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Researcher serves as information pipeline for ESPN’s golf crew

Chris Fallica (L) and Trey Wingo at The Open Championship (Chris Wondoloski/ESPN)
Chris Fallica (L) and Trey Wingo at The Open Championship (Chris Wondoloski/ESPN)

When viewers tune in to watch ESPN’s live, four-day coverage of The Open Championship this week, one person who plays a major role in what they will see on the screen and hear from the announcers is someone who won’t be seen on-camera.

Chris Fallica, senior researcher in ESPN’s production research group, is responsible for putting together notes and statistics that are used as on-screen graphics and by the on-air announcers.

“The full variety of bios, notes, stats, graphics, sheets, articles, you name it, and myself and the other researchers involved in the project take care of it,” he said.

During the telecasts, Fallica is in the main booth, constantly handing notes to anchor Mike Tirico and analyst Paul Azinger.

“Stats, trends, things like that, that might help,” he said. “If you’re sitting at home watching and thinking, ‘Wow, everyone’s struggling with 17 today,’ well maybe that’s the case and maybe we can offer you up something that supports that.”

Fallica got his break while a student at the University of Miami when he worked as a statistician during the telecast of a Knicks-Heat NBA game and met Mike Breen, now ESPN’s lead NBA voice. Breen helped Fallica, a New York native, land a summer internship at WFAN Radio in New York and connections he made there helped him land his first job at ESPN in 1996.

After starting with ESPN Radio, Fallica went on to become a researcher for College GameDay, which he still does today in addition to working on golf.

Though the ESPN golf crew works very long days at The Open, including 11 hours on the air for the first two days, Fallica considers it a labor of love.

“To essentially sit and watch golf and work on it, to watch something you played growing up and you’re a fan of, it’s just a really enjoyable process and everyone involved in the project is so much fun to work with,” he said.

“To have grown up and watched guys like Andy North and Paul Azinger and Curtis Strange, people like that on the golf course, and people I admire and really have a lot of respect for what they did, and then be able to work with them some 20 years later, it’s pretty cool.”

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