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Gary McCord knows his role as he returns to golf broadcasting: 'I'm there to step into the chaos and keep it going'

November 23, 2020

Stan Badz

Having been out of the broadcasting game for more than a year, Gary McCord can be excused for not knowing some of the finer details of his latest assignment as an on-course reporter for “Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Change” this Friday on TNT. For instance, he wasn’t quite sure if the third iteration of the franchise was to be played over nine or 18 holes.

Then he decided it didn’t really matter. “What the hell, you know me. I’ll talk for as long as they want me to talk,” the always-engaging septuagenarian said via phone from his home in Scottsdale.

Twitter would not find this fact in dispute.

For 35 years McCord was a wise-cracking one-liner machine for CBS Sports’ golf coverage until the network decided late last year to not renew his contract (or that of colleague and Scottsdale sidekick Peter Kostis). It was a sensational run for the former PGA Tour player who won twice on the PGA Tour Champions but truly found his calling once he stepped up to a microphone.

“The Match III” features five-time major champion Phil Mickelson teamed with TNT NBA commentator and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley against three-time NBA champion Stephen Curry and former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, a two-time Super Bowl winner. Proceeds primarily will benefit Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The first edition of “The Match” was staged the day after Thanksgiving two years ago when Mickelson defeated longtime rival Tiger Woods at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas in a $9 million winner-take-all event. In May, Woods and Manning teamed up in a second edition, beating Mickelson and Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady at Medalist Club in Florida that raised money for COVID-19 relief.

McCord, 72, said the offer to work this event, which will be held within driving distance of his home at Stone Canyon Golf Club in Oro Valley, Ariz., “came way out of left field.” He agreed to participate for one simple reason. “Well, I’m doing OK, I’m not dead, but I am kind of bored,” he said. “I’ve had a year off, so … you know that whole deal. This should be entertaining.”

McCord still plays plenty of golf, mainly at Whisper Rock in Scottsdale, a haven for tour players and current and former athletes. But he can’t help but think his gift for gab should be the gift he keeps giving. McCord will co-host a one-hour program next year on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio. He also is teaming with Kostis and a few others on another entertainment project that he is not yet at liberty to disclose. His role, naturally, is to be “the creative guy.”

Well, of course. And he will try to be as creative as possible on Friday when Mickelson and crew are not trash talking to one another.

“That’s what we’re waiting to hear,” McCord said. “You know Phil is going to be in the middle of it. I was texting Charles during the telecast in May [Barkley was part of the broadcast crew] and told him he nailed it when he said, ‘We all have that friend who’s annoying; that’s Phil.’ So my deal is to prompt Phil when Charles drives into the desert and then just let him go.

“I’m not there to tell you, ‘Wow, he’s got an 8-iron from 180 yards.’ I’m there to step into the chaos and keep it going. I can still do that. I can do that all day.”