Earlier thismonth, not long after the Golf Channel announced that Nick Faldo would be itslead PGA Tour analyst in 2007, CBS startled the TV sports industry by alsohiring Faldo, to replace Lanny Wadkins in the tower at 18. In addition, Faldo,49, is likely to make a cameo during ABC's coverage of the British Open. SI'sMichael Bamberger checked in with the man who will soon be the most watchedannouncer in golf.
SI: Whatpercentage of TV viewers do you think watch golf telecasts with the volumeoff?
NF: Tough to say.Maybe 20%? I want 100% listening to me. I'll use hand signals if I have to.
SI: You'll beEuropean Ryder Cup captain in 2008. You said that you'd take your chances onthe '06 team after a change of clothes and a "cat's lick." What is acat's lick?
NF: It's Britishslang for a quick wash under the armpits.
SI: The CBS crewwill be accent city with you, Ian Baker-Finch, David Feherty and PeterOosterhuis. Do you think Americans will have a hard time deciphering whatyou're saying?
NF: Subtitlesmight be necessary, but the interpreter will have to be good.
SI: Do you thinkFeherty is on performance-enhancing drugs?
NF: He's alwaysbeen like that. We were playing this ridiculous downhill par-3, and we'd hittwo-irons that were in the air forever. He said, with the ball in the air,"If it were coal, it'd turn into a diamond by now."
SI: Who do youthink is the best announcer in golf?
NF: Johnny[Miller], because he calls it as he sees it. At least he's been the best.
SI: How manymajors will you work in '07?
NF: Four. I'llwork the Masters and the PGA for CBS, the U.S. Open for the Golf Channel, andI'll play in the British Open.
SI: Ken Venturi,your predecessor's predecessor, was famous for his Kennyisms. "Touch ofclass," for example. Do you have a favorite Kennyism?
NF: I was neverone to watch much golf on TV, but I liked, "You got to take your hat off tohim." And, "He'll bring it in high." Even for nine-iron shots.
SI: Are thereNickisms?
NF: Not that I'maware of.
SI: What about,"Simple as that."
NF: Really? I'llwatch for that.
SI: You have aHollywood look-alike in Harrison Ford. Have you and he ever been in the sameroom?
NF: Not that Iknow of. Once he left a party in Jamaica before I arrived, and people said,"Oh, did you forget something?"
SI: Could he fillin for you in the booth?
NF: Only if it'sdark.
SI: You'redesigning courses in different parts of the world and have one in the works inChina. Do you think the Chinese will become good golfers?
NF: Oh, yes. Frommartial arts, they're very disciplined in the mind, a bit of that Zenthing--mental strength and balance in equal parts. In 20 years it wouldn'tsurprise me to see five to seven Chinese players on the PGA Tour.
SI: Donald Trumpthinks golf will take off in China because the Chinese love to gamble.
NF: There's that,too.
SI: Who's yourbet as the next European to win the Masters?
NF: That's tough.We need them to take the mind-set they have in the Ryder Cup and apply it tothe majors.
SI: We're lookingfor names. Sergio? Paul Casey? Ian Poulter?
NF: I'd betternot name names. The British media have a field day with that sort of thing.
SI: How will yoube different from Johnny Miller as an announcer?
NF: Johnny'sgreat, but I'll do it my way. I think of it not as a golf broadcast but asentertainment, for three to five hours. I need to make sure I'm quick,informative, serious when that's what's called for, funny when that's the righttone. I'd like to offer a bit of instruction. You have to be sharp, and youhave to be entertaining. Simple as that.
"We were playing this ridiculous downhill par-3,and we'd hit two-irons that were in the air forever. [Feherty] said, with theball in the air, 'If it were COAL, IT'D TURN INTO A DIAMOND by now.'"
RICHARD HEATHCOTE/GETTY IMAGES
CHANGE OF COURSE Forget the Champions tour: Faldo, who turns 50 in July, will be too busy announcing.