ORLANDO, Fla. – Brad Faxon is bringing his insight to television this year as a rookie analyst for NBC. He'll be working Golf Channel’s telecast Thursday and Friday as a roving course reporter at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
Faxon, 48, an eight-time PGA Tour winner known as a gifted putter, has long been regarded by media as one of the best quotes on Tour. He will be working from the tower for NBC at Bay Hill on the weekend, covering the fifth, ninth, 13th and 14th holes.
Though he’ll be working as an analyst for seven PGA Tour events, Faxon is not done as a player. He expects to play at least 20 events this year.
Faxon, who made his TV debut at the WGC-CA Championship at Doral earlier this month, talked about his new TV role in a Quick Round:
So what’s it like with a microphone in your hand instead of a golf club?
It’s exciting, but it’s nerve-wracking. I was way more nervous at Doral than I ever would have thought. I am more comfortable with a golf club in my hand.
Anything particularly unusual about your debut at Doral that you care to share?
We had to wear a coat and tie. It was a World Golf Championship. I was rushing to get my coat on because I was about to go on the air, and I whacked my head into this metal thing on the door and I started bleeding. This girl, Wendy, had to fix me up before I went on. I’ve still got the bump on my head.
Bleeding probably ranks among the things you are not supposed to do on the air.
Tommy Roy (NBC executive producer) gave me a list of things not to say on the air. You can’t say pin placement. You have to say hole location. You can’t say playing partner. You have to say fellow competitor. You can’t say tournament. You have to say championship. You can’t say sand trap. You have to say bunker. When you have all these things you can’t say, you get a little more nervous. I was also told not to use the word great too much.
How would you grade your debut?
I think I got about a B. I tend to be critical of myself, to go over the things I said and the way I said them and the way I wished I would have said them. I got my right ear lit up a few times making a mistake. I know going forward I will make mistakes, but I am very comfortable working with all the NBC folks.
How would you describe your role?
I am trying to talk about golf as I see it. People have asked me about my style. I don’t know what my actual style is going to be. I think my strength will be knowing a lot about the current players and also having a good short game. They can plug me in to talk about a particular golfer’s strengths and weaknesses and do some analyzing.
Do you see criticism as part of your role?
I know it’s the name of the game now. If you are not critical, you are not doing the right thing. There’s a way to be critical that’s not condescending to someone. We all hit bad shots, and I think you have to call a spade a spade at times. I think I know how to say a guy wishes he had that shot over without beating him up.
Did criticism from the media bother you as a player?
I think a lot of people thought that because I was a good putter, I was just lucky to be out here. People think you are either a good putter or you are not. That bugged me. I worked hard for a long time to become better and better. I don’t think it’s lucky.
Will we see you challenging Johnny Miller’s strong opinions?
I hope. I think Tommy Roy wants that. Tommy has said if Johnny says something you don’t agree with, and we have time, let’s discuss it. I think the fans and the spectators want to hear different opinions. I am impressed with Johnny and the way he prepares. He’s out here early on Saturday and Sunday mornings. When he’s talking about which way a particular putt will break, he knows. He’s been out there rolling balls on those holes. He’s already said a couple things where I felt like I could battle with him. He’s very honest, and he’ll come right back at you if he doesn’t agree.
Tiger’s dominating the news with his return to golf at the Masters. Do you think he can win there?
He certainly could. I think there’s probably a heck of a lot of people who are rooting for him and a heck of a lot of people who aren’t rooting for him. I just think it’s good people are talking about his return and that he’s playing golf again, rather than all the talk about the personal stuff. It’s good for the players and the networks to see he’s coming back.
But you think he can win the Masters.
I don’t know how those first few days are going to be for him in competition. He’s a human being. He’s shown in these first few interviews that this is hard for him. Facing his friends for the first time will be difficult. He’s shown some remorse, that he has feelings about what he did and that’s healthy. He’s told us he’s still working on some rehab issues. That’s great. My prediction would be Thursday and Friday would be a hell of a lot more difficult for him than Sunday afternoon.
Do you sense other players will be looking for vulnerability, that they’ll be looking to see if Tiger has lost his edge?
I don’t think any of the off-course stuff will affect his ability on the course. I see no relationship, none at all. I see him being able to step right back in. I would be a little surprised if he came into the Masters and played great right away. But he’s surprised us with everything he’s done in his golf career.