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Golf Legend Nick Price Ready for Presidents Cup Battle; Ryder Cup: Tom Watson Wants End to Captain's Picks

Aired October 3, 2013 - 05:30:00   ET


SHANE O'DONOGHUE, CNN HOST: It's the Presidents Cup, the United States versus the Internationals. Welcome to LIVING GOLF.


O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): This month on LIVING GOLF, International captain Nick Price.

NICK PRICE, INTERNATIONAL CAPT, 2013 PRESIDENTS CUP: I've been fortunate to have been on the winning side that one time, which I'll never forget.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Tiger and Turkey's millions. Tom Watson, one year to the Ryder Cup.

TOM WATSON, AMERICAN CAPT, 2014 RYDER CUP: Every time the Ryder Cup was played, I was glued to the tube and have been disappointed way too many times.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): And going Bubba Short (ph) with one of the stars of American golf.

O'DONOGHUE: Now it's true that the Presidents Cup does not have the same history as the Ryder Cup. But the main problem for the Internationals is that the history that it has is against them.

So can the Presidents Cup ever match the competitive edge of its illustrious older brother?

The Internationals have won only once at Royal Melbourne in 1998. Since then, with the exception of a tie in South Africa, it's been completely U.S. dominance. So any chance of it becoming more competitive?

MATT KUCHAR, AMERICAN TEAM, 2013 PRESIDENTS CUP: You're probably asking the wrong guy. I think anybody that's on the American team would like to continue the American domination. It seems to be great support. I've only played in one. This would be my second one.

But we were down in Australia; it didn't seem to lack in any sort of support by the Australians and then the crowd support was great down there.

CHARL SCHWARTZEL, INTERNATIONAL TEAM, 2013 PRESIDENTS CUP: I feel like it needs to come down to the last day, be really tight and some spectacular finish in the International side to win. You know, to really - - to really give this thing a bit of a boost like the Ryder Cup gets, you know.

The Ryder Cup was also very dull for a long time and then it started becoming much more exciting with exciting finishes. So it just what the Presidents Cup needs. And it's up to us to deliver.

TIGER WOODS, WORLD NUMBER ONE: The Presidents Cup is different than the Ryder Cup in which player must play every day. So if you're one of the top -- where you're one of the top guys, you're playing four matches guaranteed. And that has always suited us because we've always had very deep teams.

O'DONOGHUE: Well, we came to the home club of the International captain Nick Price here in Florida as he finalized his team to take on the might of the United States.


O'DONOGHUE: Nick, congratulations on becoming captain. I know that you had a long and storied career. But what does it mean to you to be captain on the International side?

PRICE: Well, you know, it goes back really to the first one I played in in 1994, when I thought, well, hopefully one day I'm going to be captain. David Graham (ph) was the captain that year and I was number one in the world.

So he and I spent a lot of time together, looking at the pairings. And he used me as a sounding board and I tried to help him because it was the first one -- first-time event. And neither of us had ever been in that situation.

But I can remember thinking to myself, one day I hope I'm captain.

O'DONOGHUE: How desperately do you feel the need for a victory, though? You know, given the history of the event (inaudible) staging (inaudible)?


PRICE: I think this is a very key Presidents Cup not only for the International team; we're 1-7 and won but also for the -- for the Cup itself. You know, I think interest is flagging a little bit over the last couple of years, maybe amongst the players and also amongst the spectators.

I mean, we're not revered. This is the problem that we have, is that as an international team, we're not revered as a great match playing team.

And part of that, as far as I'm concerned, is the point structure of the whole thing. I think the Presidents Cup had the point structure of the Ryder Cup, it would be a lot more (inaudible) contested.


PRICE: Last year I tried to get something changed; I tried to get the point structure changed to be more in line with the Ryder Cup. Ernie (ph) and I went to see the commissioner.

They didn't feel it was necessary; we felt it really was to take it to the next level and to make it more competitive. But anyway, you know, we're going to play the whole point system this year and we're going to get on with it. I'm not going to cry over what could have been.

O'DONOGHUE: Do you feel that apathy amongst some of those players?

PRICE: I did last year when I first went to meet them, after I was announced as captain. And that was one of the things that got me to look a little more deeply into the -- what's the difference. And I did a comparison between the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup.

Nobody bothered about the Ryder Cup until 1981 or '83, because it was a whitewash.

Now become one of the greatest sporting events on golf, sporting events of the year.

These guys are giving up a week of their lives to play where they could be playing in other parts of the world, getting nice, big appearance fees. But they choose to come and play in this event.

But it's a wonderful event, honestly. And I've been fortunate to have been on the winning side that one time, which was -- I'll never forget it.

O'DONOGHUE: I'm curious to know what it's like being Nick Price.

Do you enjoy your life?

PRICE: Yes. I mean, first of all, I'm so grateful to my family for instilling values in me at an early age that I've carried with me throughout this time. We lost our father; I lost my father when I was 10 years old. And you know, sometimes that has an adverse effect on a family. But for us, it brought us very close together.

And then I think when I look at my schooling, the fact that I went to the military for a year and a half, what was going on in Rhodesia as it was then with the war, all those things kind of shape you.

When you think of where I come from and how I started playing golf and, you know, I'd drive down my driveway and I have to pinch myself every now and then, you know, because this is my life.

O'DONOGHUE: And America's been good to you?

PRICE: I could never repay this country for what it's given me. I get sometimes more recognized over here than I do in my home country, which is kind of sad to many. I get more awards and everything given to me in this country than I did in my own country, which hurts a lot.

But obviously what's happened in the country over the last 33 years is not what we all expected.

O'DONOGHUE: So the country's been very good to you, but you still want to thrash them at the Presidents Cup?



PRICE: You know, it's funny when you say that. You know, and this is a state of mind, again, you know, and I'm a big one for confrontation, sure. But I keep telling the guys, let's go and win this cup. You're going to be playing against guys who are your friends that you play against week in and week out on the tour.

These are guys they have lunch with, have breakfast with and that.

I don't want to see them just become enemies for one week. What I want to see is great competition. I want to see them go out there and obviously want to beat each other, but to beat the (inaudible).

O'DONOGHUE: My final question is Ben Hogan said to Ken Venturi (ph) in an interview late in his life, "I miss tournament play."

Do you miss that (inaudible)?


PRICE: Very much. Very much so.

To me, there was nothing more exciting than getting in that back nine (ph) on Sunday and getting the bit between your teeth and you know, shooting 32, 31 or whatever it was, winning a tournament or coming from 20th into 3rd place.

You walked off the green, signed your card and you had this -- I didn't mess up. I just played great that last nine holes.


O'DONOGHUE: Nick, it's been a great pleasure (inaudible). The very best of luck in the Presidents Cup.

PRICE: Thanks.

O'DONOGHUE: May you march towards victory.

PRICE: I hope so. Thanks. Thanks a lot.


O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Still to come on LIVING GOLF, Tiger and Turkey, the new frontier.

And short game tips with Bubba Watson.





O'DONOGHUE: In a few weeks' time, far from the venue for next year's Ryder Cup, the European Tour will be breaking new ground. It'll be staging the first-ever Turkish Open, featuring many of today's top tour stars, including a certain Tiger Woods.



O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Ships in the Bosphorus, waiting their turn to pass through Istanbul. The city, as they love to remind you hear, that spans between Europe and Asia, east and west.

Next month, Tiger Woods will be hitting a ball of the Bosphorus Bridge. Of course, Tiger was in Turkey 12 months ago, playing with Rory and six others in a big money match play.

This year, he'll be playing in the Turkish Airlines open, the first- ever European Tour event to be staged in the country. A tournament with the full weight of the Turkish government behind it.

OMER CELIK, MINISTER OF CULTURE AND TOURISM, TURKEY (through translator): This is a very important event. Organizing events such as this one is no doubt going to contribute to the brand value of Turkey.

In addition to demonstrate the importance we have attached to this event, this is going to be the event that will receive the highest amount of contribution from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism ever.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): The government also owns 49 percent of Turkish Airlines, the title sponsor. At their Istanbul headquarters they train pilots for their rapidly expanding network.

They've already sponsored some of the biggest brands in sport.

But why specifically switch at least $10 million into golf, Tiger and all?

TEMEL KOTIL, CEO, TURKISH AIRLINES: We know that it's very common in the certain part of the world, not all around the world, but we interest all around the world. So we approaching the people with the different tastes, different understanding, different language. So golf is the one of the language there actually.

This year, we already use $10 billion. By 2020, it will be $20 billion. And with that from the $1.8 billion. So it's growing like hell (ph), you know. This very nice one. I mean, remember this one, we're making profit. So this way we need to spend it.

O'DONOGHUE: An hour's flight south of Istanbul lies Antalya and Turkey's Gulf Coast around the town of Belek (ph). The first course here wasn't built until 1994. In under 20 years, Turkey has gone from nowhere to 4th most popular destination in the world for golf tourists.

Now at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course, they're preparing to stage not just a full European Tour event, but one of the big final four tournaments of the season. Prize money: $7 million.

AHMET AGAOGLU, PRESIDENT, TURKISH GOLF FEDERATION: As you know, this tournament is going to (inaudible) it's over 55 countries all around the world. If you are going to look from advertising value of this tournament, it's huge.

I mean, you cannot -- you cannot compare any other sport (inaudible) which was done before in the country.

So that will make good advertisements of our golf courses, our climate and our festivities. It will make a really big impact.

O'DONOGHUE: He signed a three-year contract with the European Tour, beyond showcasing Turkey and Turkish golf, he also sees a developing talent there.

AGAOGLU: This year we will have two players in the -- in this round. (Inaudible) push the European Tour to put three of our players for 2014 and '15, because last two years are (inaudible), for 2016 Rio Olympics are one of our main targets.

That's a supportive (ph) target, to put one of our players or to send one of our players for Rio for 2016 Olympics.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): More immediately, they have just a few more weeks to get a tourist course ready for Tiger and some of the other best players in the world.

BENJAMIN LOVETT, COURSE MANAGER, THE MONTGOMERIE MAXX ROYAL GC: The biggest challenge at the moment, the greens, (inaudible) working on the last few days with the European Tour to try and get them from where we'd be happy with them as a resort up to tournament level, which is working on the firmness and the speed of the greens.

We're trying to stretch it out. We've come through the season with too much grass, which is a blessing, in a way. You see the greens have got lots of lovely movement, so (inaudible) are great.

O'DONOGHUE: And so next month, a country with only 6,000 registered players will stage one of the richest events on the European Tour. It's a symbol of where Turkey is as an economic power and where it wants to be as a golfing nation.

CELIK (through translator): Let me give you an anecdote to help express our aspirations. When Napoleon wanted to become king he was asked if there were any nobles in his family.

He answered, "The royal line starts here."


O'DONOGHUE: Now one of the biggest characters in the American scene in undoubtedly Bubba Watson. And we all know that he's Bubba Long (ph). But you don't get to win a Masters title without having a pretty dynamite short game, too.


O'DONOGHUE: It's absolutely crucial to have a good short game, certainly at this elite level on the long side, Bubba Watson, 2012 Masters champion.

And you've got greater imagination than most. So we're presenting you with a challenge, Bubba, of three shots played three different ways from 60 yards. You up for it?

BUBBA WATSON: Yes. Let's see what we can do.

O'DONOGHUE: What are you thinking for this first one?

BUBBA WATSON: First one, let's go a little higher. Just -- it's 60 yards, try to hit a little bit higher, playing it softer on the green, hopefully will have a little spin to it.


BUBBA WATSON: So this first shot, 60 yards, 64-degree, what we're going to do is hit a little higher. So what I'm going to do, I'm going to open the club face, even though it's 64 degrees, I'm going to open it up.


O'DONOGHUE: Not bad.

BUBBA WATSON: That was all right, yes.

O'DONOGHUE: That was a straightforward kind of lob shot, really.

BUBBA WATSON: Yes, that was just a normal shot from 60 yards, just hit it in there, trying to spin it.

O'DONOGHUE: People talk about muscle memory.

Do you have a certain feel for that kind of length and that distance?

BUBBA WATSON: Yes, you hit those shots many times in practice, playing with your buddies, playing in tournaments. So you just get used to the speed of the club head and open the club head a little bit and hit a little bit higher. So like this next shot, we'll hit it in there a little lower. We'll land it short of the green and skip it up there. (Inaudible) with a 64-degree.

O'DONOGHUE: All right.

BUBBA WATSON: We're going to put the ball back in our stance and at impact, we want to come down on it and just hit it low. What we're trying to do here is land it short of the green, usually about two skips and then it bounces up on the green.


O'DONOGHUE: Yes, sir.

BUBBA WATSON: Pretty good. Not bad.

So it's this same club; it's just a different technique but it's the same club, 64 degrees, first one went really high with some spin. Second one landed short of the green, just hit it, punch down on it so it goes a little lower and scoots up the grass.

O'DONOGHUE: And you play that way back in your stance, didn't you?

BUBBA WATSON: Played it way back in my stance so I could hit down on it and hopefully it scoots up like it did.

O'DONOGHUE: OK. So what are you going to do here?

BUBBA WATSON: This last shot, the first one was really high. The second one was really low and skipping in there. We're going to try to land this third shot right on the front of the green at medium height. The ball's not quite back all the way in your stance.


O'DONOGHUE: You're the man, Bubba.

BUBBA WATSON: Easy as that.

You know, from this distance, you don't really have -- you can't move it left or right or right to left. You've got to hit -- it's all about the elevation, you know, how low you want to hit, how much you want to run it, how high you want to hit it, how much spin you want to put on it.

O'DONOGHUE: Is it because of all the practice and play you don't really complicate it? It's a very simple stroke, really, is it?

BUBBA WATSON: Yes, the game is very simple. It's our minds that mess it up.

O'DONOGHUE: Let's bring in Justin from TrackMan to get some stats and give us an indication as to what kind of spin you were putting on those shots.

JUSTIN PADJEN, TRACKMAN: So if we look at some of the shots here, you talked about the elevation, the height you were trying to hit it. Now the first one went about 40 feet in the air. The second one was about 12 feet in the air and then the last one was about 21, right in the middle of the two. So exactly what you were trying to do.

O'DONOGHUE: Lots of spin?

PADJEN: Yes, lots of spin, the first one almost 10,000 RPMs. So the other two were around 7,000.

O'DONOGHUE: And is that 64-degree loft really help with so much extra spin?

BUBBA WATSON: Yes. You know, like the first one, the higher the shot, the more I got under it, it created a spin. If you saw it on the replay there, it landed, bounced up and then backed up. So it created a lot of spin for me.

O'DONOGHUE: Not a lot of players play 64-degree but why do you like it?

BUBBA WATSON: I hit it inside of 100 yards. I hit it everywhere. So I hit bump and runs with it; I hit bunker shots with it. I hit the little lob shots with it. For me, it's all about feel. I want to learn one club with all the shots.

O'DONOGHUE: Great imagination, really good execution, the one and only Bubba Watson.


BUBBA WATSON: Oh, yes! (Inaudible). (Inaudible), boys.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Still to come, Tom Watson, one year to Gleneagles.

TOM WATSON: Watching American play go up and it never left. The time that I really figured, you know, this is something different.




O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): The first matches were played here in 1921 between the professionals from Britain and the United States. But it wasn't the Ryder Cup until 1927, when that trophy was presented by a seed merchant from London called Samuel Ryder, and this is the very trophy that the best of Europe and America will be playing for quite intensely in September of 2014.

With a year to go, both captains came here to Scotland and arrived here at this magnificent venue in quite a unique way.

It was more Harry Potter than Tiger Woods, but celebrating one year to the Ryder Cup, the destination was Gleneagles, not Hogwarts. For the U.S. captain, a reacquaintance with the historic contest he first played in 36 years ago.

TOM WATSON: It was a day much like today. It was overcast and the wind was blowing almost -- it was raining a little bit at Merlin and St. Ann's (ph) and you know, at the opening ceremonies with Del Finsterwald (ph) gave that -- you know, he had impassioned speeches as the captain of the U.S. team.

And then watching the flags go up and watching the American flag go up. I remember that as the time that I really figured, you know, this is something different, watching that flag. I'm playing for my country and I'm playing for my fellow players on this team. And now it's real. It's real, watching that flag go up. And that was a -- that was a real poignant moment in my career right there.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): The two captains insist this competition is as much about the future as the past, even playing alongside juniors from across Scotland.

A year away from the biggest match in golf, it's still all smiles. But the edge of competition is already there.

TOM WATSON: Tiger Woods has had the most remarkable career probably of any professional golfer in history of the game. And to have him on your team is like when I played on the Ryder Cup, I stood on the tee several times; now on the tee, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. And you don't think that was kind of a whew moment? God, I got Jack Nicklaus on my 6.



O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Perhaps, though, Watson himself is the most feared member of either side, a gentleman but also a ruthless competitor and adored in Scotland after winning four of his open championships there.

TOM WATSON: Well, frankly, I didn't put my name in the hat. Their call came from Ted Bishop (ph), the incoming president of the PGA, and I welcomed the call. I was hoping I was going to get the call and I didn't lobby for it at all. It just -- it happened in a -- and I'm certainly glad it did.

O'DONOGHUE: Was it hurting you that there wasn't as much as success in the Ryder Cup over the last decade or so?


O'DONOGHUE: You had been accustomed --

TOM WATSON: I'm a homer. I want our team to win. Every time the Ryder Cup was played, I was glued to the tube. And had been disappointed way too many times.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): And that desire to get one up was evident again, as he challenged his opposite to change the selection system for Ryder Cup teams.

TOM WATSON: If you really look at it, the purest form of Ryder Cup would be no picks, no captain's picks. I reduced my pick this year from -- my picks from four to three and I was thinking actually two because I wanted the players to -- who are playing to get on the Ryder Cup team, to have that as a goal.

And if they got there, then they've earned something very, very special. And maybe we should go back to no picks.

What do you think about that, Paul?

MCGINLEY: Different dynamic on the European side when we have so many players playing at a PGA tour. So let's defer that one, thank you.


O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): It promises to be a contest worthy of the spiritual home of the Ryder Cup.

TOM WATSON: We know there's going to be an edge. We know that, as Paul said, he's going to go in his corner, I'm going to go in my corner as managers of these teams and try everything possible to create a winning atmosphere and let the actors go out and win it for us. The way we'll handle it is the important thing.

And golf is that type of game. It requires -- it requires respect. And you lose, you have respect for the person who beat you. When you win, you know you have respect for the people you beat. And these players of today played against each other for years.

And so they're familiar with each other. They're friends. But then they go on each side and they pull in each other's corner. They draw the line right there. And that's what makes this event so wonderful is that it -- at the end, it comes out and, yes, there's a winner and a loser, but the guys go back and being friends again.

O'DONOGHUE: Well, that's it for this month's edition. Don't forget, you can keep across what we're up to on Twitter and all our reports are online. But for now, from all of us here on the LIVING GOLF team in the Sunshine State of Florida, goodbye.