This weekend’s PNC Championship will mark the swan song for long-time NBC analyst Gary Koch but foot-soldier Roger Maltbie will take the equivalent of a “demotion” and stick around a while in 2023.
Maltbie will foot-soldier the U.S. Senior Open, the American Century Classic in Lake Tahoe and some other “lesser” events.
Koch was apparently offered that deal but told Golf Digest: “After being in the majors for 26 years, I don’t have much desire to work in the minors.”
Koch joined NBC in 1997 and enjoyed a marvelous career in the broadcast booth. “I’m going to miss calling golf. I’m going to miss the people—my colleagues, the players, caddies and friends,” Koch said in the same Golf Digest interview. “Not getting to say goodbye to people at certain events is very disheartening. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to reminisce, not necessarily on air, but just to make those last rounds knowing they would be my last.”
NBC implied it wanted to get younger, but bringing in 61-year-old Brad Faxon to replace the 70-year-old Koch doesn’t exactly fit that idea.
“I can only think it has to do with money,” Koch said. “I really don’t know what the justification is. I was told that they wanted to refresh the team and that they were looking at 10-15 years down the road, but then they hired two 60-something guys (Faxon and Curt Byrum), so it’s kind of confusing.”
Where it will get younger is on the ground where 31-year-old Smylie Kaufman is calling it a day on his PGA Tour career to walk and talk as the on-course guy.
Faxon, 61, and Bryum, 63, reportedly are being added to the NBC team as booth announcers along with Smylie Kaufman, 31, who like Byrum is being elevated from Golf Channel to take over Maltbie’s role as an on-course reporter.
Koch is best known for his call at the 2001 Players Championship on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass when Tiger Woods rolled in a monster, triple-breaking birdie putt from the back fringe.
That was the “Better Than Most” call.
And that’s easily a conservative description of Gary Koch’s broadcast career.
Will Zalatoris Marries Caitlin Sellers:
This past Tuesday, Will Zalatoris ran a wedding picture. He has tied the knot with long-time fiancee Caitlin Sellers.
Both Will and Caitlin attended Wake Forest University.
Will is expected to make his return to the PGA Tour at the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in January.
Ashworth Brand Is Back And Freddie Couples Is Still Its Guy:
Ashworth was one of the really popular apparel companies in the late 80s and into the 90s. John Ashworth founded the company in 1987 and Freddie Couples became the face of the company — they basically signed him to a lifetime contract.
Ashworth has been out of the U.S. market but Newtown Group is bringing it back in 2023 and Couples is still the face of the returning apparel brand.
Luke Poulter Wins Collegiate Division at Willow Cup:
Luke Poulter from the University of Florida won the collegiate division at the Willow Cup in Alabama last week. Pouter, the 18-year-old son of LIV defector Ian Poulter, shot nine-under par for 36 holes (67-68).
Sami Valimaki Fires Course-Record 62 At Mauritius Open:
Finland’s Sami Valmaki established a new course record Thursday at the DP World Tour’s Mauritius Open.
The 24-year-old Fin, who finished second at the season-opening Joburg Open last month, fashioned 10 birdies for a 62 that gave him a two-shot lead over playing partner Oliver Bekker of South Africa on the Mont Choisy Le Golf layout.
“It was a really nice round,” Valmaki said after signing for 10-under on the day. “I putted of course really good, made some longer ones – I haven’t made them the last couple of weeks, so it’s nice to get it rolling. “Oli (Bekker) played a really good round as well, so we enjoyed the day. I feel like I found the rhythm and the speed for the greens and that was the key to the day.”
Valimaki is looking for his second DP World Tour win. His plan for the next 54 holes? “Just keep grinding, hitting good shots and just give those opportunities. I still hit the ball really well so just keep making those ones.”
On Friday, Sami cooled off substantially with an even par 72 but still shared the 36-hole lead at 10-under par. He was joined at that number by Antoine Rozner of France, who shot 64 on day two and Alfredo Garcia-Heredia of Spain who shot a second-round 66.