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All Access in Augusta. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 11, 2015 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:13] RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Greetings from Augusta National, home of the Masters. This tournament has become an American institution, played on one of the most exclusive patches of grass in the sporting world. And today you'll get a peek behind the scenes with an "All Access" look at the course and the people that make it all so iconic.


NICHOLS: In the cathedral of golf, the world's greatest players are tested. Tiger Woods trying to recapture the magic and confidence he used to wear like a green jacket. Rory McIlroy feeling the weight of expectation as he goes for the career grand slam. Bubba Watson playing it cool as he chases a rare repeat championship.

If you can win your third Masters title, have you thought about the company that puts you?

BUBBA WATSON, TWO-TIME MASTERS CHAMPION: No, I have not. I don't know what company I'm in now winning two.

NICHOLS: But it's the rising star Jordan Spieth charging to the top of the leader board. The 21-year-old trying to capture his first major at the place where time stands still and legends revered.

ARNOLD PALMER, FOUR-TIME MASTERS CHAMPION: Augusta is Augusta. And it's a thrill just to drive down Magnolia Lane.

NICHOLS: This is "All Access at Augusta," a CNN Bleacher Report special.


NICHOLS: Hello, I'm Rachel Nichols. We are in the perfect spot here at Augusta sitting just off the first fairway. I am joined by Shane O'Donoghue, host of CNN International's "Living Golf," and Mike Rosenberg, senior writer at "Sports Illustrated."

And guys, we know leads evaporate very quickly here. There's still a lot of golf to be played. But, hey, we have got to start talking about the 21-year-old Jordan Spieth. He's just stealing all the headlines. He sits on top the leader board, and he tees off in just about 20 minutes. He's going to be trying to build on what's already a record-setting performance. Yesterday Spieth ended the second round with the lowest 36 hole score in the Masters 79-year history. Mike, what are we witnessing here?

MICHAEL ROSENBERG, SENIOR WRITER, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: I don't want to overhype it, but yesterday I saw him walk across Ray's Creek, and he didn't even use the bridge, OK?


ROSENBERG: Look, this is a guy, he's 21. He finished second in the Masters last year. Everybody on tour knows he's going to win majors. He made a statement he plans to do it this weekend. And it sure looks like it, doesn't it?

NICHOLS: Absolutely. Shane, you spent time with Jordan Spieth earlier this year. Tell us a little bit about what he's like off the course. What's important to him?

SHANE O'DONOGHUE, CNN HOST, "LIVING GOLF": Family, clearly, and, you know, expression in Ireland you have them the way you wear them, and these parents have done a great job with three kids. One of these siblings has special needs, so he has, you know, had to grow up very quickly in that house dealing with that. His sister is very special to him and he spoke very lovingly of her when we caught up.


JORDAN SPIETH, LEADS MASTERS AFTER TWO ROUNDS: My sister's the best thing that ever happened to our family, and she's, gosh, she's so much fun. I miss her when I'm on the road. I look forward to getting back to her. And, you know, she loves golf. She does not understand it. She always asks if I won, and if I didn't, she's bummed.


NICHOLS: That's very sweet. As much attention and Spieth has captured, there are still of course a few huge galleries falling around a couple guys named Tiger or Rory McIlroy. Let's start with Tiger. He just teed off in the last hour. Now, in the early part of this week we saw a retooled Tiger Woods. He was personable. He was open, even had his young kids on the course Wednesday. Once the competition started, it was a little less a laughing matter. He got into some tough spots in round one. He dug back in, came back into the weekend well under the cut line. Mike, after years of struggle, and I do feel like I've asked you this year after year, but after years of struggles, are we finally seeing the Tiger Woods that fans are hoping for?

ROSENBERG: Yes, I think he's back. I'm just glad he came back in time to leave and come back again.

NICHOLS: Comeback after comeback after comeback.

ROSENBERG: Exactly. He took two months off saying he was not ready to play tournament golf, forget about winning. So for him to come here and make the cut and play as well as he has I think speaks to the talent that he still has and how good he can be. The question is with Tiger, can he stay healthy? If he can have two straight years of being healthy and practicing, I think you'll see him in the top five again.

NICHOLS: Excellent. Now, Shane, you spent a lot of time with Rory McIlroy, and you were with him in Dubai a couple months ago. And even at the start of the season he was so foxed on the Masters already, then he almost misses the cut yesterday. What's the mindset today?

O'DONOGHUE: At the moment I think he's just had too much time to wait and think about it. He's tried to block it out. But he was walking on water last summer winning the Open Championship and World Golf Championship and then the PGA. But he's had too long to wait and there's been too much scrutiny, too much focus on this potential achievement of career slam. So I think we're seeing Rory with a b- game. He needs to shoot at least 65 today if he's going to have any chance of joining some of the greats of the game come Sunday evening.

NICHOLS: All right, two days for everyone to make a move. Thanks to you, both. Do not go far. We're going to get your predictions later in the show.

[14:35:03] And, of course, we have so much more Masters talk on Right now you can check out an article on how Jordan's Spieth's hot start in the Masters compares to of course the early days of Tiger Woods. And on this show, well, you are not going to want to miss Bubba Watson. Coming up next the defending champion gets unclenchingly honest.


NICHOLS: You have been pretty open too about the fact that you had a Masters hangover, I think you called it, after the first time you won. What happened there?

WATSON: Well, the attention.



NICHOLS: Welcome back to "All Access at Augusta," a CNN Bleacher Report special. It's azaleas, dogwoods, white caddy suits, vast greens -- this is the Masters.

Bubba Watson has won this tournament twice, but he's not your typical defending champion. After winning the Masters last year Watson celebrated the most prestigious title in golf with a midnight run to Waffle House. He has got a huge personality and a huge game to match. This is despite that growing up Watson never had formal golf lessons. I asked about all of it. Take a listen.


NICHOLS: It's just amazing to think the two-time Masters champion is self-taught. How did that happen? Did you just pick up a club and start hacking around?

WATSON: Pretty much. I had a 9-iron. My dad bought me plastic golf ball, and so around the yard I went one way around the house and then around the other way, so I learned to hit shots both ways, under trees, over trees, over the edge of the house. And after about a year of doing that, they finally bought me a full set of clubs, and I started playing on the golf course.

[14:40:00] NICHOLS: When you did win the first time in 2012, it was so memorable, not just because of the crazy shot, one of the best in tournament history, but just how emotional you got. And your father had died just a couple years earlier. How much was he with you in that moment?

WATSON: That's an emotion you can't expect. It was like a river. That was just -- I was crying nonstop, having two great role model as my parents to get me where I was at that moment was a dream and thrill of a lifetime.

NICHOLS: And your wife wasn't there because you had just adopted your son just a week or two earlier. You got on the phone with her, it seemed like the tears started all over again.

WATSON: That's all I wanted to do was put the green jacket on and get home. And so it was very emotional, good and bad, because I wanted to be with my son, but I also wanted to cry like a baby because I had the green jacket on.

NICHOLS: When you got home, you wrapped him up in your green jacket. What a great moment.

WATSON: Yes. At some point I'm going to have to explain to him he's adopted. And so I want to be able show him through video, through my talks to the media, and then wrap him up in it to let him know that we do love and care about him very much.

NICHOLS: Since winning the Masters for the first time, your life has changed tremendously. I think my favorite anecdote is you became friendly with Justin Bieber. You own the General Lee. I mean, this is a piece of American history, the original car from the "Dukes of Hazard." There's also the music videos. I mean, I think most people want them burned, but you seem to put them out there on the internet for everyone to see.

WATSON: If you look at the game of golf, people can't see our personalities. And so for us, coming up with "The Golf Boys." It's about showing golf can be fun sometimes.

NICHOLS: I may never get that image of you in the baby bonnet burned out of my brain. I don't know. That's a lot.

WATSON: I thought that was pretty good. It was clever, you know. And then my hairy chest, that's nice. That's all natural.

NICHOLS: You have been pretty open, too, about the fact you had a Masters hangover, I think you called it, after the first time that you won. What happened there?

WATSON: Well, the attention. You know, the fans, the sponsors want more of your time. You got to learn how to deal with this new fame, this new, I don't know what to call it, major champion sickness. I don't know what it is.

NICHOLS: You obviously figured things out enough to win a second green jacket.

WATSON: I think so. I told the sponsors, look, I still have to be good at golf, and I still want to be good at golf. And they want me good at golf. And the fans the same thing. The fans understand.

NICHOLS: And you adopted a second child now.

WATSON: Dakota.

NICHOLS: A daughter.


NICHOLS: Very beautiful. You've been winning a lot since you adopted these kids. They must be good luck.

WATSON: Yes, exactly. We might need to adopt some more to keep going.


NICHOLS: I don't know. Bubba's got a lot more majors he wants to win. This could end being a very big family.

All right, we are going to take a quick break, but you are not going to want to go anywhere, because when we come back I will sit down with the one and only Arnold Palmer. He remembers some of his greatest victories for us and spills about some moments he might rather forget.


NICHOLS: Have you ever done anything like that, a fit of frustration on the course that you later maybe were a little bit embarrassed about?



[14:46:23] NICHOLS: Welcome back to "All Access at Augusta," a CNN Bleacher Report special. It's honorary starters, pines, patrons, Magnolia Lane -- this is the Masters.

And we are right here in the middle of it all. You can see the first fairway and they're playing golf right behind me. That is one of the best things about this week, watching the players, and not just today's players, but getting to see some of golf's greatest legends -- the king, the black knight, the golden bear. They're all still wowing the crowds. In fact one of our favorite moments of the tournament came on Wednesday during the par three tournament as 75-year-old Jack Nicklaus hits his first hole-in-one in 56 years of playing here at Augusta. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, come on, come on, Jack! Yes!



NICHOLS: Amazing. Now, Arnold Palmer could not play in the event this year due to a dislocated shoulder, but the 85-year-old is still very much a presence here at Augusta. A little earlier he stopped by our set to give some insight into an event he knows better than anyone.


NICHOLS: Well, you're the expert. You won four Masters titles over your career. So what are the leaders thinking as they go into the final weekend?

PALMER: Well, I think, first of all, they are concerned about their game, and what that boils down to good putting. And certainly one of the highlights of Augusta and winning the Masters is good putting.

NICHOLS: You have so many memories. I'm sure every corner sparks something for you, but do you have a favorite. When you think of Augusta, is there something that flashes to your mind about the Masters?

PALMER: Well, of course, one of the things that I'm most proud of is my experience with President Eisenhower.

NICHOLS: Right. So you win the Masters in 1960, and then you get a phone call from the president?

PALMER: He said, would I like to play golf on Monday? What do you think I said?


NICHOLS: I'm going to say yes.

PALMER: Yes, yes, yes, yes.

NICHOLS: It has been 10 years since we saw Tiger win at Augusta. The question about whether he will ever pass Jack Nicholas in his record of majors has been asked pretty much through most of Tiger's career, and the answer has changed off and on as he has gone through his struggles. Where do you feel right now about whether he'll be able to hit that mark or pass it?

PALMER: Well, I think it's going to be tough. It would have been tough if he had been at the very top of his game and nothing like this had ever happened to him. But I give him a chance. But I also say that every day that passes it becomes more difficult. NICHOLS: What about Rory McIlroy. You recently had him at Bay Hill

and you guys had a great dinner together.

PALMER: I think he's a great young player, and I think we will hear a lot more about McIlroy in the years to come. He's just turning the bend, you know. I didn't turn pro until I was a year older than he is, so he's got a great shot.

NICHOLS: There were some raised eyebrows when he threw the club. Have you ever done anything like that, a fit of frustration on the course that you later maybe were a little bit embarrassed about?



PALMER: I threw a club once when I was playing in the match, and my father was there. And I threw the club hard. I didn't just throw it. I really whipped it.

[14:50:03] And I won the match after making a putt on the last hole. And I remember getting in the car to drive home, finally my father said, if I'm ever around and I see you throw a club like that again, you'll never play golf in my house.


PALMER: And he meant it.

NICHOLS: And did you? Did you throw a club again?

PALMER: No. Not so anybody could see it anyway.


NICHOLS: Well, last thing I'll ask, then, is how did you invent the Arnold Palmer? We all have to know. Was there one day you just said lemonade, ice tea, I need to have it.

PALMER: No. I was out on the golf course, and it was hot at 116 degrees. And I said to my guys, I said let's go to a cool place for a cool off. And we did, and we found the restaurant, and we went in the restaurant. And I ordered a lemonade with -- I ordered an iced tea with a touch of lemonade. And I won't tell you the combination.

NICHOLS: That's a secret?

PALMER: Then I heard a lady in the restaurant say to the waitress, I'll have an Arnold Palmer. Well, I never heard it called an Arnold Palmer. It was tea and lemonade. And that put me on the spot, and I -- so I followed it up, and that's what we have.

NICHOLS: Well, we're all very grateful for it.

PALMER: Thank you.

NICHOLS: Very grateful for your time. Thank you so much.

PALMER: Thank you.


NICHOLS: Got to love the Arnold Palmer, right?

OK, when we come back, we will introduce you to a special young man and the golf pro who made his wish come true, a truly inspirational story. This is going to give you a new player to cheer for the rest of this weekend.


KEVIN STREELMAN, 2015 MASTERS PAR 3 CONTEST WINNER: There's things more important than golf in a golf tournament. To be able to share that day with him, that means a lot more to me than, you know, even winning the green jacket.



[14:55:12] NICHOLS: Welcome back to "All Access at Augusta," a CNN Bleacher Report special. It's the Clubhouse, Amen Corner, the Hogan Bridge, Ray's Creek -- this is the Masters.

There is a history of traditions like no other here at Augusta, and one came to an emotional close here this week. Ben Crenshaw competed in his 44th and final Masters at the age of 63. Now, if you followed Crenshaw, you have seen Carl Jackson, his caddy for the past 38 years, an iconic figure here at Augusta. Here's their story.


CARL JACKSON, CADDY: These grounds came into my life, took me away from a lot of other things that I might have done that might not have been good for me. But I saw other boys not much older than me out there working, and it came to me that I needed to go to work.

BEN CRENSHAW, TWO-TIME MASTERS CHAMPION: We got together through mutual friends and they suggested, you know, I think it'd be good for you to try to get Carl. We started together in 1976, and I was convinced at the time I had the best. And it was pretty easy for me. I never had to think about anything else but just listen to Carl.

JACKSON: As years went along, we became good friends, better friends, and, you know, feel like I'm standing beside my brother right now.

CRENSHAW: It's meant the world to us. And it's time, you know, it's time for me. And, gosh, we've been here forever, but we love this place like everybody else, and we just want to give thanks, really.

JACKSON: We're not going anywhere. I still have my old buddy around.


NICHOLS: And the tears were flowing here last night when Ben Crenshaw finished up on 18 for a final time, a fond farewell for the two-time Masters champ surrounded by family and of course that giant hug for his buddy, Carl Jackson. Very special.

But that is not the only friendship that touched fans here this week. Ethan Couch is a 13-year-old from Canada. He suffers from a brain tumor. It's benign, but inoperable. Ethan would like to be a golf pro someday and his wish was to attend the Masters. But he ended up getting much more. PGA pro Kevin Streelman called Ethan and asked if he would be his caddy for the Par 3 tournament. So there was Ethan on Wednesday holding the bag, reading puts, and sharing a memory of a lifetime when Streelman went on to win the event.


ETHAN COUCH, 13-YEAR-OLD CANCER PATIENT: There's a jinx if you win par 3 you don't ever win. No one has even won the Par 3 and the Masters in the same year. But he said he didn't worry about it, that he thinks he can do them both.

STREELMAN: It's very emotional for all of us. I had a feeling I was going to win that tournament. I knew all the putts were going in. It was just one of the days where the purpose and the existence out there was a lot bigger than just me or bigger than a trophy. And he was a great kid, and I wish him nothing but, you know, the best in a long life of happiness.


NICHOLS: Here's the post round tweet from Streelman, a lot of us following him now. And what a wonderful story it would be if he could break that Par 3 jinx, win the green jacket. He was four under par after the first two rounds, but, man, I am not sure anybody is going to catching Jordan Spieth. And for that I want to bring back in Shane O'Donoghue. He's the host of "Living Golf" on CNN International, and Mike Rosenberg, senior writer for "Sports Illustrated." We wanted the expert take, guys. You both follow the tour. So does Jordan Spieth go wire to wire to win this thing, or can anybody else catch him? What's your pick?

O'DONOGHUE: I don't think Jordan is going to do it. I think it would be great if he did, but I think Dustin Johnson really should be trying to achieve a career slam here. He's come close in all of the other three majors. He's been sensational since he turned professional. He's one of the greatest and most talented players on the PGA tour. This, I believe, is his time.

NICHOLS: Excellent. Bold statement. What about you?

ROSENBERG: That's a great choice. I boldly choose the guy with the five stroke lead who is phenom, Jordan Spieth. I think he wins it.

NICHOLS: All right, well, you're stepping out on a limb there, Shane making the more cerebral pick. We'll see who wins out here. We will be watching.

And of course, if you're away from your TV this weekend, do not worry. You can still follow the Masters at, see which golfer is making a move up the leader board. And you can also just download Bleacher Report app from the App store.

All right, that's going to be it from us among the magnolias here at Augusta National. I am Rachel Nichols. Thanks for joining us. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and enjoy the tournament.