Another year, another incredible and exhausting stretch for CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz — calling the Final Four and Masters in consecutive weekends.
“The transition from the Final Four to the Masters is, physically, if you let it weigh on you, you could convince yourself very quickly that you’re too tired and you’re running on fumes and all that kind of negativity,” said Nantz, who arrived in Augusta with his family Tuesday after calling Virginia’s victory over Texas Tech the night before. “But I just look at it as a blessing that I have a chance to be at these fantastic, fabulous events in consecutive weeks.”
Nantz, a former college golfer at Houston and suitemate of Fred Couples, is working his 34th Masters and is unquestionably the voice of the game. He doesn’t require a lot of prep time.
“The preparation is easier in this sense: I’ve spent my whole life preparing to call the Masters,” said Nantz, who also called this year’s AFC title game and Super Bowl. “It was a lifelong goal starting at the age of 11, that began the crazy obsession that this is what I wanted to do one day. I wanted to work for CBS. I wanted to be able to broadcast the Masters. I loved the way CBS broadcast the NFL. I wanted to be one of those voices.”
He and his wife, Courtney, travel with their daughter, Finley, 5, and son, Jameson, 3. Jim’s daughter, Caroline, a USC graduate, was in Minneapolis for the Final Four but had to return to Los Angeles this week for work.
“I have a wife that takes very good care of me and makes sure that I rest and eat properly, and that my family and children are happy,” Nantz said. “That’s the foundation.”
Italy’s Francesco Molinari, the defending British Open champion, shot a 67 in the second round to head into the weekend at seven under. His best finish at the Masters was a tie for 19th in 2012. But in the 2006 Masters, he caddied for his older brother, Edoardo, who qualified by winning the 2005 U.S. Amateur.
In keeping with Masters tradition, the reigning amateur champion was paired for the first two rounds with the tournament’s defending champion. That means Edoardo played with Tiger Woods (who was outdueled by Francesco at Carnoustie last year).
Francesco conceded Friday that he didn’t particularly enjoy caddying for his brother in the 2006 Masters.
“Not because — I love being here and I love caddying for my brother, but it was just so hard to give him clubs,” he said. “It seemed a bit of a nightmare, you know, standing with the bag, waiting for him to hit the shots. So that's the main memory that I have from that year.”
Keeps it rolling
Devon Bling, the sophomore from UCLA, got off to a rough start Friday after ending his opening round with a double bogey. He began the second round bogey, bogey, before consecutive birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. Bling finished with a 73, one stroke better than his first round, and made the cut at three over.
“I handled myself in all these difficult situations,” he said. “I handled myself really well, and I’m overall pretty pleased.”