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ESPN’s Smith, singer Horan hit high notes at the Masters

Reporter, entertainer team for golf fandom ESPN Social video debuting this week

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Irish singer and songwriter Niall Horan is known to millions of fans around the world, not only as part of the group One Direction but also for his solo career.

But what isn’t as well-known is Horan’s love of golf. This week, ESPN viewers will be introduced to that aspect of Horan in a promotional video shot at Augusta National Golf Club. The video, which will air in different versions across ESPN social platforms, will promote the network’s coverage of the Masters Tournament.

Horan, pro golfer Jason Day and SportsCenter reporter Marty Smith spent a Saturday at Augusta National for some low-key chipping, putting and driving while Smith interviewed Horan about golf.

Creative Works, ESPN’s award-winning in-house creative agency, partnered with production company Winter Films to shoot and produce the video. It will appear on ESPN’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat social media platforms this week, with portions also expected to air during SportsCenter at the Masters on television.

“This project was truly a cross-departmental team effort between Sports Marketing, Creative Works, Production, Social and Communications, as well as our counterparts at Augusta National,” Claire Miller, associate manager, ESPN Sports Marketing, said.

“The idea originally came up during a meeting back in September, when our marketing team and Creative Works discussed potential ways to help get younger ESPN users excited about the Masters Tournament and engage with golf content on our platforms. Pairing Marty with Niall, and allowing them to show off their golf fandom and skills while on site at Augusta, felt like an authentic way to accomplish this.”

ESPN and ESPN Deportes will air live coverage of the first and second rounds of the Masters on Thursday and Friday, April 5-6, from 3-7:30 p.m. ET. For details on today’s Masters Par 3 Contest coverage, visit ESPN MediaZone.

In His Own Words: Marty Smith on Working With Niall Horan
ESPN’s Marty Smith (L) writes that singer Niall Horan’s (R) “passion for, and intelligence about, growing the game of golf is palpable.” (Photo courtesy of Marty Smith/ESPN)

First of all, it’s humbling to be at Augusta National at all — the feeling that place produces is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever experienced — much less in a professional capacity in which you can stand on the grounds, be immersed in the history, walk with the ghosts. So just to be there is a thrill.

Add to it my favorite part of this job — learning about people, their stories, and passions — and it makes for a memorable moment. And to spend time learning from and about someone like Niall, who is internationally revered and adored by millions, is fascinating. He’s cool, very unassuming and kind.

His passion for, and intelligence about, growing the game of golf is palpable. He doesn’t just say he cares about the game. He truly cares. I appreciate him taking time to share that with me.

And trust me, he can bomb it off the tee, too. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more uncomfortable than teeing it up on the driving range at Augusta, with professional caddies watching, only to duff it straight in the sand trap.