Golf on TV: all Faldo, nearly all the time in '07

Published October 5, 2006

If you like golf and like to watch it on television, you'd better like Nick Faldo.

The six-time major-championship winner will bring his dry British wit to American television quite often in 2007. Maybe too often.

Faldo was named this week as the lead CBS-TV golf analyst and will work alongside veteran broadcaster Jim Nantz. Former PGA champion Lanny Wadkins, who replaced longtime analyst Ken Venturi five years ago, has been bumped out of the booth.

It is a great move for CBS and Faldo, who has been quite good in his limited role on ABC alongside Bradenton's Paul Azinger. ABC will televise only the British Open next year.

But here's the interesting part.

Faldo already had been named the lead analyst on the Golf Channel's coverage of PGA Tour events.

It will televise the first three official events starting in January, then pick up Thursday-Friday coverage the rest of the year. Faldo can't work every telecast, but it appears he will be there for a good number of Thursdays-Fridays. CBS has 21 events. Faldo also is expected to do the British Open for ABC.

So he'll be at three of the four majors, missing only the U.S. Open, which is handled by NBC.

"I duck and dive, go with the flow each week," Faldo said when his hiring was announced by CBS. "If you know what you're going to get, there's no point in having me."

The move means that Faldo, who won three Masters, will be unable to play at Augusta National next year. And it likely means a limited schedule on the Champions Tour, if he plays at all. Faldo turns 50 in July.

If that is not enough, Faldo already has been named captain of the 2008 European Ryder Cup team.

"I'm obviously extremely honored and excited to be given this opportunity," he said. "I really enjoy this work. It's a new string to my bow."

Nobody knew Faldo had it in him back in the days when he was earning the most Ryder Cup points of any player in Europe and winning those six majors. He was so focused, Faldo said nothing to anyone. And his dealings with the media were often tense, especially in tabloid-mad Britain, where after winning the 1992 British Open he mockingly thanked them "from the heart of my bottom."

Now, he is on the verge of becoming one of the most prominent "media" members in golf.

Chrysler update: The Chrysler Championship is just three weeks away, and the tournament is getting a good response from players for the final full-field event of the season. Among those who have committed or who are expected to play are former major-championship winners John Daly, Davis Love, Lee Janzen, Ernie Els, Bernhard Langer, Paul Azinger, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman, Shaun Micheel, Nick Price and Jeff Sluman. Former champions Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh are also expected, along with rookie Camilo Villegas, Adam Scott, Jason Gore, Fred Funk and Stewart Cink.

The field will be capped at 132 and offers the last opportunity for players to finish among the top 30 money winners to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship, as well as for those trying to be among the top 125 and thus exempt for 2007.

Tickets can be purchased by calling (727) 942-5566 or by visiting chryslerchampionship.com.

Big Easy: Els played in the first Chrysler Championship and praised the Innisbrook course. He has missed the last two due to injury but is all but a lock to play, partly because he has to. Els is 28th on the money list and not expected to play again until the Chrysler Championship. That means his spot in the Tour Championship is precarious.

It has been a tough year for Els, whose knee injury in July bothered him more than he let on. He has not won on the PGA Tour or in Europe, where he will play in this week's Dunhill Links Championship, a pro-am event that uses the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie (site of next year's British Open) and Kingsbarns in its rotation.

Around golf: Lorena Ochoa returns to her homeland this week for the Corona Morelia Championship in Mexico. Ochoa, 24, is a huge star at home and leads the LPGA money list. ... Darren Clarke will retain his PGA Tour membership despite being unable to play the mandated 15 events. The PGA Tour is giving him a waiver because of the death of his wife, Heather, in the summer. ... Chip Beck is off to a good start on the Champions Tour, with two top-five finishes. He joined Bobby Wadkins as the only players to make cuts on the PGA and Nationwide tours and play in a Champions Tour event (where there are no cuts) in the same season.