STUART Appleby knows the feeling all too well. It arrives with a rumble about three or four in the morning, turns into a raging typhoon by the time you are due on the tee and prompts the inevitable question: ''What the hell did I eat last night?''
Greg Norman's early departure from the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum was a setback for organisers aGreg Norman's early departure from the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum was a setback for organisersnd a rarity for the generally fit and healthy 57-year-old. But food poisoning is somewhat of a trade hazard for golfers, who eat out almost daily when they are on the road. Norman wasn't upchucking his breakfast when he made his way to the tee for an early start on the Sunshine Coast, but it was clear from the outset that something wasn't right. The big frame, which remains a powerful force with a golf club in hand, was listless and he started with a pair of bogies.
Two holes in, the Shark had had enough. He made a polite farewell to playing partners Appleby and Jake Higginbottom before retiring to be treated by a local doctor, although Appleby had already provided a fairly detailed diagnosis.
''I guess he was feeling crook in the guts. That's the Australian version,'' Appleby said. ''I'm not sure if he warmed up on the range or not. He was just going to see how the swing mechanics were and obviously there's that thing in the back of your mind that says, 'I don't want to shit myself on the golf course'.
''He looked normal. It wasn't as if he was on the tee going, 'I'm going to throw up'. When he left he told us he wasn't feeling too good.''
Norman was in good spirits before his opening round, partly inspired by the victory of fellow veteran Peter Senior at the Australian Open. He even managed to fit in a game of tennis on Wednesday night before dining off-course at an undisclosed restaurant. But it all came back to haunt him on the first tee and Appleby, who shot two under, said he knew exactly how Norman felt. Eating out regularly makes dining something of a trade hazard for travelling pros, even when money is no barrier.
''It doesn't take much. I can think of a few tournaments where I've either been on the IV bag to try and get ready for a tournament or after the round trying to get right. If you've got it bad, it's really bad,'' Appleby said.
This was Norman's only scheduled appearance at an Australian tournament this year.