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Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy Head to Head in Dubai; Caddying for Luke Donald; Remembering Seve; Looking Ahead to 2012; One on One With Rory McIlroy

Aired December 7, 2011 - 05:30:00   ET


SHANE O'DONOGHUE, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, head-to-head here in Dubai. Within Luke's grasp, the opportunity to become the first man in history to win the American and European tours in one season. For Rory, it's a chance to win the European title and add that to his first Major championship.

Welcome to LIVING GOLF.

In this month's program, the current world number one, Luke Donald.


LUKE DONALD, WORLD NUMBER ONE: I feel like in my game, I'm getting to the point where maybe I don't need to peak to win.


O'DONOGHUE: The experts on who'll be making it big in 2012.


BUTCH HARMON, COACHED TIGER WOODS, PHIL MICKELSON, AND DUSTIN JOHNSON: We're going to see Tiger Woods come back. He's Tiger Woods, Shane. Come on.


O'DONOGHUE: One-on-one with the man everyone tips, the US Open champion, Rory McIlroy.


RORY MCILROY, US OPEN CHAMPION. 2011: Caroline's a very good influence on me. It's nice to be able to share things with someone who really understands.


O'DONOGHUE: And remembering Seve.


JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL, SEVE'S RYDER CUP PARTNER: People that saw him play will never forget that.


O'DONOGHUE: As Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald touch down here in Dubai, they each brought with them legitimate claims to be the star player of 2011. Rory had turned a collapses at the Masters in April into a crushing victory just two months later at the US Open.

Luke Donald's year had seen a relentless rise to world number one, and then the American tour's moneyless title. As he prepared here for the climax to the European tour season, he knew he was on the brink of history. Only Rory could stop him.


O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Luke's year began in the deserts of Arizona.

DONALD: The win at the Match Play was obviously very key. I'd go in against the top 64 guys in the world. And being as convincing as I was in a lot of the matches gave myself a lot of confidence.

O'DONOGHUE: Rory's caught fire on the manicured greens of Augusta before disaster struck. And Charl Schwartzel closed brilliantly to win the Masters.

CHARL SCHWARTZEL, MASTERS WINNER, 2011: It was a very, very special experience.

MCILROY: What I did from Augusta, I obviously didn't think about it that much on the Sunday. It all just got a little fast and all unraveled a little bit.

But the week after in Malaysia, I had a lot of time to think about it, and I drew conclusions from it myself. Also had advice from a number of different people the likes of Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus, Sir Alex Ferguson.

And I sort of came up with a plan, and going into the US Open, I knew if I got myself into position like I did at Augusta, I'd know what to do.


O'DONOGHUE: Just two months later, the 22 year old had won his first Major championship, shooting the lowest-ever score in US Open history and returned in triumph to his hometown in Northern Ireland.



MCILROY: Tiger won his first one at 21, Jack won his first one 22, Seve won his first one 22, I'm 22. But this is just one and I'm looking to make it two. And when I make it two, I'll want to make it three.

O'DONOGHUE: McIlroy went to the Open championship as favorite, but it was the Irishman nearly twice his age who took the Claret Jug.

DARREN CLARKE, BRITISH OPEN CHAMPION, 2011: To me, it's the biggest and best room in the world. Easy for me to say that now, but the Open always has been, and it's -- it was my lifetime goal from the moment I started playing golf, that's all I ever wanted to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The walk of a champion.

O'DONOGHUE: After the young American, Keegan Bradley, took the last Major of the year --

KEEGAN BRADLEY, US PGA CHAMPION, 2011: Last night, I celebrated with my family just -- I had cereal and peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I just -- we just stared at that trophy all night.

O'DONOGHUE: McIlroy and Donald won again to set up the season's finale. Could Luke become the first-ever player to finish top in both America and Europe, or would Rory stymie him at the last?

DONALD: Well, it's been a fun ride. I think -- I think every aspiring golfer or athlete in any sport always wants to be as good as he can be, and nothing better than being number one.

O'DONOGHUE (on camera): Winning the US money title, massive.

DONALD: Disney, in a certain way, meant more to me than some of the other wins just because of what was on the line. I went there knowing that I had to win.

O'DONOGHUE: A brief word about the Majors?

DONALD: Well, it was a step in the right direction, you know? I had a chance in a couple of the Majors, a good chance at the Masters. Obviously that's a hole in my resume. I'd love to fill that one. And I'm excited about having four more chances next year.


O'DONOGHUE: Well, I'd hate to take any credit for Luke Donald's incredible achievements this year, but maybe, just maybe, something that happened earlier in the summer gave him an extra edge.


O'DONOGHUE: Any advice you'd like to give me?

OHN MCCLAREN, LUKE DONALD'S CADDY: Hopefully you have your yardage book.


MCCLAREN: Pretty important that you don't lose the towel. Try not to leave the bag unattended. Make your calculations accurate.

O'DONOGHUE: That the wrong yardage?

MCCLAREN: I've got one other thing.

O'DONOGHUE: Oh, yes?

MCCLAREN: It's all part of the caddy thing. You'll probably need a pair of shorts.


MCCLAREN: Look around and --

O'DONOGHUE: I thought I was going to get away with that bit.

MCCLAREN: Unfortunately not.

DONALD: Fits you like a dream.

O'DONOGHUE: Thank you.

Well, I'm here on the 15th at Wentworth. Great to be with my new employer, Luke Donald.

DONALD: For a couple of holes. Good to see you.

O'DONOGHUE: Well, I promise to do my very best for you. John is going to be on standby as well, just monitoring my progress over the next few holes. And we'll be kind of benefiting from his experience, as well, and getting a few insights in how to best caddy for an elite player like Luke Donald.

MCCLAREN: You need the clubs, that's the first bit.


O'DONOGHUE: This is a whole new ballgame.

There you go. Find one in there.

DONALD: Should be some in there, in this pocket.

O'DONOGHUE: So you want to be around there.

DONALD: You need to carry that, I think, downwind. That's the rescue running out.

O'DONOGHUE: First take here -- My apologies.

O'DONOGHUE: This is for you. Happy enough, so -- you've got a bit of a wipe?

DONALD: Use the wet end of the --

O'DONOGHUE: I think it's the wet end.

DONALD: I fell in the trap about three or four years ago. I was playing very well in 2006, had ten top tens, or whatever, I won the Honda Classic. And I got number six or seven in the world at that point, and felt like, if I was going to get to number one, I had to hit it further.

And my coach never thought I needed to hit it further, but he got my swing a little bit out of position, and it's taken three or four years to really get it back to a place where I feel a little bit more in control.

O'DONOGHUE: Now, we're in the bunker.

MCCLAREN: Not always a bad thing for Mr. Donald.

O'DONOGHUE: Yes, one of the best out of the sand, isn't he?

DONALD: That's number two. I've done that twice, now.

O'DONOGHUE: Looking at the three?

DONALD: This is the three wood, yes. I'm going to give it a go, I think.

O'DONOGHUE: Oh. I didn't want to talk to it.

DONALD: There was a bit of bent wrist, I think, going into that. You probably should have told me to lay up.


DONALD: Because I'm one of the best wedge players in the world, and I would've got up and down the pipe, saved my par.

O'DONOGHUE: Drop back.


O'DONOGHUE: Well done, Luke.

DONALD: Thank you.

MCCLAREN: Well done, mate.

O'DONOGHUE: Thank you very much, John, thank you very much, Luke.

DONALD: You're welcome.

O'DONOGHUE: It's been a pleasure. It's been tough at times, but a great experience caddying for one of the best players in the world, Luke Donald.


O'DONOGHUE: Still to come on LIVING GOLF, remembering Seve in the words of those who knew him best.


RAMON SOTA, SEVE'S UNCLE, WINNER OF 11 OPEN TITLES: He hit bunker shots with a five iron. Jesus Christ, with a five iron!


O'DONOGHUE: And we sit down with arguably the most gifted player of the younger generation, Rory McIlroy.


O'DONOGHUE: Welcome back to LIVING GOLF. Now, amidst all the excitement of this season and its climax here in Dubai, everyone here is very aware that the world of golf lost a huge figure this year.

Severiano Ballesteros Sota, Seve, one of the greatest and most loved superstars the game has ever known, lost his battle against a brain tumor back in May.



O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Seve's funeral in his small village in northern Spain brought together stars of the game with friends who had known him all his life.

VALENTIN ONTANON, NEIGHBOR AND CHILDHOOD FRIEND (through translator): We used to play at a place called El Rostro, just on the other side of the beach. It was a bit flatter so it was good for football.

But it was too easy for golf. So, we came here for harder golf, when the tide ebbs and the balls get stained in the sand.

TEODORO BEDIA, FRIEND AND SPORTING DIRECTOR, GOLF DE LA JUNQUERA (through translator): I met Seve when I was 11 and he was four or five. We played football while he played golf with a wooden club and a ball along the beach.

SOTA: He -- he hit bunker shots with a five iron. Jesus Christ, with a five iron!

BERNARD GALLACHER, CAPTAINED SEVE IN THREE RYDER CUPS: I remember playing in the French Open, I think, in 1976, and Manuel came up and said to me, "You're playing with my young brother today."

I said, "Oh, yes, who's that?"


And I said, "OK, well, that's great. I'm looking forward to it."

And you know, he was raw. And then, later in the year, he suddenly burst on the scene at Royal Birkdale, and we're watching Severiano build up this lead in the Open championship. And that, I think, is the time when we realized that he was something special.

TEXT: Three British Open Championships: 1979, 1984, 1988

Two Masters: 1980, 1983

50 European Tour victories (all-time record)

Six European Tour Order of Merit Titles: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1986, 1988, 1991

Nine PGA Tour victories

Six Japanese Tour victories

COLIN MONTGOMERIE, WINNER OF EIGHT EUROPEAN ORDER OF MERIT TITLES: Prize money doubled, tripled when he was coming through the ranks.

GALLACHER: He was the European tour's -- I would say first superstar.

SOTA (through translator): Many people have asked me if I taught him. No, I never taught him anything. Once in a while, he would ask me a question. That was all. But can you teach anything to a guy like Messi in football?

SAM TORRANCE, WINNING RYDER CUP CAPTAIN, 2002: When Seve walked into a room, you knew he was in the room. Virtually everyone stopped. Even golfers, just in awe of this great man.

OLAZABAL: A nice, good-looking guy, tall, fit. Obviously very popular. Somehow, I think woman are pretty attracted to that.

BILLY FOSTER, SEVE'S CADDY, 1990-1995: Well, there's no other golfer that I've ever met to this day that showed the determination, the grit, the desire.

My first Masters was 1991. We got there on the Saturday. He played on his own, and it took us seven hours to get around August. He hit shots from everywhere, chips from everywhere, pops from everywhere, and he played Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 18 holes. I was ready to go home, I was that tired.

The tournament started, and we got to the ninth hole, and he said to me, "How far have we got?" And it was something like 142 yards.

And I said, "It's uphill into the wind a little bit."

And he says, "Pitching wedge, eh?"

I've gone, "No, no, no, no, no. Seve, it's a nine iron, Seve. Pins front left over the bunker?"

"Are you sure?"

I said, "Yes, it's a nine iron."

So, he hits the shot, nine iron, lovely shot all over the flag, great shot. Nobody claps.

"Billy, you see the ball?"

I said, "No, no, no, I didn't see the ball, Seve, no."

So he walks up there, he turns around and goes, "Billy, Billy, you son of my bitch. Son of my bitch, Billy!"

And I'm like, oh no. Welcome to Augusta.

Anyway, he gets up there and the pin's short and off it's on the top two and the pin's on the front two. So, he hits this pop off the right- hand side of the green. It sticks in the rough.

Now I'm thinking, oh no. I'm dead. But then, the ball trickles and trickles and eventually rolls down 50 foot. Finishes like that. Gets me out of jail.

And as he taps it and he walks off the green, he goes -- he taps me on the shoulder and he says, "Billy, Billy. Billy. It's not your fault, eh? It's mine for listening to you."

TEXT: Ryder Cup record

Eight Ryder Cup appearances: 1979, 1983, 1985 (winners), 1987 (winners), 1989 (tied, retained), 1991, 1993, 1995 (winners)

Non-playing Captain in 1997 -- Valderrama, Spain (winners 14 1/4, 13 1/2)

Partnership with Jose Maria Olazbal: 11 wins and 2 halves from 13 matches (all-time record)

Individual record: 20 wins from 37 matches

OLAZBAL: We heard the news that he was in hospital. And obviously, things really changed that day.

TORRANCE: There was almost a sense of, that's what's been wrong.

OLAZBAL: Went to his house a couple of years ago to watch the Open. Every now and then, he would stand up and leave the room for five, ten minutes, do the exercises, come back. He kept on exercising really, really hard. His battle has been extraordinary.



NICK FALDO, NINE RYDER CUP APPEARANCES WITH SEVE: 88 when we played together that last day of the Open, and he was special that day. That was the best I've ever seen him. So I will remember that.

I will obviously remember the back of the 18th green at 95, him coming to me -- bawling, and setting me off. Here I go. So -- and a few chips. And a three on bunker shot.

ONTANON (through translator): He is a legend. We will never forget him. He will live on forever in this town.

TORRANCE: He brought zillions to the game because he made it fun. The iconic vision of him in 84 going around the green at St. Andrews, I'll never forget that.

GALLACHER: Oh, without question, he had genius. He could go for shots that nobody else would even think about, let alone try and play.

FALDO: A fine gentleman and a brilliant, brilliant competitor.

TORRANCE: It was the Cirque de Soleil of golf. He was the greatest show. I mean, he was -- he had everything.

SOTA: People that saw him play will never forget that.

TEXT: Severiano Ballesteros Sota, 1957-2011


O'DONOGHUE: Still to come, one-on-one with Rory McIlroy.


O'DONOGHUE: Would you back yourself for a major in 2012?

MCILROY: Yes, I would.



O'DONOGHUE: Welcome back to LIVING GOLF. So, as one season crowns its champions, the next, opening in South Africa and Hawaii, is just weeks away. Who will prove to be the stars of 2012?

In a moment, I'll be talking exclusively to one of the most widely tipped, the reigning US Open champion, Rory McIlroy. But first, let's get the thoughts of a few people who know a thing or two about this game.


HARMON: Who knows what's going to happen? If I had that crystal ball, you and I'd be right downtown in a casino making some bets right now.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE, EUROPE'S WINING RYDER CUP CAPTAIN, 2010: I think we'll have an Asian winner of a Major championship in 2012.

PHIL MICKELSON, WINNER OF FOUR MAJORS: It would be great to see Ryo Ishikawa, great young player from Japan, step up and win some big tournaments. He's very talented, and I think he will do that.

CLARKE: I think Martin Kaymer's due to come back. I know he's had a year where he's been tinkering with his swing a little bit.

MONTGOMERIE: You'd have to think of a Lee Westwood, a Luke Donald, to finally break through and actually win a Major championship the way that McDowell, McIlroy, Clarke have.

I think we'll find that new breed of American, that fearless American coming through.

HARMON: The Webb Simpsons, the Nick Watneys, the Dustin Johnsons. This is the future of US golf. These guys are really good players. They really don't have any fear. They play very aggressively if you watch them play. And they're fun to watch.

I would be very surprised if Dustin Johnson didn't win three, four, five Majors. I'll be very surprised if Nick Watney doesn't win some Majors.

MICKELSON: I know that the numbers say that I'm getting up there, but it doesn't feel that way.

HARMON: I think you're going to see Phil Mickelson win two or three more Majors. 2012 possibly could be Phil Mickelson's best year.

MICKELSON: Having played, now, for 20 years and competing in these Major championships for 20 years, I actually feel it's the Majors that I have the best opportunity to win.

HARMON: We're going to see Tiger Woods come back. He's Tiger woods, Shane. Come on. He's the greatest player, in my opinion, that's ever walked on this planet.

MICKELSON: I don't know if anybody ever will, certainly for decades to come, dominate the way Tiger has dominated the last 10, 12 years.

HARMON: These young kids weren't around in 2000 when he was beating everybody else. They don't care that he's Tiger Woods. They admire him and respect him for what he's done, but it's really right now, "Yeah, come on, Tiger, I want some of you. Bring it." And I think it's going to motivate Tiger, too.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): And assuming Tiger makes the American team, Europe's younger generation should get the chance to take him on in the season's outstanding highlight, the Ryder Cup, this September in Chicago.


MONTGOMERIE: There's no question, the Americans want it back again. They don't like losing on home soil.


O'DONOGHUE: Well, a player who seems a nailed down certainty for Europe's team and for a great 2012 is the reigning US Open champion, Rory McIlroy. I sat down with him here in Dubai.


MCILROY: I'm looking forward to hopefully having a chance to go up against him at some point next year in the final day of the tournament, and I'm sure a lot of the younger guys are, as well, because it's something that we've never been able to do before. It's new to us and it's a big challenge to see how we handle it and to pit ourselves against possibly the best-ever player to play the game.

O'DONOGHUE: And who in particular impresses you of the younger batch?

MCILROY: There's -- obviously, as you said, there's quite a few of us out there the likes of myself, Rickie Fowler. Jason Day. Jason Day's a guy who really impresses me.

I've played quite a lot of golf with him this year, and he's only 23 years old, and he's been second in two Majors this year and he's really cemented himself among the top players in the world this year, and I think he'll have a very good season next year.

O'DONOGHUE: Rory, there were a lot of changes, certainly in the last seven months. Your elevation to Major champion status, changing management company, new girlfriend. A lot has gone on. Can you put it into perspective?

MCILROY: Obviously, there's been a few changes in my life. But one of the biggest ones is becoming a Major champion and realizing the different pressures that that -- that comes with that new status.

But everything else, I'm in a very happy place in my life. I'm very happy with what's going on on the golf course. Obviously, I'm playing very well. I'm very happy with everything off the golf course.

O'DONOGHUE: Are you more settled, more content?

MCILROY: Yes, I'm very content. Yes, I'm happy with the team that I have around me, I'm happy with everything else that's going on.

O'DONOGHUE: Caroline is a huge profile. For you, is that a distraction, or is it a wonderful distraction?

MCILROY: We both lead very similar lifestyles. Yes, if I'm perfectly honest, Caroline's a very good influence on me. She's extremely hard- working. She puts 100 percent effort into her game and into her tennis, and it's nice to be able to share things with someone who really understands. And I've really enjoyed the time that I've spent with her over the past few months.

O'DONOGHUE: Would you back yourself for a Major in 2012?

MCILROY: Yes, I would. I mean, I'd be -- I'd be lying if I said I'd be -- if I wasn't disappointed if I ended 2012 without a Major championship. It's nice to have one Major, but then to get your second and to be able to call yourself a multiple Major champion would be something very special and something that I want to try and do next year.

O'DONOGHUE: The very best of luck in 2012, and thanks for joining us on LIVING GOLF, Rory.

MCILROY: No problem. Thank you.


O'DONOGHUE: Well, that's it for this edition of LIVING GOLF. Next month, we'll be reporting from North and South Africa, spending time with the three-times Major winner, Ernie Els, in his homeland.

In the meantime, all our reports are online, and you can keep across what we're up to on Twitter. Until we see you again in the new year, from all of us on the LIVING GOLF team here in Dubai, see you soon.