The PGA Championship, the fourth of the major tournaments, is under way from the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and, as usual, when CBS does a golf tournament, Verne Lundquist is taking his place on the course.
Except he won't be working for CBS this weekend. Instead, Lundquist is making his debut as Turner's lead announcer for its golf and football telecasts, serving as host for TBS' coverage of the PGA today (1:30 p.m.), and as play-by-play man for TNT's telecast of Sunday's San Francisco-San Diego NFL game (8 p.m.).
For a lot of announcers, leaving the security of one of the Big Three networks, even one whose sports division is as depleted as CBS, would be a big gamble, but Lundquist, who has seen a lot of changes in the industry over the course of his career, sees his move as an opportunity.
"When I first started at the network level 20 years ago, you had just three choices, but you now have six," said Lundquist. "Turner, ESPN and Fox take their rightful place alongside CBS, ABC and NBC in terms of the level of their production and the quality of their announcers."
Of course, Lundquist, who was paired with Chuck Daly on a package of NBA games last winter on TBS, didn't leave CBS without making a major sacrifice. In joining Turner on a full-time basis, he has effectively cut his ties with CBS, which includes being a part of its college football package, which starts with the Orange and Fiesta bowls in January.
Lundquist credits CBS Sports president David Kenin and senior vice president Rick Gentile for letting him out of his network contract to go to Turner, while allowing him to rejoin CBS temporarily in the winter of 1998 to call the figure skating competition in the Winter Olympics.
"You have to make choices, and this was a difficult one, but this was an opportunity to be the signature voice for a network-quality operation and to get back to the NFL," said Lundquist, who will team with Pat Haden on TNT's football package.
TBS will have early coverage of the third and fourth rounds of the PGA, beginning at noon tomorrow and 11 a.m. Sunday before Lundquist's former CBS partners take over at 2:30 each day (Channel 13) for 18-hole coverage.
Among the CBS coverage team is former Crofton resident Mary Bryan, who will work the towers at the second, eighth and 14th holes, making her the first female analyst to cover a men's major championship.
Quick weekend hits
The latest installment of Robin Roberts "In the SportsLight" interview series finds her chatting up former Kansas City Royals publicist and current radio talk show king Rush Limbaugh and director Spike Lee tomorrow night at 7:30 on ESPN.
Fox kicks off its second season of NFL telecasts tomorrow (8 p.m., Channel 45) with the Buffalo Bills playing the Dallas Cowboys in preseason action from SkyDome in Toronto, and "Baseball Night in America" has the Orioles at the Boston Red Sox (8 p.m., Channel 2) with Dewayne Staats and Bob Montgomery announcing.
Finally, ABC (Channel 2) wraps up coverage of the World Track and Field Championships from Goteborg, Sweden, tomorrow at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
ESPN picks up trials
NBC, which holds the exclusive rights to next year's Summer Olympics from Atlanta, as well as the rights to the U.S. team trials, has parceled out 77 hours of trials coverage to ESPN and ESPN2.
The package of sports includes track, rhythmic gymnastics, boxing, baseball, soccer and a series of anthology programs, along with the rebroadcast of a game involving the men's basketball team that would have already aired on NBC, which will keep more than 30 hours of trials telecasts.