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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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm