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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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”