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Sports Illustrated

Jim Nantz Shares How He Coined His Signature ‘Hello Friends’

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Legendary broadcaster Jim Nantz coined his infamous phrase “Hello Friends” while working the PGA Championship 20 years ago.

On Saturday, he opened his CBS third round coverage the same way he has for every sporting event in the last two decades by saying that famous phrase.

Nantz went onto Joe Buck and Michael Collins’ PGA coverage on ESPN2 ahead of his own announcing job on Saturday to explain where the origin of his “Hello Friends” tradition began.

The 63-year-old broadcaster said he used to write letters to famous sports journalists back in his 20s, including to Buck’s father Jack, and one of those letters led him to play a round of golf with Jim McKay, longtime host of ABC’s Wide World of Sports. In that meeting, McKay advised Nantz to make himself think that he’s talking to one person instead of millions when he goes on air.

Even though Nantz joined CBS in 1985, it took him until 2002 when he coined the phrase to understand what McKay meant.

“I never really understood what he was saying until I came up with that line, ‘Hello Friends,’” Nantz said. “I look into that lens, and there are millions of people on the other side and you don’t see them, there’s no feedback, but for that one little moment, you call it being centered, your world feels right.”

Nantz admitted thinking of his deceased father helps him relax while being on air in front of millions of people.

“I just feel that connection and it relaxes me, because it doesn’t matter how many years you do it, when we come on the air later today for our third round coverage, I will look into that lens when they bring it up to the booth, and Nick [Faldo] will be sitting alongside, and I’ll say ‘Hello Friends,’” Nantz said. “For that little millisecond, I will think about my dad, and my universe will be in a good place.”

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