Longtime golf broadcaster Chirkinian dies

By Associated PressMarch 5, 2011, 1:57 am

NEW YORK (AP)—Frank Chirkinian, the longtime golf producer for CBS whohelped turn the Masters into one of the most watched events in sportstelevision, has died. He was 84.

Chirkinian died Friday at his home in North Palm Beach, Fla., after a longbout with lung cancer, his son told The Associated Press. He was surrounded byfriends and family.

The television pioneer was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame just lastmonth, during an emergency vote after it became widely known he was undergoingtreatment for cancer. He will be inducted posthumously on May 9 in St.Augustine, Fla., in the lifetime achievement category.

“He squeezed every drop of life out of his 84 years,” his son, FrankChirkinian Jr., said during a phone interview. “I don’t think there wasanything left.”

Described as street-wise and direct, Chirkinian had said recently thatgetting into the Hall of Fame was the apex of his career—and what a robustcareer it was.

He produced the first PGA Championship in 1958, at Llanerch Country Clubnear his home in Philadelphia, and two years later the first televised WinterOlympics from Squaw Valley. He also dreamed up the idea of putting cameras onblimps to cover college football games.

But it was his work in golf that stood out, and at Augusta National inparticular.

He produced 38 editions of the Masters for CBS, bringing the majesticfairways and greens of Augusta to fans who could only dream of seeing them inperson.

“Frank Chirkinian was a visionary in every sense of the word,” PGA Tourcommissioner Tim Finchem said. “He was an artist. The sport of golf waspresented on television to generations of fans in innovative, imaginative andentertaining ways because of Frank.”

Chirkinian introduced high-angle cameras and new angles, put rovingreporters on the grounds, and made sure to capture the unique blend of sounds—the club hitting the ball, the ball falling into the cup—that came to definemodern golf coverage. He even changed the way scores were delivered, accordingto par rather than by total.

He could be friendly and agreeable, but also surly and demanding—announcerPat Summerall gave him the nickname “The Ayatollah” in the late 1970s, whenthe Shah of Iran was deposed and replaced by Khomeini. It was a name thatChirkinian acknowledged he enjoyed.

“He was a friend, a mentor and a father figure to me,” broadcaster JimNantz said. “I was blessed to have his guiding hand extended to me at the ageof 26. I am comforted knowing, as long as there is golf being televised anywherein the world, Frank Chirkinian lives.”

Chirkinian left his imprint on many of golf’s defining moments, from theduels between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus that defined the 1960s and ’70s,to the Golden Bear’s back-nine charge to win the 1986 Masters. He called AugustaNational “the greatest theater in sports.”

He retired from CBS in the late 1990s, but could still be found on the golfcourse.

“Frank Chirkinian was a true pioneer,” said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBCSports. “There certainly would not have been a golf television business withouthim. And golf may never have developed into such a robust business without theway he connected the game on the course to the viewer at home. He will be sorelymissed but the game is better forever because of him.”

Critics recognized his passion and devotion by awarding him five Emmys and aPeabody during his career. He also was inducted into the Sports BroadcastingHall of Fame.

“The golfing world lost a great ambassador to the game,” said LanceBarrow, coordinating producer of golf and the NFL for CBS Sports. “He did asmuch for the game as anyone who has ever been associated with golf. His legacywill live on forever.”

That’s why, when word spread that he was undergoing cancer treatment, theHall of Fame board—including members of the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA of America andEuropean Tour—held an emergency vote last month to elect him alongside ErnieEls , Doug Ford, Jumbo Ozaki, Jock Hutchison and George H.W. Bush. Those fivewere elected last September.

Chirkinian had hoped to make the induction in May, and his son said he tapedan acceptance speech that will be played during the ceremony. His family plansto attend in his honor.

“I think it really brightened his last few days,” Frank Chirkinian Jr.said. “I think this was kind of the crowning achievement for his career.”

Associated Press writer David Fischer in Miami contributed to this story.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.