The majority of players finish their careers without the thrill of a win on one of the world’s biggest Tours – and that means missing out on the unique experience of teeing it up as defending champion in a top tier event.
But South Australian Jason Norris is back at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course twelve months on from the biggest win of his life and he’s embracing the remaining spoils of victory at this year’s Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways.
“I’ve defended secondary Tour events and it’s great fun, but this is the next level and it’s just good to be back,” Norris said in his pre-tournament press conference.
“I’m not Ernie Els, so it’s a bit of fun for me! It’s just really good to be back and be in the spirit of Fiji.”
Norris was a part of Tuesday’s traditional Sevu Sevu ceremony to officially kickstart this year’s tournament and squeezed in a trip to Fiji’s famous Cloud 9 bar on Monday.
But the 45-year-old is most excited about returning to the scene of his famous four-shot win.
“You have good vibes going through your body, you have good feelings and it’s always good to come back to where you’ve played well,” said Norris.
“I’m really looking forward to getting out there and just doing it again.
“The weather’s perfect and the course is great so it’s just awesome to be back. Someone said it’s in better condition than last year, which is amazing.
“The new greens have settled in and are in fantastic condition I’ve heard. But it’s one of my favourite golf courses. I’ve said that before I won, I said it after I won.”
Last year’s Sunday charge proved Norris isn’t afraid of the game’s biggest names and with seven major championships between them, the presence of tournament host Vijay Singh and South African Ernie Els only excites Norris.
“Ernie’s come over and obviously Vijay’s back again, two world‑class players obviously we’ve all grown up with,” Norris said.
“It’s a thrill to be playing with them and it’s good to see Australian golf and Fiji golf with such good players.
A back injury has meant Norris hasn’t been able to put his best foot forward on the European Tour in the first half of 2018.
He currently sits 207th on the European Tour’s Race To Dubai rankings, but can make a charge at the all-important top-110 in the back half of the year in an attempt to keep his card for next season.
“I had a few sprained facet joints… It’s not good for golf, the rotation and everything, so the more I played, the worse it got,” said Norris.
“It’s really hard to keep on top of it. It started coming good the last three weeks to a month, which is good for obviously this week and the remainder of the year.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle with the travel and a lot of golf. Just been working hard in the gym and trying to get it rolling.”
Norris’ title defence gets underway at 11:50am on Thursday morning, alongside China’s Ashun Wu and Shiv Kapur of India.