Tirico, 30, was a studio regular at ESPN for five years (and will continue as the host of ESPN's NFL Prime Monday) before ABC hired him to take over for Brent Musburger, who, as a golf announcer, got abysmal reviews from players and fans. Tirico is not theatrical, and his voice is moderate without being dull. Refreshingly, his sentences include subjects and verbs, as well as facts. We appreciate his telling us that Tiger Woods outdrove Davis Love III by 25 yards on a hole we did not see; we like to know stuff like that. As the rain fell on Sunday, Tirico never babbled to fill time. He gave us useful information on how the Tour handles such situations.
Jennett let us hear Tirico often but didn't show him much. We were treated to disembodied words, spoken with no discernible accent, floating above beautiful pictures of La Costa Resort and Spa, near San Diego. Tirico has a pleasant face, but those of us in frigid climes wanted to see growing grass, flying divots and people in shirtsleeves. And last Saturday, Jennett gave us those images.
Seated beside Tirico was Strange, scheduled to work 10 of ABC's 23 events this year. In his prime Strange was a player of unbridled intensity. So it was weird to hear him singing hymns to nicely lagged 30-footers. Give him time, and he may out- Johnny Miller Johnny Miller, both for candor and for insight.
ABC has been an afterthought in TV golf since 1994, when it lost its contract with the USGA and therefore the U.S. Open. Now the network is fighting to regain its status as a major player and, like the season itself, is off to a good start.
Palmer Flies to Mayo To Fight Prostate Cancer
The day he arrived at La Costa to present the award named after him to the leading money winners on last year's PGA and Senior tours, Arnold Palmer learned that he had cancer of the prostate.
Palmer, 67, has had two blood-screening tests for prostate cancer in the last 18 months that indicated the possible presence of the disease, but biopsies in both cases proved negative. However, last Friday his doctors left an urgent message for Palmer to phone them as soon as he arrived at La Costa. When Palmer called, he learned that a third biopsy had come up positive.
Palmer attended the awards dinner, where he told friends about the cancer. After withdrawing from this week's Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, which he has never missed since it began in 1960, Palmer on Sunday piloted his plane from his home in Orlando to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for tests. According to his spokesman, Doc Giffin, Palmer is confident that the cancer was detected at an early stage and is curable.
Here's Who Hit The First Shot of '97
Because of its location, residents of the Kingdom of Tonga brought in the New Year before people anywhere else in the world, so when John Sharma hit a lovely draw 270 yards down the middle of the fairway on the 470-yard par-5 1st hole at Manamo'ui Golf Course, his was officially the first golf shot of 1997. It came at 7:15 a.m. Tonga time (11:15 a.m. on Dec. 31, EST).