Longtime golf broadcaster Chirkinian dies

By Associated PressMarch 5, 2011, 7:02 am

NEW YORK – Frank Chirkinian, the longtime golf producer for CBS who helped turn the Masters into one of the most watched events in sports television, has died. He was 84.

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

The television pioneer was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame just last month, during an emergency vote after it became widely known he was undergoing treatment 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, Frank Chirkinian Jr., said during a phone interview. “I don’t think there was anything left.”

Described as street-wise and direct, Chirkinian had said recently that getting into the Hall of Fame was the apex of his career – and what a robust career it was.

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

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

He produced 38 editions of the Masters for CBS, bringing the majestic fairways and greens of Augusta to fans who could only dream of seeing them in person.

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

Chirkinian introduced high-angle cameras and new angles, put roving reporters 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 define modern golf coverage. He even changed the way scores were delivered, according to par rather than by total.

He could be friendly and agreeable, but also surly and demanding – announcer Pat Summerall gave him the nickname “The Ayatollah” in the late 1970s, when the Shah of Iran was deposed and replaced by Khomeini. It was a name that Chirkinian acknowledged he enjoyed.

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

Chirkinian left his imprint on many of golf’s defining moments, from the duels 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 Augusta National “the greatest theater in sports.”

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

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

Critics recognized his passion and devotion by awarding him five Emmys and a Peabody during his career. He also was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

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

That’s why, when word spread that he was undergoing cancer treatment, the Hall of Fame board – including members of the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA of America and European Tourh – held an emergency vote last month to elect him alongside Ernie Els, Doug Ford, Jumbo Ozaki, Jock Hutchison and George H.W. Bush. Those five were elected last September.

Chirkinian had hoped to make the induction in May, and his son said he taped an acceptance speech that will be played during the ceremony. His family plans to 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.”

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Watch: Pieters snaps club ... around his neck

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 1:19 pm

After opening in 3-over 75, Thomas Pieters was in no mood for more poor play on Friday.

Unfortunately for Pieters, he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship and then didn't like his second shot at the par-5 fourth.

Someone - or some thing - had to pay, and an innocent iron bore the brunt of Pieters' anger.



Pieters made par on the hole, but at 5 over for the tournament, he was five shots off the cut line.

It's not the first time a club has faced Pieters' wrath. 

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Woods would 'love' to see Tour allow shorts

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:59 pm

Players on the European Tour are allowed to wear shorts during practices and pro-ams.

The PGA of America permitted players to show some leg while prepping for last year’s PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods would like to see the PGA Tour follow suit.

"I would love it," he said Thursday in a Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf. "We play in some of the hottest climates on the planet. We usually travel with the sun, and a lot of our events are played in the summer, and then on top of that when we have the winter months here a lot of the guys go down to South Africa and Australia where it's summer down there.

"It would be nice to wear shorts. Even with my little chicken legs, I still would like to wear shorts."

Caddies are currently allowed to wear shorts on Tour, during events.

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Feasting again: McIlroy shoots 65 to lead BMW PGA

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:04 pm

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

Rory McIlroy made seven birdies and no bogeys on Friday for a 7-under 65 and the second-round lead at the BMW PGA Championship.

After opening in 67, McIlroy was among the early groups out on Day 2 at Wentworth Club. He made three birdies and no bogeys on the par-35 front nine on Friday, and then went on a run after the turn.

McIlroy made four consecutive birdies, beginning at the par-5 12th. That got him to 12 under, overall, and gave him a clear advantage over the field. With two closing par-5s, a very low number was in sight. But, as he did on Day 1, McIlroy finished par-par.

"I've made four pars there [on 17 and 18] when I really should be making at least two birdies, but I played the other par-5s well," McIlroy said. "It all balances itself out."


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


McIlroy has made 14 birdies and two bogeys through two rounds. At 12 under, he has a three-stroke lead over Sam Horsfield.

"The work has paid off, to some degree," McIlroy said of his practice with swing coach Michael Bannon. "I still feel like I'm hitting some loose shots out there. But, for the most part, it's been really good. If I can keep these swing thoughts and keep going in the right direction, hopefully this is the type of golf I'll be able to produce."

This event has been feast or famine for McIlroy. He won here in 2014, but has three missed cuts in his other three starts. This week, however, he’ll be around for the weekend and is in position for his first European Tour victory since the 2016 Irish Open and his second worldwide victory of the year (Arnold Palmer Invitational).

"I have the confidence that I'm playing well and I can go out and try to just replicate what I did the day before," McIlroy said about his weekend approach with the lead. "On the first tee box tomorrow I'll be thinking about what I did today. Trying to just keep the same thoughts, make the same swings. I went a couple better today than I did yesterday. I'm not sure I'll keep that progression going but something similiar tomorrow would be nice."

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."