Fox Sports will announce four new additions to its golf broadcast team Wednesday, including two high profile former U.S. Open champions, Golf.com can reveal.
Corey Pavin, the 1995 Open champion, and Juli Inkster, a two-time winner of the Women’s U.S. Open, are joining the team that will be led by Hall of Famer Greg Norman and Fox’s lead sports anchor Joe Buck. Fox will also announce the signing of four-time PGA Tour winner Steve Flesch and Shane O’Donoghue, host of CNN’s Living Golf show and a regular contributor to Golf.com.
In 2013 Fox Sports signed a 12-year, $1 billion deal to broadcast USGA events, replacing NBC Sports, which has broadcast every U.S. Open since 1995. Fox Sports will make its major debut at the 2015 U.S. Open, which will be held at Chambers Bay in Washington June 18-21. Other members of the Fox Sports roster include PGA Tour veteran Brad Faxon, ex-Golf Channel host Holly Sonders, and David Fay, former USGA executive director.
“I feel really good about this crew,” Mark Loomis, coordinating golf producer for Fox Sports, told Golf.com. “One of the reasons we have been taking our time is that we’re putting a team, not just a bunch of individuals, together. We went about it slowly and deliberately, and I think this group we’re adding today all complement the team really well.
Pavin will serve as a studio analyst at the U.S. Open, while Inkster will be an on-course analyst at the U.S. Open and an analyst at the U.S. Women’s Open. Flesch, who has spent several seasons working with Golf Channel, will work as a hole announcer for most of the USGA events.
O’Donoghue will be the number two man in the booth, as well as contributing video features and essays daily. A veteran of the BBC golf team who has hosted CNN’s Living Golf for the past four years, O’Donoghue will step in when Buck takes a break during lengthy U.S. Open broadcasts, and will share play-by-play duties with Buck at other USGA events.
“I’m just over the moon. It’s a dream come true to be working with Fox Sports in this new adventure,” O’Donoghue said from his home in Dublin, Ireland. “They’re very serious about their commitment to golf, and they’ve proven themselves to be game changers. To be from Ireland, I think I can bring something new because I’ve been following Rory [McIlroy] and Graeme [McDowell], who’ve both won the U.S. Open, along with Padraig [Harrington] and Darren [Clarke] for a long time.”
Pavin, 55, now plays on the Champions Tour. He won 15 times on the PGA Tour, including a dramatic win over Norman at the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in New York. Inkster is an LPGA legend, still playing at age 54, 30 years into a professional career that has seen her win seven majors. She has a mantle full of USGA trophies. In addition to her 1999 and 2002 U.S. Women’s Open wins, she claimed three consecutive U.S. Women’s Amateur titles from 1980-1982. The last of her 31 LPGA Tour wins came 8 years ago. Flesch had an injury-plagued career and has not won since his two-victory season in 2007. O’Donoghue, a longtime professional broadcaster, says his biggest win was Best Net at a provincial schools championship in 1988.
The first USGA event Fox Sports will broadcast is the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball on May 2-6 at Olympic Club in San Francisco with Buck and Norman in the booth. Loomis says his team will be motivated to live up to the reputation Fox Sports has built with its history televising football and baseball, but the golf telecasts won’t be different just for the sake of being different.
“I used to work with Keith Jackson, and he used to say, ‘Just because we’ve been doing it for a long time doesn’t make it wrong,’” Loomis said. “As much as we want to be different, every step along the way we need to think: Are we doing this to be different or are we doing this because it’s good? We always have that in mind, but we will definitely be doing things in the Fox tradition that hopefully make the telecasts more fun and entertaining.”