Fox Sports Inks 12-Year Deal for Championship Golf

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The new 12-year pact kicks off in 2015, with Fox and Fox Sports 1 broadcasting tournaments like the U.S. Open. NBC held the rights since 1995.

Fox Sports and the U.S. Golf Association have inked a 12-year pact for comprehensive golf coverage.

Beginning in 2015, the agreement makes Fox and Fox Sports 1 -- the national cable network launching Aug. 17 -- the principal destinations for golf tournaments such as the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open, the U.S. Senior Open Championships, national amateur champions and other live golf content. The deal runs through 2026.

The deal ends NBC Sports' 19-year relationship with the U.S. Open. Also, ESPN will no longer show the first two rounds of the tournament, the second of four majors on the golf calendar, and NBCUniversal's Golf Channel will no longer have the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women's Amateur events.

This is the first time that a premier golf tournament will be broadcast on Fox. Under the pact, Fox Sports will air nearly 150 hours of championship golf.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“This is an exciting and remarkable day for the USGA, as our partnership with Fox Sports is a game-changer for our organization and for the game of golf,” said USGA president Glen Nager. “The game is evolving and requires bold and unique approaches on many levels, and Fox shares our vision to seek fresh thinking and innovative ideas to deliver championship golf. This partnership will help us to better lead and serve the game in new and exciting ways.”

Added Fox Sports co-president and COO Randy Freer: “It’s with tremendous excitement and pride that we’ve added events with the prestige and magnitude of the USGA’s U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open to the big events Fox Sports is set to cover for years to come."

Said Fox Sports co-president and COO Eric Shanks: “We’re looking forward to Fox Sports becoming home to the preeminent golf championship in the world. We’re committed to elevating coverage of USGA events on every level, infusing them with a new energy and innovation that will make every championship the best golf event on television.”

NBC will televise its last U.S. Open from Pinehurst in North Carolina in 2014; Fox’s first tournament in 2015 will come from Chambers Bay outside Seattle.

NBC’s golf coverage is best known for its outspoken lead analyst, former U.S. Open champion Johnny Miller, who has worked for the network since 1990.

“It was a big bummer,” Miller told the Associated Press. “For some reason, I told [partner] Dan Hicks at the U.S. Open this year, ‘I don’t think we’re going to keep the U.S. Open.’ I just had a hunch it would be ESPN or Fox that stepped in and made a high bid. I know we tried.

“I feel bad for the USGA in a way that money was more important than basically a good golf crew.”

NBC still holds the broadcast rights to several PGA Tour tournaments, including the Players Championship, as well as the Ryder Cup.

Mike Barnes contributed to this report.