GN: You're right, in a way. People think I'm a machine and I ought to be able to do everything. But I'm a country boy, really. I'm not a flamboyant individual. I was a very shy, introverted guy, and I had to change a lot to be successful.
SI: How old were you when you started becoming a celebrity?
GN: I won my first golf tournament in 1976, when I was 21. That evening, at the presentation, I was supposed to mingle with the sponsors, but I didn't know what to say or how to go about it. I was off by myself in the corner. I was wearing white pants and a green shirt—it's that vivid in my mind. I said to myself, Son, you've got to change. If you want to be the best player you can be and go on and win golf tournaments, you're going to have to learn to mingle and make conversation. You're going to have to come out of your shell.
That was harder for me than working on my golf game, because it went against my grain. It probably took me a good five years. I started to reap the rewards when I won the British Open. By then I knew how to handle myself.
SI: You were quoted this year to the effect that you had lost the fire in your belly.
GN: It was around the time of the Masters that I said that, but I think it started toward the end of last year. I'd been working hard and practicing hard, and everything was taking its toll on me. I was trying to be six people in one. I was trying to run my business, give a lot to charities, look after my family. I didn't delegate enough, and finally it was like walking into a brick wall. But now I feel like I'm walking away from the brick wall. I've started delegating people to do certain jobs for me. I've got somebody looking after my business affairs. I've really prioritized my life.
SI: Whom have you delegated to do your fishing?
GN: Me. There are three things that are most important to me in life—my family, my golf and fishing.
SI: When you decided to get away from golf for a few weeks in April, was it difficult to do?
GN: It was quite easy to do. I can make a week feel like a month. I slow down that much. I like to go fishing on my own boat. There are no phones. I scuba dive. I can disappear.