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PGA CHAMPIONSHIP


May 15, 2019


Jim Nantz

Steve Milton

Lance Barrow

Ross Molloy

Patty Power

Harold Bryant

Amanda Balionis

Mark Immelman


Farmingdale, New York

JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Very pleased to be joined by our partners at CBS Sports who will be televising their 36th PGA Championship this year and their 29th in a row dating back to 1991. As a reminder to everyone here, last fall they signed on to air the PGA Championship through 2030. This year they become the first network in 25 years to carry back-to-back majors. And as you can see, we're lucky enough to be joined by many members of the CBS team, including award-winning announcers, executive producer and senior vice president of production, Harold Bryant, and director Steve Milton.

Immediately after this news conference we will be able to get up close and personal with many of the talent that you see on stage here, as we'll do some one-on-one interviews in about 20 minutes. Let's go ahead and hear from coordinating producer of golf for CBS Sports, Lance Barrow. Lance has been connected to CBS Sports since 1976 and all of the PGA Championships since 1991.

Lance, thanks very much for being with us today, and why don't you go ahead and let us know what you have up your sleeves for us this week.

LANCE BARROW: Well, I don't really have a lot up my sleeve, but it's great to be with you. It's great to be with everyone here in May at Bethpage in Long Island, New York, for the PGA Championship. It's been a long time coming to move this tournament to May, and we're excited to be a part of it.

As you mentioned, we're the first network to ever do back-to-back majors, and that's wonderful. And our chairman, Sean McManus, of CBS Sports said on a press call last Wednesday that this has been an unbelievable run for us in 2019, starting with the great overtime victory in the AFC championship game, Kansas City and New England. Then two weeks later, Super Bowl LIII. A few weeks after that doing the Final Four and the championship game that also went into overtime. Then the week after that the historic Masters tournament, and then now here historic Bethpage, and for the first time in May since the late '40s.

So we're excited about being here and excited about being a part of this, and we're also excited that starting next year, for 11 years in a row, we will be back and be a part of the PGA of America and the PGA Championship starting at Harding Park with our new extension that will go to 2030, and that will be about a 40-year extension, and hopefully we will keep having that opportunity to be a part of the PGA Championship and the PGA of America.

Behind me is obviously award winning and the greatest -- in my opinion greatest golf announcing team there is in sports, led by my good friend and right behind us, the voice of CBS Sports, Jim Nantz. Next to him is Sir Nick Faldo, Amanda Balionis, Gary McCord, Frank Nobilo, Mark Immelman. Over there on my right, Bill Macatee, Verne Lundquist, Peter Kostis, and Dottie Pepper. We're very excited to be able to be on the air for over 30 hours broadcast time to be able to do this.

Notice that Ian Baker-Finch is not here with us today. Ian Baker-Finch had to go back to Australia. His wife, Jennie's, mom and stepmom died within a 24-hour period in Australia, so I know everyone in this room and everyone in the golfing world will keep them in their thoughts and prayers as they deal with this death of part of their family and to be there to celebrate both ladies' great lives. So Ian will not be with us here at the PGA Championship.

One of the great things about the PGA Championship that we get to do at CBS Sports is introduce technology. Over the years we have had a great opportunity to -- like with Toptracer, where it's become kind of a norm in golf where you see the ball leave the player's club from behind, then we introduce the player's shot coming towards them, and this year we're excited for the first time ever to be able to broadcast on our air the shot coming from the player with the blimp, which will give us a great view, an aerial view, of the blimp and how that is done with the Toptracer and ARL, and we're really looking forward to that. I think it will give a different look, a different perspective that you've never seen in golf with that.

We also last year introduced 4D replay. It will be on the 15th hole. There's only about 180 cameras that are around the 15th tee box that will give you a different perspective, and Peter Kostis and our entire team will be able to dissect a player's swing from angles you never really see from a player's perspective.

Another thing that we have is the motion capture technology. We introduced this at the Masters a few weeks ago, and we have it here again, which will show a player that will -- first time ever will not have any sensors or anything on the player. It will be shot by a camera, and then we can generate it in to look like -- put a skeleton for a player's movement. It's like all 271 movements of a player. So that will be something very exciting and something that we're looking forward to have.

The only problem is when I look at these skeletons and when they're showing the swings, for a guy that has two artificial knees, both the knees on that skeleton look like my fake knees, so that's kind of disturbing.

I'm happy you met Steve Milton, also the lead director of college football and the SEC with us. Julius also introduced our executive producer, senior vice president Harold Bryant. Sitting next to Harold is our executive vice president of operations and field engineering, who also is a person who brings all these great technologies to us, Patty Powers, who's actually -- this is a home game for her. She lives right down the road. Our vice president of remote operations, Steve Karasik, and vice president of talent and technology, Ross Molloy, who on a daily basis is saying, I think this will work on golf. And so all the technology that we have has contributed a lot from Ross and what Patty does for us.

That's it in a nutshell. I think we're less than 24 hours away from starting the 101st PGA Championship, probably the most built-up majors there's been in many years with not only what Tiger did a couple weeks ago but also with all the great champions and all the great young golfers who are now involved and some of the guys that you might not think in the 40 that has a chance, and we at CBS along with our partner TNT is thrilled to be able to bring it to over 200-something countries around the world and be the network of record for this great event. So we're looking forward to it.

JULIUS MASON: Lance, thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, we'll open the floor up to questions. If you have a question, raise your hand.

Q. Verne, taking you back to the Masters a few weeks ago, we all know your importance and your role on hole No. 16. Going to 2005 with the "Oh, my goodness" call, and then being able to tie it in all these years later still with Tiger Woods on that comeback story, can you just reflect about what was going through your mind when you were watching hole 16 play out and then he was walking from 16 to 17 and you said, "Oh, my goodness," once again?
VERNE LUNDQUIST: Yeah, I know that -- I set it up when he took the club in his hand and said in '05, he had a one-shot lead and he had an 8-iron, and here we are again.

And then he hit the shot and almost holed it, as we know. That night we were at a post event dinner, and I was asked, well, what did you say? And I went blank. I could not remember. I know I didn't say "in your life."

My wife and I went back to our rental home, and she said, I'm exhausted, I'm going to bed. I said, I'm going to watch the replay with Jim and Nick and Tiger, and when they replayed the shot, I realized I never said a word, which is probably the most appropriate thing I could have done, and just laid out.

I think we all learned, Jim and Nick laid out for -- I think it was two minutes and 41 seconds at the end of it. That can be as compelling as someone trying to stamp their own voice on it.

Someone later asked, What would you have said had the ball gone in the hole? And I said, It would not have been like Charley Hoffman's hole-in-one last year. Curse words would have happened.

Q. I just wanted to ask Peter, tell us a little more about that 4D camera and how has that changed your role and the things you're going to be able to talk about?
PETER KOSTIS: Well, it's going to give us a different way of communicating with the viewer. There's two parts to looking at a golf swing. One is the visual, and we were the first to introduce the slo-mo camera that helped us see what was going on, and the other is obviously auditory, what we say about it.

Now we're going to take it to a new level. We're going to be able to generate computer-driven images. We're going to have capabilities of actually putting real numbers to what's happening. So when I say, for example, look at how much he turns his shoulders against his hip turn, we're actually going to be able to put real-time numbers to it so people can get a little bit better imagery and a little bit better understanding of what we're trying to portray in a particular golf swing.

So again, it's just -- I think it's enhanced communication is the best way to look at it, and besides, it's really cool.

Q. Jim, you've obviously been around some great moments in sports. Where would you rank Sunday at the Masters this year?
JIM NANTZ: As far as a story to tell, I think it's the best I've ever had the great fortune of being around. I don't think it's the best tournament I've been around. I would still give '86 Augusta the nod. Jack shot 65 that day, and the golf was more riveting. However, when Jack walked off the 72nd, there was still four groups on the course. You didn't know he had won. So '86 didn't have the story to tell that we had a month ago today or a month ago yesterday with thousands ringing the 18th, chanting Tiger's name, and of course the arc of that story and the ups and downs and all of that. It was a rich story, and I feel very blessed to have been able to be a part of it with this group that we have up here on this stage. It was a very proud moment for us.

It's the 101st PGA, by the way, Julius, and this is the 101st day for me since calling the Super Bowl. It was 101 days ago. So just sitting here adding up the numbers and thinking, it's been an unbelievable stretch. I don't know how I was lucky enough to get that chance to go from Brady to Woods with a Virginia story that had such depth to it and winning the national championship.

So they've all been fantastic in this run of 101 days, and now this is the final piece to the puzzle, as I like to say, and I'm expecting something on Sunday that's going to be spectacular. Very happy to be here.

Q. Gary and Amanda, we've talked a lot about Tiger and Koepka this week, kind of the primary story lines. What for you guys is the most underrated story line coming into tomorrow?
GARY McCORD: Ladies first.

AMANDA BALIONIS: You know, Jim and I have talked about this, and you've been very vocal about this, but Brooks Koepka. It's unbelievable what he's been able to accomplish in such a short period of time, in all of the majors he's been able to collect, and it still doesn't feel like we talk about him enough, and we also don't give him the credit I think that he really deserves, and especially coming off last week. He's in unbelievable form, and I'm not seeing his name all over the place when you think of guys that are going to be in contention this week.

So I think to me, Brooks Koepka is still somehow one of the most underplayed stories heading into this week. I understand Tiger at the Masters. Tiger is Tiger, and he's going to be talked about a lot. But that does not mean that we're not going to see some tremendous things from elite players that are going to be around for a very, very long time and hopefully create some rivalries that we're going to be really looking forward to for the next couple decades.

GARY McCORD: That was very good.

AMANDA BALIONIS: Thank you, Gary.

GARY McCORD: The underlying story obviously for me would be Tiger, how is he going to handle this. He's been off now for four weeks. Is he going to start playing the majors and just a few tournaments and just really, really center on those? Can he sustain what he had at Augusta?

You know, it's a march upward now instead of a march downward, and how is he going to go about it in this new era that we've got in now where we're getting off just before football, and we've compressed this schedule down to a very finite group of tournaments, and how are these players going to act within that framework. Are we going to see more of this where they just play less and play the big ones? I don't know, it's going to be interesting to watch, but I'm really curious to see what Tiger does in this big, brawny golf course that he's won on before and to see if he can sustain what he's got going, because it's going to be a hell of a year if he does, if he keeps going the way he's going.

Q. I'm alluding to what Amanda said and Gary said, this emphasis on Tiger, I think we'll all agree, he moves the needle, is the needle. Jim, has it altered your preparation for this championship to kind of maybe be an equal opportunity announcer so that we have equal bias, but then to Lance, how does it affect you in what we see? Because a lot of times what you hear is, Isn't there anybody else playing other than Tiger? So how do you handle that in your position to kind of level things out?
JIM NANTZ: I'll be quick with this. I just commentate on the visuals that Lance and Steve Milton provide me. That's all I can do. I can only react to what they're feeding me. So I am not going to modulate my amount of coverage on Tiger while Brooks Koepka is playing the hole in front of me and Tiger is somewhere else on the golf course. I'm only trying to line up in symmetry with what they have.

But my guess would be, and I'll leave it to the man himself, I don't think our approach is going to be any different. You know, there's so much interest in golf right now. I was in New York last night, what a fabulous time this worked out to be for the date change and everything. This city is alive. There's a buzz around our sport. Obviously Tiger elevates all things, what he did at Augusta, and there's going to be tremendous interest in every single thing he does. There always is. But coming off his epic win and his first appearance since that victory, you'd better believe he'll be keeping an eye on him, every stop, and I'll try to lend a caption or two along with this guy. We need a question for Nick Faldo in there. I haven't heard the accent in a while. All yours, Lance.

LANCE BARROW: I said this from when I first took over for the great Frank Chirkinian when he retired in '97 when Tiger came on board. Tiger is a story in a golf tournament regardless if he's winning or losing. If he's out playing, people want to know what's going on with Tiger Woods.

But with that said, and last year at Bellerive was a great example, with all the things that was going on on Sunday, with Tiger making the charge, with that unbelievable scene that Steve Milton captured of Tiger walking across that bridge, it looked like -- before it's all said and done, it will be 30,000, 40,000 people down there yelling and screaming his name, but it looked like a mass of people down on that ground yelling, and it was great theater.

It was great theater, but we couldn't forget that Brooks Koepka, who was going to win the tournament, was playing the 17th hole.

And so, yes, even if Tiger is not winning, you check in from time to time. But you can't let him get in the way, or any player get in the way of what's going on with what's happening on the golf course.

I always remember Frank Chirkinian used to always say, and I learned from him sitting next to him, that you show the stars like -- his big deal was he always showed Ben Hogan walking up the 18th or Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus.

Well, it's the same thing at this tournament. If Tiger is not in contention, we'll show him along with Phil Mickelson, along with whomever else is out there of name because people are interested. But our main thing is to tell the story and to capture what is going on on the playing field. And you can't let anybody get in the way of that because someone is going to be a champion. Could be Tiger, or it could be the other 155 other players that's in this tournament. So you've got to make sure you're mindful of everything that's around you.

Q. I said to somebody about the win how great it was for golf, but Tiger won the world that day. I want your reaction, some guys here are players, they know it, they've been in the heat, they've seen some things, and how do you think he won the world, because America loves the underdog.
NICK FALDO: Yeah, well, I think the scenes that we saw and the whole atmosphere, everybody was pulling for Tiger that day. It was unbelievable. I know over the years you could say it was split 50/50 between lovers and haters. But on that particular day, everybody was pulling for it. We kind of all sensed it after the 12th hole what could happen and how historic it would be.

I personally think I've said that before. If he got to 15, that would be his greatest achievement. I think he's even said that was the hardest one ever to win.

Yeah, put all of that together, and it was unbelievable.

Q. Jim, yesterday the PGA of America CEO said that sports betting was a good way to maybe get people involved in the game of golf who maybe weren't before, especially the younger generation. I know that CBS has sometimes been reticent to mention that on the broadcast. What are your feelings on legal sports betting, and as a way to get a younger generation interested in the game?
JIM NANTZ: I get it. I understand your question. I'm still trying to get my mind around how all this is going to work. Obviously I've seen what's happened with some casinos lining up with some major broadcasters here in the last week, so you'll see there's a trend going here. I have not had one single discussion with Sean about what the CBS game plan is going forward. I'm a purist. I'm into the story. I'm not into the numbers, whether it's betting numbers or statistical data and analytics. That's not what I am really looking for.

You can definitely see a shift in the television landscape right now with the acceptance and moving forward with somehow a partnership, which I couldn't have imagined. I'm not going to kid you. 10 years ago I wouldn't have thought so, 30 years ago, impossible, that would never happen, and now it's just -- there's a flow, and it's right now. It's in this month.

So it'll be interesting to see what happens, but down the line, somebody is walking up the 18th hole trying to win a major championship, I can promise you, I'm not going to be talking about the odds that he's going to make a putt to win the title. I'm going to be talking about what's in his heart.

Q. For Lance and Jim, the silence on the 18th green was exceptional, reminiscent of what many even in Britain feel is the greatest pieces of commentary by Henry Longhurst where he said nothing other than an intake of breath when Doug Sanders missed the putt in 1970. Lance, how do you -- were you saying anything in Jim's ear? And Jim, when you didn't say anything, how did you know you shouldn't say anything, and how did you know for how long you shouldn't say anything?
JIM NANTZ: Well, first off, it's all instincts, and it's 34 years for me of broadcasting that tournament and the other properties that I've been fortunate enough to be entrusted with, and you just know.

Now, sometimes a Super Bowl ends, and you can't go silent for two and a half minutes because in one minute the network is going to go to commercial. They're going to hit what's called the post game gun, which marks the end of the rating period of that game broadcast, and they want to end it, they want to drop the curtain on it as soon as they can because in theory the game is over, people are shutting off the television. Why didn't they lay out longer? Well, the network was leaving, and there's some other things to it that I'm sure most people would never even think about.

But that was an easy one. When the putt was dropped, I said the return to glory. Nick is at 18, I'm already positioned down at Butler Cabin. Lance is almost a quarter mile away in the compound, and at that point it was just a coordination between the three of us to make sure we're all on the same page, led by Lance.

There was nothing you could do at that moment, with that beautiful scene with his family other than sully one of the great visuals that the game has ever seen, and the crowd and the chant. You're going to try to talk over that? Well, my goodness, somebody said it earlier, I think it was Lance, Frank Chirkinian used to say to us how lucky were we to be mentored by the great man, "use silence as a sword." It's a weapon. He told me that back in the mid '80s. This was the ultimate occasion. There was nothing you could do but ruin it, and if you were going to try to fight in there and wedge and insert a comment into one of the most beautiful scenes a sport has ever seen, you shouldn't be sitting in that seat. That's the way my mind was.

I'm very proud of the way it was handled, especially with the coordination. How do you coordinate silence? We're not all looking at each other eye to eye, and I know we all felt the same thing. When we finally did talk, it just felt like it was the appropriate time to finally bring it back, and we were getting to a point, too, where we were going to go to a break and start positioning and setting things up for the Green Jacket ceremony.

Lance BARROW: Like what Jim said, it's all teamwork. All I said was talk when you feel like talking. I didn't say don't talk. People -- I never said that. I know Jim Nantz knows when to talk and when not to talk. We've done Super Bowls, we've done Masters, PGA Championship, we've done a lot of major events over the years, and we kind of know probably more than we probably should about how we work together because we're -- he's like a brother to me, and so we understand that. Same thing with Sir Nick.

Like Jim said, we were all three in separate spots. We also had in the truck a lot of things going on in the truck. We had these great replays that when he made the putt and all the things, and I said to Steve Milton while he was walking up to hug his children and his mom and walking down that tunnel of people high-fiving and all the players that were at the scoring tent that he hugged and high-fived, I said, the first replay is videotape, along with our replay producer Jim Rick Hoff, I said to Steve, when you feel like it's time to run a replay, run a replay.

You know, this will be our 44th major championship together, the three guys in the truck and most of the people on this dais today, and just instincts, and we're a great team, and we understand it. But no one needs to ever tell Jim Nantz or Nick Faldo or anybody else on the layout. They know when to lay out, and they know when to talk. It was one of the great moments that we've had at CBS Sports in the history of our sport.

NICK FALDO: I just think simply, from one of the players walking up 18, that last 75 yards, the whole atmosphere really changes. You kind of respect, you give him that silence to walk on to the green, and then exactly what they were describing. After the putt went in, all those scenes, there was so much happening visually, and Tiger has probably never been so expressive for so long. Normally you get a fist pump and then he goes off and that's it, but it went on, and we wanted the crowd, his children, and as he came down, the patrons and then the players. We'd never, ever seen -- that's where I was just hanging on, and I think it's wonderfully ironic that I've been with CBS now for 13 years, and my finest work is saying nothing for two minutes and 45 seconds. (Laughter.)

Q. Frank, we've asked many of the players what it will take to win the championship over the next four days, driving accuracy or driving distance, and most have said driving accuracy. Given the conditions of the course and the thickness of the rough, what do you think it will take to win the championship, and who will be the contenders on Sunday?
FRANK NOBILO: Historically -- good question. Historically it depends where you want to derive the answer from. For example, Mickelson has finished twice a runner up, so he breaks that system when you're trying to look at a champion because Phil, as we know, even though he's played here very successfully and got extremely close on two occasions, sprays it all over the joint. So he's always the outlier that when you look from a statistical point of view of trying to find the answer that he's going to throw that number off.

The conditions, because it's cold, ball doesn't travel as far, for example, every 10 degrees drop in temperature, the golf ball itself goes two yards shorter. So that scrubs off speed. That makes the course even longer.

But I think collectively when we look at it, you can look at two different sides of the spectrum. You can see a short hitter winning like a Zach Johnson did at Augusta back in 2003, purely because fairway hitting, especially if we get rain and some wind, that becomes paramount again.

If Kerry Haigh gets the mowers on the rough tonight and does get the rough down to three and a half inches, that also has a reflection, then maybe some of the longer hitters can get away with the odd errant tee shot. But in the end, it really does come down to a blend. They've looked at using the new strokes gained metrics, which are sort of -- suit the guys that hit it so far. The reason why is because they often get a short club in their hands, usually a wedge, so it's virtually irrelevant out of the rough.

When you look at the length of this golf course right now, the one disadvantage with the longer hitters, they will not get short irons in their hand, so they won't get the luxury of a good drive and still a wedge. So therefore if it was Nick Faldo, for example, to my right, back in his heyday with a 6-iron as opposed to a Dustin Johnson with an 8- or a 9-iron, I'd take Nick in that match. But if it's Dustin with a wedge as opposed to a 7- or an 8-iron, then I'm going to take Dustin.

It's not the answer you want. It's very, very complicated. You honestly could make an argument for both ways, so it has to be a blend.

Lucas Glover, when he won here back in 2009, was actually in the total driving metrics was the best, believe it or not, that year. But also he ended up with 69-64 and then defended from there on in.

I think we're all trying to figure that out. It's very unusual set of circumstances. A great golf course, an extremely good field with a focus on only a couple of players, and there's a bunch of spoilers out there that haven't been talked about that are more than capable of winning. I know that's not the answer you want, but...

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