The competition for one of the best jobs in golf television is about to begin.
NBC Sports plans to rotate multiple analysts over the coming months rather than hire a single one to replace the departed Paul Azinger, sources tell Front Office Sports.
Among those expected to get a shot are current PGA Tour player Kevin Kisner, NBC’s Brad Faxon and Justin Leonard, outspoken Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, and former world No. 1 David Duval.
Former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy could also be a candidate for the vacant role, according to Sports Business Journal, but could end up calling only a handful of events.
The analyst who impresses golf viewers and executives the most would inherit the legendary Johnny Miller’s microphone in the 18th-hole broadcast tower alongside play-by-play announcer Dan Hicks.
“Think of this as a rolling audition by NBC,” said one source.
The talent bakeoff strategy makes sense. NBC doesn’t want to repeat the blunder it made by hiring Azinger to replace Miller, who retired in 2018 after 29 seasons in the broadcast booth.
Over five disappointing seasons, viewers mocked his analysis. He was frequently wrong in his predictions. The network dropped him in November.
Now NBC can start fresh. The 39-year-old Kisner, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, is poised to serve as an analyst for NBC’s coverage of the season-opening kickoff event in Hawaii from Jan. 4-7. He’ll also work NBC’s coverage in Phoenix from Feb. 8-11.
“I have always found Kevin to be very forthright, honest, and fearless when sharing his thoughts and opinions about the game, whether it’s in a conversation on the driving range or during his pre- and post-round press conferences,” NBC’s lead golf producer Tommy Roy said in a statement. “We think his style will translate well to the viewers at home and we’re excited to have him join the NBC Sports broadcast team at The Sentry and the WM Phoenix Open.”
Ideally, NBC wants to settle on a new No. 1 analyst before it televises two major tournaments this summer: the U.S. Open in June and The Open Championship in July.
The problem for Kisner, Faxon and Chamblee is that TV networks typically prefer their top analysts to be major winners, like Trevor Immelman of CBS Sports, a former Masters champion, or ESPN’s Andy North, a two-time U.S. Open champion.
While Kisner and Faxon haven’t won a major, Leonard and Duval captured the 1997 and 2001 Open Championships, respectively.
NBC declined to comment on the search for a new No. 1 analyst.