Catch And Release – FOX Sports Unhooks Greg Norman
FOX Sports deliberately went out last year to catch a Shark. As it turns out, the Shark’s on-air performance in delivering golf to the masses didn’t have the expected bite.
Greg Norman is out.
The iconic golfer was considered a huge acquisition to FOX’s foray into televising the sport after the network landed the USGA contract, which included the men’s, women’s and senior U.S. Opens.
The problem? Norman wasn’t ready for primetime.
The 2-time major winner was expected to bring some much needed support and commentary while being paired with Joe Buck, who was just getting his feet wet in broadcasting the sport last year.
A source, who asked not to be identified, told Golf.com that Norman wasn’t very good on the air because “he didn’t do his homework and he didn’t know any players who weren’t Australian.” Norman just wasn’t engaged in any of the FOX telecasts the way the network had hoped, the source said.
“It was tough for the whole staff because he wasn’t involved in the shows like a lead analyst should be,” the source said. “Maybe he thought just being Greg Norman was enough. He’s been successful in everything he’s done in business but he wasn’t good at TV. He was a team player but when the cameras turned on, he just went silent.”
Many TV execs felt Norman dropped the ball during the drama on the 72nd hole in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. After Dustin Johnson played an exquisite 5-iron shot to the green and then three-putted for a bogey to lose the Open to Jordan Spieth, Norman said very little to set up the situation or explain it.That was a big eye-opener for everyone, the source said. The U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club was another instance where Norman went MIA on the air that led to Brad Faxon, a former PGA Tour player stationed at the 17th hole, providing an unusual share of the analysis and commentary because Norman wasn’t chiming in.
Norman reacted to the change after one year on the job by stating, “I put a lot into my role this past year and really enjoyed the time I spent with the commentary team, I have a long history with FOX and wish them well on their journey showcasing USGA Championships. I also want to thank David Hill (former Head of FOX Sports) and the USGA for believing in me and instilling their vote of confidence in me from the outset.”