By Dave Shedloski
The 99th playing of the PGA Championship begins Thursday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, and for the 27th consecutive year, CBS Sports will provide extensive coverage of the year’s final major.
Under the direction of Coordinating Producer Lance Barrow, CBS Sports will produce coverage of all four rounds that will air not only on CBS but also on TNT Thursday and Friday. CBS Sports broadcasts the third and final rounds on Saturday and Sunday from 2-7 p.m. EDT. In addition, CBS Sports will broadcast highlights of the early rounds on Thursday and Friday from 12:35-1:05 a.m., and CBS Sports Network will provide supporting coverage throughout.
>>WATCH: PGA Championship Live Stream
Jim Nantz, three-time Emmy Award-winner and five-time National Sportscaster of the Year, once again will serve as anchor, and will be joined in the 18th tower by lead analyst, Sir Nick Faldo, winner of six majors. Ian Baker-Finch will call the action at the 17th hole; Gary McCord at the 16th hole; Frank Nobilo at the 15th hole; Verne Lundquist at the 14th hole and Bill Macatee at the 13th hole. Dottie Pepper and Peter Kostis will serve as on-course reporters. Reporter Amanda Balionis will provide interviews at the Smartcart.
Quail Hollow Club has been the venue for several events, including the annual Wells Fargo Championship since 2003, when David Toms won the first edition. Since then, other winners have included Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy, who twice has won it and set the course record of 61 in 2015. Interestingly, McIlory, a two-time PGA winner, also holds the record for the largest margin of victory in the championship, which he set in 2012 at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Thanks to changes undertaken by architect Tom Fazio and his team, Quail Hollow Club has been lengthened to 7,600 yards and will play to a par-71 (instead of 72 during the PGA TOUR event). New holes were built at Nos. 1, 4 and 5, and some modifications were made at the ninth and 11th holes. Also, the bunkering was updated, and all the greens were resurfaced with a new Bermuda grass, Champion Ultradwarf Bermuda.
These are not the first changes to the George Cobb design that opened in 1961. Fazio also completed a renovation in 1997, and the late Arnold Palmer supervised modifications in 1986.
The primary story of the week — though not the only one — is Jordan Spieth’s pursuit of the career grand slam. At 24 years old, Spieth will attempt to become the sixth player, and youngest, to win all four major titles after capturing the British Open last month.
Nantz, Faldo and Pepper discussed multiple topics during a recent conference call previewing the year’s final major.
>>MORE: Golf Expert Interviews
On Jordan Spieth Going For The Career Grand Slam:
Jim Nantz: Just imagine the chance to tell the story of something that would set the all-time record in the history of the sport — a one-shot deal at being the youngest to ever win the career grand slam. I’m not sure the fringe fan or even the media that doesn’t cover golf on a regular basis realizes that golf could be on the precipice of one of the greatest achievements in the history of the sport. And it’s a responsibility we’re really happy to have in our hands.
Nick Faldo: Like many, I’m still recovering from what he did at The Open. What he did was amazing. Jordan handles things differently. He’s able to put his mind to the next task. This is all part of a bigger goal. … If you set this as a mission, as a goal in your life, this is what’s so incredible at a tender young age, that he’s able to deal with it. But what is he, 24? … In theory he could have another 10-15 years of incredible golf.
Dottie Pepper: There’s a chance for this kid — and he is just a kid — to really change the way people think about golf right now and to put it back in that Tiger [Woods] mode from 2000.
On Quail Hollow As A Championship Site:
Jim Nantz: Before Quail Hollow even had the PGA Championship, we said dozens of times that this is a major championship venue. Just the way things fall into place. I’m so happy for Charlotte, for [owner] Johnny Harris and all the people involved in that golf community. They’re getting the big one. They’re not only getting the PGA Championship, but they’re also getting one of the most historic moments in the history of sports.
Nick Faldo: It’s going to be very physical for the week. It’s hot. It’s August. It’s an extremely long golf course. Very long par-4s. Is it going to be a power play? Cutting the par-4s down to size is going to be the real key to the golf course. It seems on paper it could come down to a real power game.
Dottie Pepper: It’s important to note that there was kind of a soft start to Quail Hollow before the changes were made, and now you are looking at a first hole that’s over 500 yards at a par-4. That sets the tone for what will be a difficult week. Nine and 18 are tough finishes. You have to put the ball in play. It sets up for what a major championship should be.
On Rory McIlroy’s Caddie Change:
Nick Faldo: Rory will turn this into a positive. He wanted a change in the camp, for whatever reason. But Rory is good at turning this into a motivation. He’s saying, ‘I know what I’m doing, I wanted a breath of fresh air.’ It’s motivation to show everybody he knows what he’s up to.
Dottie Pepper: Every time I made a caddie change, to me it was an ownership thing. It was kind of a mind brightener. You had to own your numbers, own your thoughts and own all of your own strategy. It does put yourself on notice that it’s about time to take ownership of what you’ve got going.
On The Difficulty Of Winning The Career Grand Slam. Only Five Players Have Done It (Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen and Gary Player):
Nick Faldo: The fact that we’re on four completely different surfaces, you’re going to get thrown four completely different puzzles. And to get yourself physically, mentally and technically in tune for all those — and you’ve got to fend off all the other golfers — it’s an amazing achievement. It was a goal of mine. I would love to have achieved the career grand slam. I take my hat off to the men who have done it.
Dottie Pepper: Guys like Jordan Spieth, what was their bar when they were growing up and learning the game? Their bar was Tiger Woods. The attitude of so many players is that he could do it, so that is what’s expected of me now. And I can do it. It’s changed the way people think about what is achievable.
Jim Nantz: It’s just happened so few times. You look at the names. It’s a Mount Rushmore. You can make an argument for those who were only able to acquire three of them, players like Palmer and [Lee] Trevino. You could be completely blown away by the quality of the players who won three of them. So [winning all four] is a rare act. It’s a rare accomplishment.
Journalist and author David Shedloski of Columbus, Ohio, has been covering golf since 1986, first as a daily newspaper reporter and later as a freelance writer for various magazines and Internet outlets. A winner of 23 national writing awards, including 20 for golf coverage, Shedloski is currently a contributing writer for Golf World and GolfDigest.com and serves as editorial director for The Memorial, the official magazine of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. He is the author of three books and has contributed to three others, including the second edition of “Golf For Dummies,” with Gary McCord. He’s a fan of all Cleveland professional sports teams, the poor fellow.