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Joe Buck and Greg Norman were named the new faces of Fox Sports golf coverage Wednesday.
Buck, a seven-time Emmy Award winner, and Norman, an inductee in the World Golf Hall of Fame, will lead the Fox Sports broadcast team when they take to the green for the USGA Championships in 2015, it was announced in a conference call with network executives.
Calling it a “big day for Fox Sports,” Buck told reporters: “It says a lot about the USGA that they are willing to take this leap with us.”
Buck went on to promise USGA president Tom O’Toole that “he is going to be blown away, as will the golf world, with the effort and the ability that we’re going to throw at this. We’ll push golf coverage like Fox Sports pushed NFL coverage, MLB coverage and NASCAR coverage,” he pledged. “It’s a good partnership both ways.”
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He explained that there is not going to be any quiet lead-in, “When we go on air at Chambers Bay [the location of the 2015 U.S. Open near Seattle] we’re doing the Super Bowl. We’re coming right out of the gate, and it doesn’t get any bigger. We’ve got to be ready, and we will be ready,” he said.
“Greg and I are going to approach this as complete teammates, and what that means for me as far as the mechanics of broadcasting, the oddity of somebody talking in your ear while you’re covering something and you have two trains of thought, I’m there for him, and I’ll give him everything I’ve got,” he said of his former golf pro broadcast partner.
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Norman, 59 — nicknamed the “Great White Shark” because of his blonde hair, size and aggression on the course — echoed Buck’s enthusiasm and explained his broadcasting game plan. “I want it to be very fan-friendly and informative. Being informative is not sugarcoating the situation and not addressing some serious issues that could arise in the game of golf, which we have seen in the past,” he said.
Having won 91 professional events during his career, the former world ranked number one knows what it is like to age on the course, and said that he doesn’t think that Tiger Woods has what it takes to pass Jack Nicklaus‘ record number of 18 career majors.
“No, I do not see that happening. The older he gets, the younger these players get. You’ve got to remember, too, the intimidation factor of that era of players that Tiger grew up in when he was 21 to 30 is not the same because he is now in his high 30s,” he revealed.
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Woods, 38, currently has 14 majors to his name; he missed out on the opportunity of a 15th when he pulled out of the Masters earlier this month due to back surgery for a pinched nerve.
“Your brain is telling you, ‘Yes, you can do it,’ but at the same time, your body is reacting a little bit different than it was in your heyday,” said Norman.
As for the network’s new winning combination, Fox Sports president, COO and executive producer Eric Shanks revealed that the secret to their success is that they respect the sport.
“If you remember, when we first got the NFL, a lot of people were thinking that we were going to come in and do something completely different. There was talk about having Bart Simpson in the booth calling the games, and we went out and got John Madden and Pat Summerall,” he explained. “Greg, just like John, will really set the philosophy for what we do here.”
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