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Rio Gets Ready to Host First Olympic Golf Tournament in Over a Century; Walker Cup Showcases Future Stars; Young American Star Rickie Fowler; Solheim Cup Pre Match

Aired September 8, 2011 - 05:30   ET


SHANE O'DONOGHUE, HOST: The greatest show on Earth. From here at the home of golf to the Rio Olympics and beyond.

As the Carnival City prepares to host the first Olympic golf tournament in more than 100 years, can Brazil and golf make the most of it?

And inspiring the next generation of golf's established powers. This month, it's the Solheim and Walker Cups, showcasing the current and future stars of the game.

Welcome to LIVING GOLF.

This month, on the 100th edition of LIVING GOLF, the road to Rio.


NICK FALDO, WINNER OF SIX MAJORS, COURSE DESIGNER: Now golf has come back in for the very first time since 1904. It's special.


O'DONOGHUE: The historic Walker Cup here in Scotland. Future stars following in the footsteps of some of the greats.

Plus Rickie Fowler, former Walker Cup star and now major contender.

And we preview this month's Solheim Cup as the American and European stars of the women's game go head to head in Ireland.






O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Rio de Janeiro. Chosen to stage the first Olympic golf tournament in over 100 years.

First, Rio's organizing committee needs to build a course worthy of the honor. This summer, they chose a site. It's not far from the Olympic village in a wealthy residential area of the city.

A successful return for golf to the 2016 Games could prove a huge boost to the sport's development worldwide and within Brazil itself.

PAULO PACHECO, VICE PRESIDENT, BRAZILIAN GOLF CONFEDERATION: You have in Brazil around 25,000 players, and we are -- we think that after the Olympic Games, we can increase this -- in ten years, more than double.

O'DONOGHUE: But there's a serious hitch. Officials in Rio won't talk about it, but there are legal issues about who actually owns this land.

LUIZ ERNESTO MAGALHAES, O GLOBO NEWSPAPER (through translator): Right now, the property's being presented by a group who came to be the owner of the land. Official documents show the land does belong to this group.

But there have been disputes. Other parties are now claiming rights to this land.

O'DONOGHUE (on camera): From their base here in St. Andrews, the R&A governs the game. They lobbied the IOC to re-introduce golf to the Olympics. They've got a big stake in making sure that it's a success.

DUNCAN WEIR, DIRECTOR OF GOLF DEVELOPMENT, THE R&A: We will all be working very hard to ensure it is a success. We believe it will be a success, and it's very important for the game worldwide, particularly in countries where golf is not an established sport.

One day, we'll see players walking down the 72nd hole on the Open from countries that you wouldn't associate with golf, I think, as a result of golf re-entering the Olympics.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Big name designers are queuing up for the honor of creating the new Olympic course. The trouble is, golf's governing bodies and the Rio organizers can't really choose one until they know whether they've got the site.

In the meantime, Nick Faldo has an idea. Why not design such a unique course with a unique team of star designers, comprising Major winners from every continent led by a top architect.

FALDO: Now, golf has come back in for the very first time since 1904. It's special, so I think it should be something special, and I think this we could create almost the ultimate one-off of all one-offs. This will never happen again. We are never going to put a group together like this again, especially led by Tom Fazio.

If we could get a dozen or 18 of us, give it to male and female, everybody has a hole. We've got all the Major champions. When you put together that group, it's pretty exciting.

GREG NORMAN, WINNER OF TWO BRITISH OPENS, COURSE DESIGNER: Nick's idea is Nick's idea. You know? And they've got to sit back and weigh up. And I personally think it'll be tough because you've got the 18 Major winners, great story, but there's a lot of other great architects are left off that list, too.

Good. Throw all the ideas into the pot and -- but somebody needs to make a decision pretty quickly, because the clock is ticking.

O'DONOGHUE: Back in Rio, building work on the course has to start next year if the city's to get it finished in time. At a project for poor children there, part funded by the R&A, everyone knows how important a successful Olympic tournament is for Brazilian golf.

VICKY WHYTE, PRESIDENT, JAPERI GOLF CLUB: Well, there is a huge, big new generation of golfers appearing in Brazil, and we're getting in some of the poorer communities. And yes, these are the people who will benefit directly from the Olympic golf course.

VICTORIA ARAUJO MONTEIRO, JAPERI GOLF CLUB (through translator): I want to participate. I want to play, too. I'm going to practice a lot, make an effort and persist. Let's go.

O'DONOGHUE: Governing bodies around the world are now praying that Rio can deliver.


O'DONOGHUE: Still to come, the elite amateurs hoping to follow their Walker Cup heroes. And America versus Europe, the prequel. The two Solheim Cup captains prepare for the biggest tournament in women's golf.


O'DONOGHUE: Welcome back to LIVING GOLF in St. Andrews. Now, this month here in Scotland sees the 43rd staging of the Walker Cup, featuring the elite of American amateurs against the very best from Great Britain and Ireland. It's a match rich in history, some of it here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, an ancient clubhouse in St. Andrews again plays host to the Walker Cup tourney. American and British amateurs get away in the final round on the old course, and with 18 holes to go, it's still anybody's victory.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Not far short of a century old, played every two years, and named after the grandfather of someone rather well-known.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This evening I'm proud to be called something else, the grandson of Mr. George Herbert Walker.

I'd like to tell you just a little bit about him. He was tough, but he was a real role model, and he loved the game of golf, the honor, and the traditions of the game.

O'DONOGHUE: The British and Irish teams were overpowered for decades by the Americans, but have now fought back to win four of the last eight. So, unlike the Ryder Cup, the Walker Cup has never been expanded to take in other Europeans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ken Bishop of Norfolk, Massachusetts runs into tough luck along the way, too, and he lost his match to JB Carr of Dublin. Of all the matches, however --

O'DONOGHUE (on camera): When you visit the British golf museum here in St. Andrews, you really get a sense of the legacy of the Walker Cup and so many great names that have played in the matches, the likes of Luke Donald, who's played in it twice, Phil Mickelson twice for America before going onto a hugely successful career.

Fascinating program here from 1926. Bobby Jones is on the right hand side, of course the greatest amateur of all time, played in five matches, only ever lost one in his history of the Walker Cup.

Jack Nicklaus, of course, played in it twice in 1959 and 61. It's the likes of Gary Wolstenholme, here, and he's a man who took down Tiger Woods and his only appearance in Royal Porthcawl. Peter McEvoy has been a very successful captain and selector and, of course, played in five matches.

Fascinating putter, here, Bill Campbell, who played for America eight times, used this putter in four of the matches. A unique-looking implement, that.

And if I reach in here, there is a competitor's badge, and it's got on it the name of Michael Bonallack, now Sir Michael Bonallack, one of the greatest British amateurs of all time, won five amateur championships but played in nine Walker Cup matches, and he's right here. Great to see you, Sir Michael.


I came here in 1959, and we thought we'd got a very good time. And Raymond Oppenheimer was chairman of selectors, went down onto the practice ground to see some of these young Americans, and he came back with his head down.

And somebody said, "What's the matter, Raymond?"

He said, "I've just seen one of the greatest players I've ever seen in my life." And that was Jack Nicklaus. You name any other good players who are professionals now and most of them on either side of the Atlantic have played in the Walker Cup.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Just 78 miles up the coast, Royal Aberdeen. It's perhaps fitting that the sixth oldest club in the world is about to host the latest episode of this long-running rivalry.

With the Americans on the horizon, the Great Britain and Ireland squad is getting to know the Balgownie Links.

NIGEL EDWARDS, CAPTAION, GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND: When they see the role of honor when we tell them, they do stand up and take notice, the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods. More recently, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Lucas Glover. You know? And you stand up and take notice of that.

TOM LEWIS, ENGLAND, GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND WALKER CUP TEAM, 2011: The history of any -- any major event like the Walker Cup is going to be massive, and we watched videos over time, and they've been inspiring for us.

O'DONOGHUE: Two months ago, Tom became the first amateur to lead the British Open since Sir Michael Bonallack more than 40 years ago. For most of the team, though, the pressures of the Walker Cup will give them a first taste for the professional tournaments they hope lie ahead.

EDWARDS: You've got a crowd of 10,000 people, you've got live TV. The first tee is a very different experience. Sort of 3,000 people are on the first tee.

SIGGY HODGSON, ENGLAND, GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND WALKER CUP TEAM, 2009 AND 2011: It's -- it's so different to what we're normally used to. You've got crowds and you've got excitement all over the place.

And yes, you're playing for one another, which is actually quite difficult, because it's just yourself, you don't mind if you mess up as much.

But I mean, the overall experience is just -- it's just unbelievable, it really is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shot. Nailed it about ten position rod.


O'DONOGHUE: The Americans with star players such as Patrick Cantlay and Peter Uihlein are clear favorites. But while the home team know what they're up against, they're quietly confident they can write a new chapter of Walker Cup history.

MICHAEL STEWART, SCOTLAND, GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND WALKER CUP TEAM, 2011: Patrick Cantlay is showing them out. I mean, he shot a 60 in a PGA tournament. So, he's showing that he can play some serious golf.

And Peter, when Peter is on, he's very tough to beat, like so hopeful we're just going to be barreling in on it.

ANDREW SULLIVAN, ENGLAND, GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND WALKER CUP TEAM, 2011: I think we're just as good as them, and definitely around here is a big leveler for -- especially for us. I mean, we can definitely get a big advantage from playing around here.

LEWIS: I think any team will be confident of beating the other team, because I think if you didn't have that, there's no point in playing. And hopefully we can just bring our A game and hole a few putts at the right time and we'll win.

EDWARDS: There's a lot of talk about the American team, how strong they'll be. But we've got some good players. We've got a really cosmopolitan team. Different styles. And we'll do fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show here missing a tough one and hold out five and three. Ward's victor sparked an 8 to 4 triumph for the US. The Walker Cup is ours.


O'DONOGHUE: One of the outstanding players in the last Walker Cup was the young American Rickie Fowler.

Within the two years since that convincing victory by the Americans at Merion, he's established himself as one of the stars of the PGA tour and has impressed in the last two British Opens, including here at St. Andrews and, of course, at last year's Ryder Cup.

We've been spending some time with him in the States, asking him to show us some of the shots that have got him this far.


O'DONOGHUE: So, what to do when you hit a fairway bunker. We've got about 230 left to the flag. It's a par 5. Do you gamble? Do you go for broke? Do you play safe and just lay up and maybe even just knock one out with a wedge?

Well, we're going for broke today, because Rickie says it's possible.

RICKIE FOWLER, FIFTH, 2011 BRITISH OPEN: Now, when there's a lot of trouble around the green and tough conditions on -- or maybe there's a tough bend, I may favor the lay up.

If I have a chance to sneak it up around the green and there's a good place to chip from, I'm going to favor doing that.

You want to have a good base with your feet.

So, obviously, when you step in, and you want to get kind of where you're going to be and dig your feet in a little bit. That way, you have a good stance and you're not going to slide around a lot.

Some guys like to choke up a little bit because you're dug in. I usually stay pretty neutral, and them I'm just focusing on the ball first. There's not much of a lift here, so we don't have to worry about getting it up. That's why we're going for it.

But I'm worrying about making clean contact and, obviously, you want to stay away from hitting the sand as much as possible before you hit the ball.

We'll see what we can get here.

O'DONOGHUE: Oh, my word. You got incredible height on that, though, didn't you?

FOWLER: A little left, but -- it went a little left, but that's the safe side of the green.

O'DONOGHUE: OK, so I'm going to have a go at it myself.

FOWLER: You know, you're trying to pick the ball pretty clean, just like you would hit it off a very tight fairway.

All right, that's a good lay up.


FOWLER: We can make a wedge from there.

O'DONOGHUE: I'm kind of embarrassed, and I would love another go.


O'DONOGHUE: I love lies like this.

FOWLER: See, this is -- yes, this will help the sand game. Get in there and just build a little sand castle.



FOWLER: Sand shots are easy.

O'DONOGHUE: That's more like it. Why can't I get lines like that all the time?

FOWLER: It's tough. Yes, you've got have a good caddy.

O'DONOGHUE: You heard it first.


O'DONOGHUE: Still to come on LIVING GOLF, on course with the two Solheim Cup captains.


ROSIE JONES, CAPTAIN, US SOLHEIM CUP, 2011: Yes, perfect shot.



O'DONOGHUE: The United States versus Europe. In the men's game, it's the European Tour that's firmly on top, dominating so many of the recent Major championships and, of course, holding the Ryder Cup.

But here at Kileen Castle later this month, it's the European women who will be trying to reverse recent American supremacy. The US have won the last three Solheim Cups, but can they make it an unprecedented four in a row?

Well, we brought the two captains together for a little pre match and to get some insight into their thoughts ahead of the upcoming contest.


TEXT: Alison Nicholas, European Captain

Rosie Jones, US Captain

Allison Nicholas: Six Solheim Cup appearances, seven European Tour wins, four LPGA wins, US Open Champion, 1997

Rosie Jones: Seven Solheim Cup appearances, 13 LPGA wins.

JONES: 192, right here.

ALLISON NICHOLAS, CAPTAIN, EUROPEAN SOLHEIM CUP, 2011: That'll be good here. That will do. It's a great opening hole.

I'm just glad that I'm the captain, so I'm not playing.

JONES: I'm sure my team is going to have a lot shorter club into this hole than I am.

A little better than I thought I was going to be.

O'DONOGHUE: Rosie, you were a multiple winner on the LPGA circuit. You've come so close in so many great Major championships, a wonderful career. But to be captain of the US team now must be a huge honor for you.

JONES: Really a thrill for me. From all the Solheim Cups that I've played in from 1990 all the way up to 2005, the event has changed so much.

The first Solheim Cup started in 1990, and there was probably a thousand fans there, and now, there's just so many people, and it's so -- it's so much fun. The passion and the energy that the fans bring to it just really kind of matches the players.

Probably take it towards the middle of the green, huh? Not much room on the left.

That's what this Irish wind, you've got to keep -- you've got to knock it down --

O'DONOGHUE: Keep it low.

JONES: -- and keep it low. Didn't they teach you that over here?

You've got to know how to play in the wind over here. That's what I think I've got to keep telling my players.

NICHOLAS: Good shot.

JONES: Great shot from there.

NICHOLAS: See if I can make it for the hole. Not enough pace.

O'DONOGHUE: After the defeat a couple of seasons ago, how desperate were you to captain the team once again and to get another crack at it?

NICHOLAS: I think always to captain at home is something special, and I don't want to miss that opportunity. You know? We fought hard last time. The Americans just played that much better than us on that last day.

O'DONOGHUE: Managing personalities. There's so many big personalities on both teams. What was your experience a couple of years ago?

NICHOLAS: It presents challenges, but certainly getting to know the players is very important so that you can -- say the right things. And sometimes you think you've said the right thing, and actually you haven't, so I think that certainly that experience was beneficial to me.

But it is -- is a big task, because they're all individuals on a week to week basis, and suddenly they all come together, and that's the captain's challenge.

O'DONOGHUE: Nice drive.

JONES: Good shot, Ali.

O'DONOGHUE: How do players kind of deal with the pressure?

JONES: You know what? First of all, you don't get to the Solheim Cup without having to dealt with a little bit of pressure before you get here.

But the Solheim Cup gives -- adds a little bit extra. And you have to kind of learn the ropes, just like you did when you started out playing professional golf and play -- your first match in the Solheim Cup is probably the hardest match you'll ever play.

Part of my preparation will be to start introducing the thoughts that they're going to have coming into the final holes, and to get ready for that.

CHRISTINA KIM, AMERICAN SOLHEIM CUP TEAM, 2005, 2009, 2011: Probably two of my best memories was hitting the tee shot in the first match in my first Solheim Cup.

Everyone said if you feel like puking, that's OK, you can go ahead and vomit. But I felt like crying because it -- it meant that the week was almost over.

And also, just -- that first point that you win. There's nothing quite like that, seeing your name put up with -- seeing USA with 1 or 3 or 14, 15, whatever it ends up being, just seeing your -- knowing that you're making an addition to that team is phenomenal.

STACY LEWIS, MAJOR WINNER AND AMERICAN SOLHEIM CUP TEAM, 2011: I think anytime you get to represent your country, whether it's -- now we get the Olympics, too, but this right now, this is our only opportunity.

And I was able to represent the US at the Curtis Cup in 2008, and that was just -- it was unbelievable, just being on the team and seeing all the USA flags and things like that. That's what -- I mean, that's what it's all about.

O'DONOGHUE: 150 from just over there, so about 150 --

NICHOLAS: 150 from here?

O'DONOGUHE: Lovely shot!

Can we talk about being underdogs?

NICHOLAS: I think we are, if you look at it on paper. Absolutely. But that doesn't worry me. I certainly don't think it worries the girls.

MELISSA REID, EUROPEAN SOLHEIM CUP TEAM, 2011: I personally feel like I'm not threatened at all by the Americans. I don't feel intimidated by them at all. I've played against, obviously, all of them, and I feel that I can beat any single one of them.

And I think that -- that's the difference. I think that all the Europeans feel that way.

O'DONOGHUE: Oh, nice.

JONES: I guess I'm going to have to show a couple of them that shot, huh?

O'DONOGHUE: A lot of great shots.


JONES: Good shot, Ali.


O'DONOGHUE: Something that you always see in these big match play competitions is dramatic pull outs, chip ins. Why does it seem to happen so much?


O'DONOGHUE: Why does the magic appear?

NICHOLAS: I just think it's the -- the competition and the importance of it, and it just seems the players that thrive under pressure just produce in those situations.


JONES: You know you have that partner, and sometimes you can play a little bit more aggressive because you've got someone to back you up.

You always have someone there to clean up your messes.




JONES: Yes, the perfect shot.

NICHOLAS: One down, aren't I? So we'll go for the pin.


O'DONOGHUE: In bigger terms, how important is the Solheim Cup for the women's game in general?

NICHOLAS: Yes, I mean, it's just the showcase of women's golf, and I think everyone aspires to get in. The Solheim Cup team has you growing up as a kid.

And just as I watched the Ryder Cup, I wanted to get on a team event and play for my country, and I think that it gives something for the youngsters to look forward to and aspire to, and I think it's -- it's a fantastic event, and I think -- it's a great thing for women's golf.

O'DONOGHUE: Final question. How does the favorite tag sit with Rosie Jones?

JONES: I don't consider us a favorite. I think we look good on paper. I think we've had a lot of good success this year. Every single one of those players know that when we come to the Solheim Cup, everybody starts at even, and we're going to have to play some good golf to win our matches.

O'DONOGHUE: Rosie, Alison, thanks for your time, and the very best of luck in the upcoming Solheim Cup matches.

JONES: Thanks, Shane.

NICHOLAS: Thank you.


O'DONOGHUE: Well, we'll soon know if the American women and amateurs have managed to make it four Solheim and Walker Cups in a row.

Next month, we'll be in India looking at the state of the game there. And in the meantime, you can see all our reports online and keep across what we're up to on Twitter. But for now, from St. Andrews, it's good-bye.