Jim Nantz gave up his role as CBS’ lead college basketball play-by-play announcer after calling UConn’s title victory in April.
Thankfully, he remains the voice of the network’s golf coverage.
A month after failing to close out Masters, Brooks Koepka doesn't let it happen again in PGA Championship
Brooks Koepka shot three rounds in the 60s on his way to a two-stroke PGA Championship victory at Oak Hill Country Club. He led wire to wire on Sunday.
He had the line of the final round Sunday when PGA professional Michael Block delivered the shot of the tourney – a hole-in-one on the fly.
“The fairy-tale story,” Nantz said as Block swung. As the ball landed in the hole and cracked the cup, Nantz added, “gets better!”
Nobody does golf better than Nantz.
The Block party at Oak Hill in Rochester was so huge that it almost overshadowed the fifth major tournament win by Brooks Koepka.
To CBS’ credit, it managed to serve both Block’s incredible story and Koepka’s win very well.
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CBS’ microphones also caught a beautiful moment when Koepka met Block, 46, after finishing his round and telling him, “Heard you’re buying drinks later,” because of the hole-in-one.
Koepka’s win led to something almost as unusual at a PGA event as Block’s hole-in-one. It led Nantz to mention that Koepka had joined the controversial Saudi-backed LIV tour – which guarantees players money – because he had lost his confidence.
I don't remember hearing much, if anything, about LIV during CBS' coverage of The Masters, when Koepka and another LIVer, Phil Mickelson, were in contention before Jon Rahm emerged victorious.
But Nantz realized LIV had to be mentioned Sunday near the end of Koepka’s victory to put his comeback in perspective.
Koepka’s struggles after a knee injury where well-documented in the recent Netflix series “Full Swing.”
That episode is worth another look. Koepka talked openly about where his career was, which endeared him to Daniel Amigone, the Buffalo native who was the program’s senior series producer and did many of the interviews of golfers.
Koepka was one of Amigone’s favorite golfers in the series.
“Brooks was a guy I did not expect to like, just from his public persona,” Amigone said. “I spent a ton of time with him. I did all his interviews and the lion's share of his home scenes and spent a lot of time with his wife and friends. He was struggling a lot, so he was in a vulnerable place, and he was really open. He's someone who I did not expect to get tight with, and was able to.”
Besides the great moment calling Block’s once-in-a-lifetime shot, Nantz did an amazing job Sunday giving golf history lessons about previous PGA championship events at Oak Hill and where Koepka’s fifth major win fit into the sport’s history.
Nantz, who was roommates with Fred Couples at the University of Houston, is an encyclopedia of golf history who amazes by delivering all the information from the top of his head.
He, undoubtedly, may have endeared himself to Western New Yorkers by mentioning that the understandable weather fears about playing the four-day tournament in Rochester in May finally were proved to be unwarranted on Sunday. That’s when a beautiful final day followed some frost, cold and rain on previous days, though it was still playable.
You could say it was fairy-tale weather Sunday for golf in May in Western New York.
But you’ll have to go to social networks to see what, undoubtedly, will be the favorite words spoken about Western New York by Nantz during the week at a private event.
Noting that he founded the Nantz National Alzheimer Center in Houston after his late father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Nantz referenced all the support he received from Bills Mafia after the death of his mother in October before he decided to work a Buffalo Bills game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“The Nantz Center, which is named for my dad, was inundated with donations from the Bills Mafia,” Nantz said. “People would send big donations, big and small, and all said the same thing, ‘The Bills Mafia, thank you, God bless you, Jim. We remember your mom.’ I mean the only team in the NFL, and it wasn’t a handful of people. I’ll never forget that.”
Thanks to Block, Koepka and the CBS team led by Nantz, Rochester and all of Western New York will never forget this tournament.