mer golf­ing part­ner, to un­der­stand the unique na­ture of the US-Aus­tralia al­liance.

“I thought it was very im­por­tant for Don­ald to be aware of the re­la­tion­ship of big brother-lit­tle brother that has evolved over decades,” he says. “I am a very proud Aus­tralian ... and I wanted to put it in front of him, so it is on his radar screen in the Oval Of­fice.”

He is a friend and a fan of Mr Trump, al­though his ini­tial en­thu­si­asm for his first 100 days as Pres­i­dent has cooled slightly af­ter a se­ries of re­cent con­tro­ver­sies. “How is he go­ing? I think he is his own worst en­emy right now,” he says. “It is his per­son­al­ity. He is go­ing to do what he wants and say what he wants, but I think in the po­si­tion he is in you have got to take a mo­ment to re­flect and not re­act. Think about what’s com­ing out of your mouth. Al­low it to churn around in your brain a lit­tle bit more and then bring it out, be­cause he is the leader of the free world.”

JAMES CANT

Greg Nor­man re­laxes at his Florida home, 36 years af­ter he left Aus­tralia and moved to the US

Kut­ner with Nor­man

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