Veteran ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman has broadcasted some of sports’ biggest events. Over his 38-year career, Berman has been a part of Monday Night Football, multiple World Series and 34 Super Bowls, but he says that the U.S. Open is “up there with all of them.”
The six-time National Sportscaster of the year recently talked with GOLF.com and says he cherishes the 29 consecutive U.S. Open broadcasts he’s been a part of. Berman’s first Open was in 1986 when Raymond Floyd won his fourth and final major at Shinnecock Hills, though his favorite was 1999 at Pinehurst.
Berman recalled his time with eventual winner Payne Stewart, who he followed every day that week in North Carolina.
“On Saturday [Stewart] turns to me and says, ‘Hey Chris … have a really good day … OK?'” Berman said.
Berman says prior to Sunday’s final round, Stewart was not hitting the ball well on the driving range. As Stewart left the range for the first tee, Berman got his attention.
“I said to him, ‘Hey Payne’ … and he wheels around and I say, ‘Have a really good day.’ And he smiled that jack-o-lantern smile and says, ‘You know what … thanks Chris, I will.'”
Stewart went on to win the U.S. Open by one stroke over Phil Mickelson.
Tragically, less than five months later, Stewart died in a plane crash at the age of 42.
“Less than six months later, his plane crash was on a Monday, and I’m announcing it on Monday Night Football,” Berman said. “What started out as a golf story was a life story and makes you not take every day for granted. Things can happen, so enjoy it when you can.”
As fate would have it, Berman was forced to remember those words: exactly one week after his interview with GOLF.com, his wife Kathy was tragically killed in a car accident. She was 67 years old.
You can watch the full interview below.