Dan Hicks should be fatigued. PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Dan Hicks should be exhausted.
If that’s the case, the veteran NBC sportscaster is doing an excellent job of concealing it.
For the 30th year at TPC Sawgrass, Hicks, 59, will headline the network’s weekend coverage, once again collaborating with producer Tommy Roy, a Ponte Vedra Beach native.
This week is the third leg of the PGA Tour’s four-event Florida Swing for Hicks, who has covered the Tokyo Summer Olympics, the final two tournaments of the FedEx Cup, the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, the Beijing Winter Olympics, and the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in the last eight months.
Except, according to Hicks, there should be a disclaimer: Hicks, like most of the NBC talent covering the Winter Games, did so from the NBC broadcast compound in Stamford, Connecticut.
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He remarked, “I’ve got to say, the Winter Olympics was a bit of a break on the body and the wear and tear.” “The last thing I expected to do was travel from my house to the ski resort in my automobile.” It was still a lot of effort, and there were a lot of late nights due to the time difference.
“Covering the Olympics from the studio isn’t what you signed up for.” We tried our hardest to express what the audience was seeing to them, but there’s no substitute for being there. The good news is that the food in Stamford’s cafeterias is quite good.”
Green Cove Springs resident Caeleb Dressel in swimming and Mikaela Shiffrin in skiing were two of the main topics of each Olympics, according to Hicks. In terms of Olympic success, they were on opposite extremes of the spectrum.
Dressel became the fifth swimmer in history to win five gold medals for the United States. Dressel wowed audiences throughout the world with his strength, grace, and humble upbringing.
“Caeleb went into it with all the pressure and the focus on him,” Hicks said. “I was astounded by his calm and concentrated demeanor. He’s never pretended to be someone he’s not. He’s a small-town Florida guy who stays true to himself. It’s his safe haven.”
However, Hicks related an anecdote about Dressel’s confidence and passion. Dressel was interviewed by Hicks at the USA Olympic swim team camp in Hawaii prior to the Tokyo Games, and Hicks stated Dressel gave him a preview of upcoming attractions at the end of the conversation.
Hicks stated, “He just said, ‘I’m going to put on a show for you guys.” “I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is ready to go.'” Then he went out and put on the performance.”
There was also Shiffrin. She was favored to win gold in as many as three events, including the giant slalom and the slalom, as a two-time Olympic gold winner and the youngest slalom champion in Olympic alpine skiing history, but she fell in each of her first two, the giant slalom and the slalom.
She dragged herself to the side and sat forlornly on the snow for roughly 20 minutes after she skied out in the second race.
NBC was chastised for keeping cameras trained on Shiffrin until she exited the slope with a US official. Hicks, on the other hand, defended the network’s coverage.
Shiffrin’s misery, according to Hicks, might be comparable to the finest players in the world coming to the Stadium Course’s 17th hole and dropping balls in the water in front of thousands of spectators and millions watching on TV.
“Golf is one of those activities where you have to strip down to your underwear,” Hicks remarked. “We’ve seen some of the No. 17 disasters, and you feel bad for the athlete.” We all felt bad for Mikaela, but it wasn’t our responsibility to dig them out of the snow and pat them on the back. At No. 17, the scenario is the same. You can see the splash and the crushed expression on their cheeks.”
“You could simply say, ‘Well, that’s racing,'” Hicks said when she fell the first time. “But then it happened again, and I couldn’t stop thinking about Dan Jansen.”
In 1988, Jansen was favored to win the gold medal in the 500-meter speed skating event. Jansen went to the rink hours after discovering his sister had died of cancer and then fell. He didn’t earn his coveted gold medal until 1994.
Jansen must have read Hicks’ mind, according to Hicks. “Sometimes the best don’t always win at the Olympics,” wrote Jansen in a text.
The emergence of emerging talents such as Viktor Hovland, Joaquin Niemann, and Scottie Scheffler, according to Hicks, is a crucial story line at the Players.
He’s especially interested to watch how Scheffler plays the Stadium Course after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last week in challenging conditions.
“I have to give credit to [broadcast partner] Paul Azinger, who was continuously stating before the Ryder Cup that this man has the most potential of any of the young players,” Hicks said. “This guy won a birdie feast in Scottsdale, then went bogey-free on the weekend at Bay Hill, which is as difficult as any test we’ve seen… a very deserving victor, and he might be the main story on Tour this season.” Zinger summed it up perfectly. Scottie, he claimed, has a fantastic disposition and is unfazed by anything.”
For the first time since Woods went pro before the 1997 tournament, Hicks said a Players field that doesn’t contain both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson doesn’t leave the field short on star power — and that includes the Stadium Course’s concluding stretch from Nos. 16-18.
“Having those players in the field is unrivaled,” Hicks said. “However, if The Players has taught us anything, you’re going to face some fierce competition down the line, even from guys who aren’t the greatest stars right now.” The course is always the most prominent feature of this tournament, and I’d rank that finish among the best in the world.”