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Faldo quickly changed from a golfer to gofer

Times Staff Writer

Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo, now partners on CBS golf telecasts, were only acquaintances in 1993, so what Faldo did that year in New Orleans caught Nantz off guard.

Nantz was there to announce the NCAA Final Four with Billy Packer. Faldo was in New Orleans to play in a PGA tournament.

Nantz said he was on the air announcing the Kansas-North Carolina semifinal when a CBS executive, Len DeLuca, now with ESPN, approached him during a break.

“Lenny said Nick Faldo was at the press entrance saying I was supposed to have left him three credentials for him and two friends,” Nantz said Thursday on the phone from Tulsa, Okla., where he was preparing for this weekend’s PGA Championship telecasts. “I said, ‘What?’ I had no idea what he was talking about.”

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But DeLuca, who is known for accomplishing the impossible, came up with the three credentials.

Between games, Faldo came over to Nantz to thank him. “I asked him what was going on,” Nantz said, “and he told me, ‘I wanted to get into the arena and your name is the only one I knew.’ ”

Faldo was credentialed as a CBS runner.

“He asked if he could do anything for Billy and me, so I asked him to get us a couple of ice cream cones. And he did.

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“I also told him, ‘Someday you’re going to be trying to win the British Open on a Sunday and I’m going to send someone over to ask you about the credentials you were supposed to have left for me.’ ”

Tiki’s wild ride

Everyone has bad days.

Even Tiki Barber.

Barber, the former New York Giants running back who now works for NBC, had one Wednesday.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it,” he said. He had missed a lunch interview -- by a lot. He also had to cancel afternoon appearances on the NFL Network in Culver City and FSN’s “Best Damn Sports Show Period” on the Fox lot in West Los Angeles.

First, the car service, scheduled to arrive at Barber’s Manhattan apartment at 6 a.m., never showed. The thunderstorms in the New York area -- “It was a monsoon,” Barber said -- probably had something to do with that.

Barber eventually hailed a cab to take him and his wife, Ginny, to JFK Airport, where they were scheduled to take a 7:45 a.m. flight to Los Angeles. But then the cab stalled while going through a badly flooded area on the Jackie Robinson Parkway.

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“A good Samaritan in a pickup truck pushed the cab out of the water, but the cab still wouldn’t start,” Barber said.

When the good Samaritan realized the passengers in the cab were Barber and his wife, he offered to take them to the airport. But road closings presented more problems, and it was 8:40 by the time they got to the airport. However, because all flights were delayed, they made it just in time to get on their plane. Then another problem arose as the plane waited to take off.

“A female passenger had a nervous breakdown, so we had to go back to the gate,” Barber said.

He and his wife arrived in L.A. three hours later than scheduled, only to discover their luggage had been lost. They spent the rest of the day shopping for clothes since Barber was to be a guest on Jay Leno’s show Thursday.

“The day wasn’t all bad as far as my wife was concerned,” Barber said. “She got to go shopping on Rodeo Drive.”

Short waves

It has been confusing watching Angels telecasts this season. Sometimes the announcers are Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler. Other times it’s Jose Mota and Mark Gubicza. Another change is coming for the Angels’ three-game series at Toronto beginning Tuesday. Radio announcer Rory Markas is moving to television to work with Gubicza for those three games. Tom Feuer, FSN West executive producer, calls it an “experimental year,” adding, “We’re trying different mixing and matching.”

FSN West has the Galaxy’s game at New England on Sunday at 4 p.m., and on the “Galaxy Live” pregame show at 3, Jim Watson interviews David Beckham. . . . An interview Charley Steiner did with Jeff Kent will be on the “Dodgers Live” postgame show on FSN Prime Ticket on Wednesday.

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When Barry Bonds hit home run No. 756 Tuesday night, the local FSN Bay Area telecast averaged a 7.2 rating, which jumped to 11.1 after the homer. . . . When the Giants were at Dodger Stadium last week, the Thursday night game got a 4.9 rating on Prime Ticket, which was the regional network’s all-time high Dodgers rating.

In her latest contribution, ESPN ombudsman Lee Anne Schreiber, suggesting less might be more, says the network should consider adding a “crisp, half-hour, nightly version of SportsCenter -- just news and highlights.” That’s the idea behind FSN’s late-night “Final Score,” and its ratings have doubled since April.

After a month’s vacation in Greece, Lakers radio announcer Spero Dedes will do the play by play for Saturday’s Washington-Tennessee exhibition game on the NFL Network at 5 p.m. . . . Channel 5 will televise the Oakland Raiders in high definition during the exhibition season, beginning with Saturday’s 7 p.m. game against Arizona. . . . The Raiders’ radio outlet in L.A. is now 97.1. . . . KSPN 710 will begin broadcasting the Chargers in the regular season once it is done with the Angels.

larry.stewart@latimes.com


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