PINEHURST, N.C. – Chris Berman, who will host ESPN’s live coverage of the first two rounds of the U.S. Open from North Carolina’s Pinehurst No. 2 on Thursday and Friday, will be covering the event for ESPN for the 29th year.
Although the U.S. Open is the only golf event Berman works all year for ESPN, he closely follows the sport year-round and plays in at least four Pro-Ams at PGA TOUR events annually, providing many opportunities to build relationships inside the ropes.
And his passion for the U.S. Open runs deep.
“It’s such a difficult event, because par is a good score,” he said. “You have to be exact. One little mental slip-up is a double bogey and there goes the tournament.”
Berman has many fond memories, including interactions with golfers and fans.
One memory is from 2010 at Pebble Beach, when Berman and booth analyst Roger Maltbie watched as golfer Y.E. Yang struggled at the course’s difficult 14th hole.
“If you miss to the left of the green, it’ll roll all the way down to the base,” Berman said. “Yang putts it up the slope, but it rolls back to his feet like a ball return. So he stares at it for like 10 seconds as if [to say], ‘You’re kidding me, right?’”
Yang got a wedge from his caddie.
“Then he chips [the shot] up to the top of the little ridge, but it goes back exactly where it was. He stares at it a little bit, maybe 15 seconds, his eyes burning a hole in the ball, and he stares at his bag, and then his caddie,” Berman said. “You could see he didn’t know what he wanted to do, and I said on the air, ‘Now what, the umbrella?’”
The lighthearted moment in the throes of serious competition was noted by some of the golfers watching the telecast, including Lee Westwood, who later that evening saw Berman in a group of people and told him the off-the-cuff remark made him fall off of his couch in laughter.
“Roger and I have had fun with our ‘Happy Hour’, 5 o’clock-until-sign off [coverage] on Thursday and Friday, and we always look forward to it,” Berman said.
Both Thursday and Friday, ESPN’s live U.S. Open coverage begins at 9 a.m. ET (ESPN, WatchESPN; Thursday’s 5-6 p.m. coverage will air on ESPN2).
Editor’s Note: Wednesday on Front Row, Berman shares his U.S. Open memories of Payne Stewart.