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PGA Championship 2024: Jim Nantz reveals the tear-jerking origin of 'Hello friends' at Hazeltine in 2002

Jim Nantz has a few catchphrases to his name—“a tradition unlike any other” and “a return to glory!” will echo on for decades to come—but perhaps none more iconic than “Hello friends.” For over 20 years, Nantz’s folksy greeting has heralded the start of major championship golf, March Madness, Super Bowls and countless other sporting events, but it all began on a Saturday afternoon in 2002, when Nantz welcomed viewers to third-round coverage of the PGA Championship with the first iteration of his signature saying.

On Saturday at Valhalla, 22 years after that fateful day at Hazeltine, Nantz recalled the inspiration for his trademark greeting, and the story is just as humble and moving as the words themselves.

With his dad, Jim Nantz Sr., suffering from Alzheimer’s, Nantz told his father that when he came on the air that weekend, he was going to say, “Hello friends, I’m Jim Nantz” as both a greeting to his father and a tribute to the name he would carry with him forever.

“I wanted to give him something, on the air, that let him know I was channeling him in that moment,” Nantz explained.

Nantz has told this story before, specifically in a 2018 Golf Digest column where he revealed what he said to his father that day.

“Just listen this weekend,” he wrote. “I’m going to be talking to you when I come on the air. I’m going to say, ‘Hello, friends,’ because you have nothing but friends in your life. It’s my secret code to tell you I’m thinking of you and that I love you.”

To hear him tell the story at the same tournament where the public first heard it, however, is special. It’s a reminder to all of us to cherish our loved ones and also Nantz himself—a national treasure who won’t be able to do us this forever, no matter how much we might want him to.