Actor and fellow knight of the British Empire Ben Kingsley insists that people address him as 'sir.' Do we have to call you 'Sir Nick'?
I'm for whatever people are comfortable with. I think on formal occasions it's nice to be addressed with it, but after that I'm quite happy with whatever people call me. For fun, I say people can call me 'Snick.'
Your Golf Channel colleague Kelly Tilghman got in trouble for her 'lynch him in a back alley' comment about Tiger Woods, and fellow commentator Johnny Miller sometimes talks his way into hot water. Are you ever afraid that you're going to slip up and say something on air that gets you in trouble?
Those examples made me realize how delicate it can be, and to make sure not to go in any of those directions. On one side, you should be given some leeway because it's live TV and the job is to rattle away the best you can, and you want to get in-depth on certain things. But if you sense you're going somewhere uncomfortable, just shut up really quickly.
Do you ever think afterward, 'Man, that was a stupid thing I said'?
No, I think I'm doing all right. You do the best you can. It's live, it's instant. I've decided to stick to golf. That's what I'm paid for. Hopefully my experience of being out there can give a bit of insight into what's happening with the players. I don't really have to venture off that.
Are you comfortable criticizing the players?
I'm reporting live golf. If I see a guy hit a really good shot, I explain why it's a good shot, and if I see a guy hit a really lousy shot I say why on that one. I try to be factual. The last thing I want to do is get personal about a guy's swing. But if you're telling the viewer he dropped it inside and got stuck and couldn't finish his swing and the ball's gone out of bounds, that's me describing what's just happened.
How should an American viewer decipher the accents on a CBS Sports golf broadcast?
You've got a pretty good contrast between me, David Feherty from Northern Ireland, Australian Ian Baker-Finch and Mr. Nantz, the all-American smoothie.
How do you look back on your Ryder Cup captaincy?
For me, being there with the team, the 12 guys, the bit I could control, was a great experience. It was fun to be back there as part of the Ryder Cup. I hadn't been there since 1997—my last one was Valderrama. To be thrown in that position was good. I enjoyed it.
What's the over/under on the number of feuds Euro captain Colin Montgomerie will start before this year's Ryder Cup?
[Laughs] I don't know. He's doing his thing. He believes what he's doing is good for the team, and that's what you believe. As I've said before, it's down to the team. It's how keyed up they are and how they perform.
How much do you miss competing?
I made a conscious effort when I went to the booth that I wouldn't sit there and go, 'Oh, I wish I was out there.' There's the odd tournament, though. Like in 2007 at Riviera. I had gotten my last win there 10 years before. The weather was beautiful, the course looked fabulous and I thought, 'Hmmm, I wouldn't mind coming out and playing and just reminiscing.' But I'm not geared up for it now, physically or mentally.
You must have been stunned by Tom Watson at Turnberry last year.
The Watson story was amazing. It's a shame he didn't finish it off. To think, 32 years after his win at Turnberry and 26 years after his last major, to come back out at nearly 60 and beat everybody, purely by the power of the mind. It was just a shame. It went from the greatest story in sports to the biggest heartbreak in sports.
When you tee it up at St. Andrews this year, is there still a glimmer of hope that maybe, if things go right, you could have a chance?
No. I mean, let's get real. If I can make the cut and survive, that's pretty good.