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Interview with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy

Aired November 8, 2012 - 00:05:30   ET


SHANE O'DONOGHUE, HOST: Tiger and Rory -- the two most gifted players of their generations, together on LIVING GOLF.

On this month's program, Tiger and Rory here in China.

RORY MCILROY, WORLD NUMBER ONE: You're on the fairway long enough, and, you know, you don't need enemies like that.

O'DONOGHUE: The story behind their trip to play for Turkey's millions and the return of Lorena Ochoa and a special report as the former world number one comes out of retirement.

LORENA OCHOA, WORLD NUMBER ONE, 2007-2010: I can't wait to get there and -- and take that first shot. I'm hoping it goes straight.

O'DONOGHUE: Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods -- indisputably the stars of our era. McIlroy, of course, grew up idolizing the older man and now they're locked in this fierce battle for major success, but with more than a hint of golfing romance thrown in for good measure.

In a world exclusive, we've just had the chance to sit down with the two of them together, as they went head-to-head in China.


O'DONOGHUE: It's great to see you both together. And I think this may be something of a first.

Can you describe the nature of this relationship between yourselves?

MCILROY: I think it sort of evolved since Abu Dhabi at the start of this year. I'd played with him before, but never really got a chance to speak to him, you know, in depth. And, you know, I think we have a lot of things in common. We're both, you know, huge sports fans and, you know, have a lot of things to talk about.

And I think just from there, you know, our -- our relationship is -- has evolved, because we've, you know, played with each other quite a lot this year. And, you know, it's been great for me to -- to get to know him and, you know, maybe try and, you know, pick up a few things and -- and learn a few things from him, too.

TIGER WOODS, WORLD NUMBER TWO: We have a lot in common. And, granted, there's a -- there's an age difference. But still, you know, I -- I had a huge age difference with my -- my other good friend, O'Meara (ph). But we had so much in common. And it was just easy to be around.

And I think we've -- well, certainly our -- our relationship will certainly grow in -- over -- over the years, but also, our competitiveness, I think -- I don't think that's going to change.

MCILROY: Tiger was a -- a huge hero of mine growing up literally all the way through, watching him do so many great things on TV.



MCILROY: Rory McIlroy.


MCILROY: Professional golfer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Specialist subject?

MCILROY: Tiger Woods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many majors has he won?

MCILROY: Fourteen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What age did he first appear on TV?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What year did Tiger turn pro?

MCILROY: 1996.


MCILROY: In the (INAUDIBLE), I'm getting a chance to compete against him is -- it's something that I always dreamed of. You get to spend time with him and -- and hang around with him. It's -- it's something that I find pretty cool. He transformed the -- the image of golf, you know. He made it a younger sport, you know, got younger people into -- I guess gave it a more athletic image, as well.

O'DONOGHUE: When you look at someone like Rory, you know, who's come on in the last five years, what do you see in particular that impresses you?

WOODS: Well, it's the athleticism. It's the confidence. It's going out there and -- and hitting shot for shot.

It -- it's fun to -- to play against somebody like that, who has a -- a lot of belief in their own ability and goes out there and -- and does it.

These guys are just so athletic and, you know, it's -- it's a new -- it's a new era in -- in our sport. And we're kind of like in a -- in a transition, you know, from when I first came out here, no one worked out. It was just me and BJ (ph). I'd see him -- we'd -- we'd be in the same gyms and it would only be us. That was it.

Now, it's -- you see everybody. That -- that's neat. It's neat to see someone of Rory's class, you know, take golf seriously and consider it a sport, not just an activity.

MCILROY: And you see other guys coming (INAUDIBLE), you know, like Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland. You know, there are a lot of guys that are so strong, so athletic, make really partial moves at the ball (ph). And, you know, if you want to beat them, you've got to try and, you know, match them or -- or better them in some way.

O'DONOGHUE: Just very quickly, the fact that we've got the two of you together here, as well, that's not something that we would have seen, say, five, 10 years ago. With you being the dominant player, we always had you on your own. It was a singular thing.

But is this a change in the way that the business is changing or a change in you, perhaps?

WOODS: Well, I think, we had that -- we had that feeling, it's just that we just didn't share it with -- with the public. You know -- you know, I got along pretty good with -- with some of the guys in my era that I've -- I've played against. But it was more just in the locker room. You know, and -- and us down the fairways that, you know, for some reason, Rory and I are -- have become really good friends and we'll continue to be that way.

And, you know, it's actually pretty funny that you say that, because I talked to -- to Jack about it. And Jack and Arnold didn't like each other at the very gate -- at the very get go. They just didn't see eye-to-eye. But, also, now they're the best of friends.

O'DONOGHUE: Yes, Nick Faldo was talking recently, as well, in commentary that it wasn't done in his day or his whole methodology was to keep it to himself and to be a little bit aloof, that he didn't handle, sort of, relationships, and that that fed into his performance, he said.


MCILROY: I mean for me, I...


MCILROY: -- you're on the fairway long enough and, you know, you don't need enemies like that. You know, you want to -- you want to have friends. You know, sometimes life on tour can get, you know, a little bit lonely at times. And, you know, you want to have guys that you can go out for dinner with and you can, you know, have a laugh with in the locker room and, you know, you're right there for, you know, 25 weeks a year, so you may as well make it fun.

So yes, I mean, you know, if that's what worked for Faldo, then -- then great. It -- it obviously worked for him really well. But I don't think that would be something that would work for me.

O'DONOGHUE: To summarize the year, how do you, in your own words, categorize what's happened in 2012?

MCILROY: I think this year has been a great year for me. I think any time you win a major championship, you've got to call it a -- you know, a great year.

You know, I won three other times and I had a little bit of a, you know, mini slump in the summer, right. I didn't play well for a few tournaments. But, you know, that happens.

O'DONOGHUE: How do you asses it, Tiger?

WOODS: As Rory said when he mentioned the champion, it makes it a -- a great year. And I think I've had a really, really good year, winning three times and obviously not winning for -- for a while and being hurt for such a long time, to come back in when there was a lot of people that said I would never win again, and then to win three times this year and to pass Jack in the all time win list at the age of 36, I think -- I think that's pretty cool.

O'DONOGHUE: You talked briefly there about people writing you off.

I mean do you -- do you read what (INAUDIBLE)?

WOODS: I didn't have to read it, because I -- like at every press conference I go to, I get hammered. Well, you're never going to win again, blah, blah, blah.

And it was every tournament that I went to.

So, it was -- it was a lot there for a number of years -- a number -- well, about a year-and-a-half where I had to answer that question every single round, after every single round, at every term and pre-term. And -- and you had to do that a -- a lot and then to, as I said, to pass Jack in the all time win list this year and -- and then do it 10 years younger than him, I think that's a pretty neat accomplishment.

O'DONOGHUE: You've obviously got off to such a flair as a kid turning pro with, you know, multiple major wins. Rory is now doing that. You know, you're in this, Tiger and Jack sort of Rory conversation at that moment. And obviously, Rory has got that potential.

Do you see him in -- in that league?

And what do you see in Rory's potential?

WOODS: Absolutely. Absolutely. He has the potential to win countless more major championships and many terms, not just in the States, but he's a -- he's a global player and is only going to get better. The high side is so high and he's already accomplished so much at an early age, that, you know, it will be fun for me as -- as a competitor, to go against him as -- as he is getting better.

O'DONOGHUE: And Tiger, with the whole emphasis on Jack's 18, it's the question that has to be asked every time, but do you still see it as a realistic goal to surpass 18?

WOODS: Absolutely. And don't forget, it -- it took him to 46...


WOODS: -- you know, so, you know, with the fitness regime and -- and staying -- eating properly and staying -- staying in shape, I can play for a very long time. So, I'm looking forward to that opportunity. You know, if you say, hypothetically, 10 years, that's 40 more Major championships I get a chance to complain -- compete in and -- and try and win.

You know, hopefully, I can, you know, at least win five of those.

O'DONOGHUE: Rory, look, when you consider Tiger's career and you consider where you are at now as world number one at this stage, at 23 years of age, what concerns you most?

Is it injuries?

Is it scrutiny?

MCILROY: I think one of the biggest things for me is longevity. You know, I'm -- I'm 23 years old. I've still got -- I've got a lot of years ahead of me. And I just don't want to -- I just don't want to be burnt out. I don't want to -- I don't want to get to the stage where I'm 30 years old or 35 years old and, you know, I'm -- I don't want to say fed up with the game, but, you know, it's a long time to be playing a sport. And I just want to pace myself.

O'DONOGHUE: You've had to deal with so much scrutiny, being the dominant figure for -- for so long.

What advice do you have for -- for Rory at this stage, Tiger?

WOODS: I absolutely like what he just said, is pacing yourself. Everyone is going to be trying to bring you to their event, deter you away from time that's spent to -- in practicing.

How did -- how did you get there?

You didn't sit there by sitting on your butt the entire time. You got there by -- by working hard and doing all the things you needed to do to prepare.

And people are going to be taking -- trying to take you away from that. Some guys just show up and they just try and practice for the week and, you know, build theirselves into it.

I -- I consider that -- that totally B.S. I would much rather practice at home and be ready. When I go to an event, it's to win, period.

O'DONOGHUE: Well, you' both got a long way to go in the game.

It's a pleasure having you both on LIVING GOLF.

And let's hope for some many battles down the way, as well.

WOODS: You've got it.

MCILROY: Thanks, man.

O'DONOGHUE: Thank you.

Thanks, Tiger.

Thanks, Rory.


O'DONOGHUE: Still to come, Tiger, Rory and the story of Turkey's millions.


O'DONOGHUE: Welcome back to LIVING GOLF.

Now, here in Turkey, something highly unusual just happened. Eight of the top players in the world came here, escaping their European and American tours, to play each other for bucket loads of cash.

What just happened?

And is this just part of the future for the men's professional game?

(voice-over): Eight of the world's top players, the first prize of $1.5 million and Rory and Tiger head-to-head for the first time -- Turkey sure knew how to put on a show.

JOHN HUGGAN, "GOLF DIGEST": That's big box, obviously. I mean that's the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in golf, isn't it?

I mean the top two players in the world going at it head-to-head, I mean that's what people want to see.

WOODS: Rory really doesn't -- doesn't want to lose to me and I don't want to lose to him. We understand it's an exhibition, but still, you know, we're -- we're going to be going at it.

CHUBBY CHANDLER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ISM: It's got to be a big money tournament if he's going to represent the top eight players in the world, because to get them there in the first place has got to be a lot of money.

O'DONOGHUE: And this tournament certainly wasn't short on cash. With $1.5 million to the winner and a consolatory $300,000 for last place, there were plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

But beyond this, the real drive behind the gathering of the golfing glitterati was Turkey's sporting ambition.

CHANDLER: At the end of the day, make no mistake -- this is showcased for Turkey, for the Olympics. For a good -- for a nation that doesn't play golf, you know, it's a big deal. And if you talk to the Turkish people, the whole idea is to get somebody in the top 300 in the world by 2015, to get in the Olympics.

AHMET AGAOGLU, PRESIDENT, TURKISH GOLD FEDERATION: Golf is very useful to Turkey. It just started in 1996, but it's one of the fastest growing sports. And, as you know, in 2016, only the professional golfers and most probably the top 100, will play in -- in Rio in 2016. That's another target.

O'DONOGHUE: Central to the subject, too, is a certain Tiger Woods, proving that even in a field of this caliber, he's still the main man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, a warm welcome for Tiger Woods.

CHANDLER: If you've got Tiger Woods in the field, to be honest with you, it doesn't really matter who else you've got. He's -- he's the number one draw in the game.

AGAOGLU: In a country like Turkey, it makes a difference almost 200 percent, bringing him here to Turkey will take the attention of local people as well as the other people and the whole world watching in 50 countries (INAUDIBLE).

O'DONOGHUE: But getting Tiger here proved only half the battle. Securing seven other top players during a week that conflicted with the European and PGA Tours was another matter altogether.

HUNTER MAHAN, PGA TOUR: They weren't very excited. They were very happy with us, which is unfortunate, because I think this is -- this is a part of the game and this is a part of the way it is. It's a global game now and this isn't just playing in the United States, you know, for most of the year. This is a game that we can travel and we can explore our options and explore our income and expand our brand. And, you know, we have an opportunity to come to Turkey and play -- and play in a field like this, playing with some -- some of the best players in the world.

You know, I think we should have the say in -- the final say in what we get to do.

HUGGAN: The tours like to be not quite dictatorships, but there are some part -- something close to that. And the last thing they need is the -- the star names disappearing off to far flung climes to play golf in events that they have no say in, if you like.

O'DONOGHUE: But this isn't to say the tours have lost out entirely. Next year, the first Turkish Open will be staged as the penultimate event of the 2013 season, a welcome addition at a time when mainland European Tour events are struggling to keep above the tide of the economic crisis.

MIGUEL VIDAOR, TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR, EUROPEAN TOUR: That's superb news, that we can -- we can have new tournaments in a new emerging country like -- like Turkey, with a -- with such wonderful facilities.

O'DONOGHUE: So what lasting impact will there be on this country's sporting ambitions, given that Turkey has virtually no history in golf?

Well, this can't hurt. All eight players giving of their time to impart a lot of their knowledge to some of the country's top young golfing talents and potential Olympians.

LEE WESTWOOD, WORLD NUMBER FOUR: You can tell that (INAUDIBLE) a good coach because, you know, technically, they're very sound. They strike the ball really well. And most importantly, they -- they look really keen.

I wasn't completely for golf being included in the Olympics, but now I'm, you know, coming to countries where, you know, golf probably wouldn't get to if it weren't for the Olympics. You know, it makes me appreciate what the Olympics can do for a sport, you know.

Golf, you know, it goes into so many coun -- countries that were untapped before. You know, it's certainly made people more aware of the game of golf since it's been included in the Olympics.

O'DONOGHUE: At the end of the week, it may have been the players who left enriched by Turkey's match play millions, but if this experiment has put the country on the golf and Olympic map, the next generation may consider it money well spent.


O'DONOGHUE: Still to come on LIVING GOLF, on tour with Ochoa -- the former world number one comes out of retirement.


O'DONOGHUE: Welcome back to LIVING GOLF.

Now, only the very special few, like Tiger and Rory, make it to world number one. Virtually no one who makes it there, wins Majors, dominates the game then retires at 28.

But that is what Lorena Ochoa did back in 2010.

Four weeks ago, she came back to take on today's stars at the French Open.


And how did she fare?

We spent a week with her getting a unique insight into one of the greats of the women's game.


O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Deep in the Basque country, Lorena is back. And like old times, it starts with a pro (INAUDIBLE). Alongside her, Catherine Lacoste, the winner of the U.S. Open in 1967.

CATHERINE LACOSTE, THE ONLY AMATEUR TO WIN THE U.S. OPEN (1967): She is playing very, very well, just a little bit of accuracy was missing, which I'm sure would be cured very shortly. It's a wonderful, wonderful thing to see her.

O'DONOGHUE: And Madame Lacoste is the clue to why Lorena has chosen France for her return. The family firm sponsors both this tournament and Lorena.

The next morning, and Lorena is just a short time away from her tour comeback. A lot has changed for her in the two-and-a-half years since she stepped away from being world number one.

OCHOA: Competition, of course, that means maybe winning, you know, and that means traveling, you know, to some beautiful places and some of my friends. But at the same time, it's a package. You know, you cannot only go and -- and do the good things. You know, you can't -- it's impossible. You have to travel. You know, it's to travel more than 50 weeks a year, practice 10 hours, you know, a day. And then now, you know, I don't need that at all.


OCHOA: I feel so much in peace, you know. And I feel so happy at home.

When I'm able to bring Pedro now and see everything, you know, from behind and put it in perspective, you know, and -- and this is my life. Last night at 1:30 in the morning, you know, Pedro couldn't sleep, you know, and he was with a little pain. You know, he was crying.

I said, OK, you know, I'm happy to be here helping Pedro (INAUDIBLE) to where I'm going to feel the best or 100 percent. But that's my new life.

I can't wait to -- to get there and -- and hit that first shot. Hopefully it goes straight.

O'DONOGHUE: Predictably, Lorena's short game lets her down at times, but after an edgy start, she shoots a 69 in her first round back. Impressive stuff.

OCHOA: I am happy. I'm relieved to get (INAUDIBLE) out and play OK. I think you always (INAUDIBLE) is always good. So I'm happy with that last birdie. You know, it made my afternoon better. And I'm -- I'm going to get ready for tomorrow.

ANNE-LISE CAUDAL, FRENCH NUMBER TWO: So it's great. It was good to - - like a dream to play -- play with Lorena. And she made some shorts, but she's always there, always. She's (INAUDIBLE) -- it's never a big mistake.

O'DONOGHUE: On Friday, the pups still won't drop, but she's safely through the cut.


O'DONOGHUE: And on Saturday, she shoots the best round of her week so far, a 68, to put her back in the top 20.

OCHOA: Well, for sure, it was a -- a better day today. And I'm really happy to -- to say that. I'm finally under par. I think it's the way I wanted to finish, playing a good back nine.

O'DONOGHUE: But first, some time with Pedro. These days, even on the road, Lorena can relax with her family -- at least until duty calls again for the star attraction, with another interview.

OCHOA: And then it was a perfect time for me to (INAUDIBLE) family and more...

O'DONOGHUE: And then a clinic for the local children.


OCHOA: I woke up today with a -- a good feeling. Hopefully, you know, everything will happen today and we can make a lot of birdies and I can make a ground and go home with good memories from the tournament.

O'DONOGHUE: In the end, it's a level par 70 and she finishes just outside the top 20. No miracle this week, but Lorena has shown again the class is permanent.

Then one last official appears, alongside the new European hero from down the road.

STACEY KEATING, WINNER, OPEN DE FRANCE 2012: Ten years ago, I think it was just my dream in golf to meet Lorena Ochoa. So to be standing up here right now is pretty unbelievable for me, so.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL, EUROPEAN RYDER CUP CAPTAIN, 2012: Yes, obviously, she's busy being a mom and I don't think she's going to be play -- so he's going to come back to play ball. But it was nice to see her, yes.

O'DONOGHUE: And then Lorena is gone. But before heading back to Mexico, a brief family outing to the beach at Biarritz -- time to reflect on a rare few days when her old and new lives came together.

OCHOA: I realized that it was tough. You know, it was tougher, probably, than -- than what I -- what I thought. But I understand now that I play golf for exhibition. I play golf in a more relaxed way, in a more fun way. So probably this is going to be one of my -- my last events, for sure.

O'DONOGHUE: Her life is now busy with her family, her foundation for poor children in Guadalajara, a book and helping Mexican players prepare for the Rio Olympics.

But could she, one day, regret giving up the professional game?

OCHOA: I mean every time I see Pedro, my kids, you know, how can I regret?

When you are a woman, you know, and play for so long and you're 27 and 29 and 30, 35, and then you want to have a kid and you want to start a family, but you don't do anything about it, because you are traveling, you know, 50 weeks a year and you live in a suitcase and you're already 37, you know, I didn't want that to happen to me.

I -- I wanted to be remembered for the things that I did outside the golf course. And now I have so many more dreams ahead of me.


O'DONOGHUE: The remarkable Lorena Ochoa.

Well, that's it for this edition of LIVING GOLF.

Don't forget, all our reports are online and you can keep across of what we're up to on the Twitter.

But for now, from the latest stop on the Tiger and Rory road show, it's good-bye.